Rochelle Siemienowicz on Australian Cinema, Part 1
ROCHELLE SIEMIENOWICZ has been studying and writing about the Australian film and television industry for more than fifteen years. Her PhD thesis explored globalisation and its effects on the autonomy of Australian filmmaking during the 1990s. Rochelle is currently editor at the Australian Film Institute, and is also Film Editor at The Big Issue magazine (Aust edition). She has written for many other publications and has a special interest in the exploding realms of social media. Rochelle blogs for work www.blogafi.org and can be followed on Twitter at @AFIeditor.
Talking about Australian films and filmmaking comes spontaneously to her, and I am happy that she agreed to this interview, which I’m sure will open our minds to a whole new (to us) world of Australian cinema.
Biswajit Dey: Australian actors like Mel Gibson, Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanchett, Hugh Jackman, Geoffrey Rush, among many others, are popular names internationally – and in India. Yet, very few people in India are aware of an Australian film industry. Can you give us a list of what you consider to be the ten best Australian films produced in the last ten years? Just a quick, top-of-mind list?
Rochelle Siemienowicz: A quick list of my favourites from the last ten years includes: Lantana (2001), Moulin Rouge (2001), The Tracker (2002), Ten Canoes (2006), The Black Balloon (2008), Samson and Delilah (2009), Not Quite Hollywood (documentary, 2008), Bright Star (2009), The Waiting City (2010 – which happens to be set in India too!), and The Loved Ones (2010).
BD: How have these films performed internationally in terms of Box Office draws, award wins, gathering positive reviews from critics?
RS: If you’re asking about these particular favourites of mine, that’s a very big question, with each film having its own particular circumstances. On the whole, the films I have mentioned have been very well reviewed by critics both in Australia and internationally. Films like Ten Canoes and Samson & Delilah both achieved distinctions at Cannes – Ten Canoes won the Special Jury Award in Un Certain Regard for director Rolf de Heer in 2006; and Samson & Delilah won the Camera d’Or for director Warwick Thornton in 2009. Both these films also won the AFI Award for Best Film in their respective years.
sharmila says ... "Insightful look at Australian cinema as well as the culture and mindsets of Australians. Perceptive and thought-provoking replies. Makes one want to catch a retrospective of australian movies."
Ruth Sequeira says ... "I haven't watched much of Australian Cinema, but from the little that I have, (Bran Nue Day, Samson & Delilah, Australia, etc) I love it! You've described them as "generally low budget, often realist and personal in nature." which is what makes them refreshingly different and fun according to me. I missed the previous Australian film Festival that happened in Bombay, but I hope there's another one being organized soon. :)"
anil says ... "Good one. Did not know so much about Aussie cinema."
Susan Scott says ... "I enjoyed reading Biswajit's interview with Rochelle. Rochelle's outline of the problems facing Australian filmakers trying to break into the international scene together with her explanation of the Australian self-depracating sense of humour and extensive use of natural landscapes help us gain a better understanding of the Australian film industry! Well done!"
Sayantan Dasgupta says ... "very enjoyable/informative read...the only aussie movies I have seen are Crocodile Dundee & Australia..the former was really enjoyable..Now thanks to this article, I have few more added to the must-watch list :)"