Sunday, November 26, 2006

Catch an interesting film

Given the celebration of Rabbit Proof Fence, it seems strange that Philip Noyce's follow up film Catch a Fire seems to have such a low profile. The film is particularly interesting for the portrayal of Nik Vos by Tim Robbins. In one scene, the Boer anti-terrorist expert is shown singing a gentle folk song accompanied by guitar with his young family. The film touches on the anxiety that formed the base to Apartheid, as well as the demoralising effects this had on its victims.

In an inteview for Emanuel Levy, Noyce admits a particular resonance as an Australian working on a film set in South Africa.

 For Noyce, the most challenging part of making Catch a Fire was “being a white Australian tackling a South African story that deals with so many events of historical significance to that country. I very quickly began immersing myself in South African culture and history.

And reflecting on his experiences in researching white South Africans:

Talking to those police officers as I did — to many of them, ex-police officers in South Africa — I realized that they all saw themselves as Africans. That was a strange concept to me: How could a white person think of himself as African? And yet many of them lay claim to 300 years or more of continued residency in southern Africa. Some of them said, "Well, I've been here longer than Patrick Chamusso, than his forefathers. I'm African." Others said, "We were fighting a vicious, determined enemy, who was determined to destroy everything that we'd fought to build up here."

Elsewhere, he says...

the South Africans are a beacon to the rest of us; they are the light at the end of the tunnel that we never seem to see an end to - the tunnel of seemingly irresolvable differences between us all

Sunday, November 19, 2006

The lost world of Australia

A recent exhibition Coathangers at Shepparton Art Gallery was a reminder of how distant contemporary Australian culture has come from the idioms of local flora and fauna that once were conventional symbols of national identity. The country crafts that feature gumnuts, kookaburras and platypuses (?) seem almost baroque now, in their distance from urban life. Not that there aren't animals in contemporary decorative arts, just that they are almost all European -- deers, owls, wolves and rabbits. The time is ripe for a radical move within the arts to use local flora and fauna for shock value.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Embrace the night

Imagine the City of Melbourne dedicating one night to darkness. Across the city, street lights are turned off and residents advised to extinguish their house lights. Cars stop. Residents venture onto the street and gaze up to the night sky. Parents explain to their children how the ancient Greeks saw mythological creatures in the sky. Adolescents turn off their phones and see where the Southern Cross is. A magic at hand...

Authorities in the capital Reykjavik will turn off street lights on Thursday evening and people are also being encouraged to sit in their houses in the dark, writer Andri Snaer Magnason said on Wednesday. While the lights are out, an astronomer will describe the night sky over national radio.