Sunday, July 6, 2008


* just not!

In a piece I wrote earlier today about Australian remakes, I wrote about how the Australian industry rarely seems to utilise our rich history for cinematic effect. Another problem is that we don't adapt enough books or plays. I'm not entirely sure why, but during last year's AFI eligibility period I believe there was only one film that was adapted from another source. That the film Romulus, My Father ended up being the highest grossing Australian film of the year (apart from Happy Feet, natch) is, perhaps, indicative of something.

In the last few years a lot of the most critically acclaimed films that have had box office success were adaptations, too. Think Ray Lawrence's Lantana and Jindabyne or Neil Armfield's Candy. And Australia has plenty of well-known, loved good books and plays, whether they be for younger or older audiences, that I'm not quite sure why nobody wants to adapt them.

Anyway, all of this is a long roundabout way of getting to Disgrace, which is an Australian film directed by Steve Jacobs (La Spagnola) and starring John Malkovich, based on the South African book of the same name. The production just got some good news that I thought I'd share. From Variety comes word that Disgrace has been chosen for the Toronto International Film Festival, where it will have its world premiere.

Fest, which runs Sept. 4-13, will also world preem Steve Jacobs’ “Disgrace,” starring John Malkovich as a South African professor whose relationship with his daughter is tested after an attack...

Very nice. It's always nice to see an Australian (it's an Aus/South Africa co-production, I believe) get chosen for this sort of festival - one of the biggest and most important in the world. Still doesn't stop the fact that Australian film makers seem largely uninterested in adapting from other sources. If the industry has any hope of "survival" (quotes because there will always be an industry, whether it's a successful industry or not is up for debate) then they need to realise that people might take more chances on Aussie films if they had a stronger connection to them beforehand. Does any of that make sense?

If you are unaware of what the award-winning Disgrace is about, here is the description from the TIFF press release

Disgrace Steve Jacobs, Australia/South Africa
World Premiere
Professor David Lurie's (John Malkovich) life falls apart after he has an impulsive affair with one of his students. Forced to resign from Cape Town University, he escapes to his daughter's farm in the Eastern Cape. Their relationship is tested when they both become victims of a vicious attack. In order not to lose the love of his daughter, David stands by her as she accepts her tragic circumstances. She continues her life on the farm and their individual disgrace finally settles to an uneasy grace.


leah said...

interesting, kam. it's almost the reverse here, when it comes to making films actually set in nz (usually our scenery is pimped out to portray somewhere else on the planet), they are usually adapted from great nz books ('once were warriors', 'angel at my table', 'in my father's den', 'whale rider', 'out of the blue', just off the top of my head i'm a bit stuffed). do you think aus screenwriters are reluctant to adapt home-grown material for some reason? seems daft, there must be a wealth of interesting australian stories just begging to be brought to life on the big screen

Glenn said...

Well, there are adaptations, but just that many. I'm sure there are plenty of amazing Aussie novels that could be adapted for the screen. I think it's because the industry - especially at the moment - is filled with so many young upstart film makers who want to get their original visions out there. And then they don't do well theatrically.

Or, they do become a success and then they go overseas.