Monday, September 15, 2008

Toronto Disgraces Itself

I have been following the new Australian film Disgrace a little bit more closely than I normally would because it appears it could be one of those Aussie films that could be more than the noble artistic drama that out country is now producing to infinite (and beyond). It defines the sort of arguments I routinely make about my country's film industry. There are plenty of novels out there ripe for adaptation so why don't our filmmakers do that more often? Is it just because so many of Australia's filmmakers seem content to get their personal family issues out onto celluloid that they forget they're in the movie making business? People won't continue to fund their depressing domestic dramas if they don't even seem to care about whether their films are made for an audience or not (let alone whether they're good). And if you make a good enough film then, more times than not, you'll find an audience.

Nevermind that though, I'm getting sidetracked (as I am wont to do when it comes to the problems plaguing the Australian industry), because what I wanted to mention was that Steve Jacobs' (La Spagnola) adaptation of JM Coetzee's novel Disgrace turned out to be quite the hit at this year's Toronto International Film Festival. The film, which is set in South Africa, won the FIPRESCI Prize in the Special Presentations section. Not entirely sure what that means, but it sounds impressive!

Alongside that it has been getting a lot of positive reactions from critics at the festival. Dave Poland was the first that I read to hail it, especially the performance of John Malkovich, and was quickly followed by Variety and Screen Daily. That the screenplay by actress Anna-Maria Monticelli has already won the prestigious AWGIE Award bodes well.

It would be nice to see this movie break out of the tiny shell that most Aussie films have found themselves in lately, especially if it is as good as the early word suggests.


Paul Martin said...

Now here is an Australian film I'm looking forward to. This is made by the same talented writer/director team who brought us La Spagnola, a little gem of a film that really deserved to do much better box office than it did, probably largely (if not entirely) because it opened overseas on September 11, 2001, and here a week or two later. How's that for bad luck?

The FIPRESCI Prize is a prize decided by a jury of accredited critics only, as opposed to other juries or audience awards. Personally, I generally think little of audience awards, which I find reward mediocrity. A FIPRESCI prize is quite an endorsement and increases my anticipation of it.

Glenn said...

I know what the FIPRESCI Prize is, but I'm not really sure what the difference between all the different categories are. I figure it's sort of like how MIFF has their seperated categories, but I'm not entirely sure.

I liked La Spagnola well enough - it's a shame Alica Ansara's career didn't develop, as she was my favourite in the film - but isn't it strange how so many Aussie directors just seem to take so long to get projects off the ground. I'm surprised Ana Kokkinos' latest, Blessed, is already in pre-production as there was a good eight years between Head On and Book of Revelation (neither of which I liked, but it serves a point).