Screenjabber's Stuart O'Connor chats with Oz Film Festival director Laila Dickson. The 2018 festival features an eclectic mix of new and significant Australian features, documentaries, comedies and dramas at London's Regent Street Cinema over the first weekend in July.
The 2018 Oz Film Festival
Now in its second year, the festival presents the European premiere of Ellipsis as its 2018 festival opening night gala on Friday July 6. Far from a trite romance, this directorial debut from beloved Australian actor David Wenham – who will be there to introduce the film – is a pure delight. The wonderful performances of an ensemble cast, the meanderings of the night’s escapades and the characters they encounter along the way, make this an utterly believable and enchanting piece of cinema. The film will be followed by a drinks reception, generously supported by the Australian High Commission.
Day two on Saturday kicks off with Kangaroo: A Love Hate Story. National treasure or common pest? This fascinating documentary delves into Australia’s relationship with its most recognised native emblem. Full of passion, heart, and bloody hatred, Kangaroo: A Love Hate Story is an eye-opening examination of culling, an emotive issue shrouded in secrecy, lies, and vested interest. A film not to be missed, but definitely not suitable for children!
Next up is some light relief with the London premiere of Swinging Safari – which will be introduced by author and dear friend of star Kylie Minogue, Kathy Lette. Pass the Iced VoVos and crack open the chateau d’cardboard (aka wine box) as Minogue and Guy Pearce reunite for the first time since Neighbours, in the latest feature from Stephan Elliott (Priscilla, Queen of the Desert), a madcap comedy that unceremoniously skewers Aussie family life in the 1970s.
Closing out the opening day is Rolf de Heer’s Bad Boy Bubby, one of the wildest, most disturbing films ever to bubble up from the deepest recesses of the Australian psyche. It also happens to be one of the greatest. Internationally revered and despised in equal measure, this is a cult classic in the truest sense. Screening from a restored digital print sourced directly from de Heer, this is a big screen experience not to be missed.
Day three on Sunday opens with this year’s family film – Babe: Pig in the City, which celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2018. Dismissed as a mere cash-in follow-up to the wildly popular international smash hit Babe (1995), this delightfully dark family romp has more than enough action and laughter to thrill kids of all ages.
Next up is the documentary Blue: The Film, which takes viewers from Sydney beaches, and across the world, exploring the plight of the world’s oceans and its wildlife today.
More comedy follows, and lovers of the Aussie classic The Castle will not want to miss The BBQ – starring Shane Jacobson, who is probably best known for his hilarious and heartwarming portaloo mockumentary Kenny. Proud father Dazza Cook (Jacobson) is not only convinced he’s related to the man who ‘discovered’ Australia, Captain Cook, but that his beloved BBQ is the very one the famous explorer fashioned on the beaches of Sydney at the first landing.
Closing the festival is The Butterfly Tree, a delightful coming-of-age story starring Ed Oxenbould (Paper Planes, Puberty Blues TV series), who falls in love with the luminescent Melissa George when she moves into his town. But little does he know, his father, Ewan Leslie, is also rather taken with the newcomer. Debut director Priscilla Cameron will present a Q&A after the film, and the festival will then close with a drinks reception funded by the Australian High Commission.
• For full programme details and to buy tickets head to the Regent Street Cinema
• You can follow @OZfilmfest on Twitter