Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor chats with London Australian Film Festival director Laila Dickson and programmer Stephen Morgan. The 2019 festival features an eclectic mix of new Australian features, documentaries, comedies and dramas – along with a couple of old classics – at London's Regent Street Cinema over the last weekend in June.
Returning to Regent Street Cinema for the third successive year, the London Australian Film Festival (formerly known as OZ Film Festival) presents a full weekend of the latest and greatest Australian films in the heart of London.
From thrilling dramas to laugh out loud comedies, enthralling documentaries to heart-warming family films and coming of age indies, there truly is something for everyone in this year’s festival.
As well as a host of European, British and London premieres, this year's festival offers a rare chance to revisit two classic Aussie films celebrating big anniversaries in 2019, as well as amazing student short films before each feature, and a closing night Q&A gala.
The opening gala on Friday is the London premiere of REACHING DISTANCE, a whip-smart, mind-bending indie thriller. Fans of Groundhog Day and Memento will love this compelling feature debut of Australian writer-director David Fairhurst, plus a free drinks reception.
The first late-night screening is another London premiere, GHOSTHUNTER, Ben Lawrence's astounding feature documentary, in which one man must face demons of past and present. Absolute proof that truth is far stranger than fiction, this one has more twists and turns than a Hollywood blockbuster!
Saturday begins with a special 40th anniversary screening of a landmark of Australian cinema, MY BRILLIANT CAREER. This masterful film by Gillian Armstrong and stars a very young Judy Davis and Sam Neill.
Hot on the heels of its European debut at Edinburgh International Film Festival & having just turned over $5m at the Australian box office, next up is the London premiere of TOP END WEDDING, a heartwarming home-grown romantic comedy starring Miranda Tapsell and Gwilym Lee, and directed by Wayne Blair.
The Saturday night late session is the European premiere of taut outback thriller, LOCUSTS. This one promises an intoxicating mix of fast cars, sweeping vistas, and a cracking soundtrack, and was shot on locations in western New South Wales that eagle-eyed fans of Australian cinema will recognise from the original Mad Max films.
Sunday kicks off with the UK premiere of STORM BOY, a wonderful update of a true-blue family favourite. Adapted from Colin Thiele’s much-loved story, it stars Oscar-winner Geoffrey Rush as a disaffected man whose politically engaged granddaughter sparks memories of his own youth, and a close connection with country (and a pelican named Mr Percival). Blending a timely environmental message with a pitch-perfect hit of 1950s nostalgia, this is one to please the whole family!
Next up is the London premiere of BACKTRACK BOYS, an inspiring and life-affirming documentary about wayward youth, the power of redemption and some amazing dogs. The documentary tells the uplifting story of a group of boys, lost within a world that doesn’t care, who are on a perilous course towards jail until they are taken under the wing of the soft talking, and highly insightful “jackaroo” farmer, Bernie Shakeshaft, who transforms their lives through learning to train the dogs of his prize-winning jumping team.
Later in the afternoon is an extremely rare UK screening of ensemble drama ERSKINEVILLE KINGS, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Long before Wolverine and The Greatest Showman, this underappreciated classic offered Hugh Jackman one of his first major roles as one of a pair of brothers struggling to come to terms with the legacy of their dead father.
Hot on the heels of its sell-out screenings at Sydney Film Festival, the festival proudly continues it its tradition of closing the festival with an Australian directorial debut, flying Imogen McCluskey over for a live Q&A after the European premiere of her brilliant coming-of-age indie, SUBURBAN WILDLIFE. There will be a free drinks reception before the feature.