In the past few years, Australian cinema has been on a grand rise, with big movies like Mad Max: Fury Road of last year and Hacksaw Ridge this year smashing international screens and winning multiple awards throughout festivals.
Despite the international spotlight of many of the films, there are many smaller and independent films that are not really talked about despite their local and festival success, as there is either lack of international distribution or bigger Hollywood productions put them in in a shadier side. This is a huge shame considering the immense talent of the local directors whose movies featuring big and small local names, who create fantastic stories and contribute immensely to global cinema.
What makes Australian cinema stand out, and what is particularly liked about it is its Australian-ness that gives us a delicate and true taste of the country and its life, making the movies appealingly different and personal to their creators.
So, considering 2017 has only begun and some of these movies are still competing in many festivals, if you have a chance to catch a couple of these, make sure not to miss them!
10. Goldstone (Ivan Sen)
The thrilling and picturesque crime drama follows detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pederson), whose lead in a missing person case has led him to a small time in Australia, Goldstone. It is immediately evident that he is not wanted in this small community and town which is run by corruption.
Despite the resistance he carries on his investigation, while under watch by the town’s only policeman, Josh (Alex Russel) who himself begins to stumble upon the truth of his town’s leaders as the two men separately follow their clues that mask the human trafficking of Chinese girls that are slaved into prostitution as a means of paying off debts. As Josh’s view of his town becomes more clear he is forced to join forces with Swan if they want to save the girls.
Sen knowingly portrays the cultural situation of Australia, putting emphasis on the racial discrimination and history of the aboriginals, the Chinese and the whites.
9. Girl Asleep (Rosemary Myers)
Girl Asleep is a beautiful cinematic wonderland of a mind of a child growing up. Filled with magical metaphors and vibrant images, the relatable movie takes you back in time to one of the most difficult periods in one’s life.
The story follows 14 year old Greta (Bethany Whitmore), who along with her weird and humorous family has moved to a new area. Beginning a new life is hard enough, but starting out in a new school with no friends and trying to establish your social position while simultaneously finding yourself and discovering your own beliefs can be quite overwhelming.
Starting off with the wrong foot, Greta’s situation seems to become unbearable after her mother decides to throw her a surprise birthday party, which for the quiet and slightly anti-social girl is an equivalent to a nightmare and indeed the whole party possesses a dream-like quality of synchronised dancing and ringing lights.
As the night progresses, Greta faces embarrassment, bullying and a love declaration that cause a collision within her that triggers her to look in deeper into herself, even if it is just through a dream.
8. Red Dog: True Blue (Kriv Stenders)
The prequel to the famous Red Dog drama, Red Dog:True Blue, was one of the most Australian-anticipated sequels of the year due to the striking success and heartbreakingly warm story of the first movie. Although gaining some international attention from the former, Stenders’ prequel is made in a way that it can stand on its own benefiting an international audience that may have not seen the Australian pic.
The film takes us back in time to Mick’s (Jason Isaacs) childhood, now a father of two, and his life after finding an abandoned red friend, who was in fact blue due to being covered in blue paint – thus the name Blue. The movie follows their adventures and mischiefs as the two grow together and the valuables from the house to continue his gambling endeavours.
Despite this betraying act Cec gives him another chance as he encourages the beaten down man to get help for his gambling share the most sincere and important moments of each other’s lives bringing back the teary feelings from Red Dog.
7. Broke (Heath Davis)
In the beautiful and hearty drama, Davis creates a story of nationally heroic rugby player whose life takes him right to the bottom of his success spiral. Ben Kelly (Steve Le Marquand) has gone from being a sports superstar to living in the squalors, drowning his failure in liquor and gambling chips. After being thrown out from yet another poker club Kelly is fortunate enough to be picked up by Cec (Max Cullen), a former fan who takes pity on him.
After providing him with food and shelter, Kelly repays the man’s kindness by stealing and pawning addiction and get back on his own two feet.
Davis provides a deep psychological insight to Kelly’s issues as well as the act of human kindness, encouraging everyone to be a good Samaritan.
6. Hounds of Love (Ben Young)
Hounds of Love is a shocking and incredibly acted story based on a real life couple Evie (Emma Booth) and John (Stephen Curry) who would lure young girls into their home where they would proceed to kill them. The plot itself follows their last victim, Vicki (Ashleigh Cummings) who after secretly leaving her house to attend a party agrees to allow the couple to give her a lift, leading in her kidnapping.
The whole movie one expects a typical turn of events, yet Young surpirses the viewers at every new turn that so greatly takes advantage not only of the plot itself but the psychological relationship between the two kidnappers that is so striking an intense as flaws begin to be revealed between the duo that began as strong and supportive of eachother, as well as the relationship between Vicki and Evie as the young girl tries to manipulate her escape.
The first feature film is strikingly well made and will keep you on the edge of your seat, gripping you without letting go even until after the ending credits roll.