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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Friday May 22, 2020 


Four punked up Japanese surfers venture up the spectacular east coast of Australia in a 1961 EK Holden, to the tunes of many a pop song. Shark (Taki Abe), Kimiko (Miki Sasaki), Yuto (Keita Abe), and Gunja Man (Nobuisha Ikeda) drive, dream and surf their way through a road trip that exposes them to some of Australia's major landmarks...like the Big Banana, the Big Pineapple... and the Big Sheep. And of course, the Big Surf.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
The (latest) new wave of Australian filmmaking is here: Bondi Tsunami is a child of the MTV era, a film made with the digital tools of the 21st century, the sounds of contempo music and the visual edginess of a brave young world whose language is hip. Flooded with humour, Bondi Tsunami is like a long video clip, but the characters aren't the members of the band: they're the members of a group who come together in an old Holden in search of the zen zone of surfing nirvana. Nothingness is a state of relaxed mind...

Multi talented Rachael Lucas has designed this film much like a Russell Mulcahey might design a 3 minute music clip, and given that deliberate approach, she has managed to deliver a fluid and engaging film. It eschews traditional linear story telling, yet it retains a sense of progression; it avoids talking too much, yet it communicates on a visceral level. She has no money yet she invests in the film's impact through a combination of stylistic direction, music and editing.

This is the new leading edge of the Australian filmmaking envelope, both in style and substance. The surrealism surrenders to humour and the humour surrenders to iconography, pop culture and moments of sheer fun.

Made for credit card debts and distributed by the entire Lucas family who supported her, Bondi Tsunami also connects with the surf culture in Japan. Australia and Japan share a few other cultural traits, including a sense of the absurd, of humour and of fate. At least it looks like it.

The extraordinary soundtrack boasts some 30 tracks, half of which have been composed for the film, some by Lucas herself, who also sings a few. Fresh and volatile, Bondi Tsunami is likely to end up labelled the first major Australian cult classic of the 21st century.

It's terrific as a film enjoyed in the conventional way, but it is also consumable as a musical wallpaper or background atmos piece as a DVD. Not counting the engrossing director's commentary by Rachael and Anthony Lucas-Smith. She would not be offended if you played the film on DVD during a party, letting your guests sample the film whenever they feel like it. The music videos on the DVD are designed for just that: highly visual, manipulating images with the abandon of creative lust.

Rachael's commentary posits the emptiness of the existential moment that forms the film in its nothingness filled with emptiness ... filled with layers of course. "It's a multi-platform viewing piece," Rachael explains, which puts the film in context. Go with it. Watch while doing the vacuuming. Flick through it. Shuffle it. It's a zen pop thing, not linear. Pop western cliches...advertising icons...a living surfware catalogue.

Then there is the Making of doco, a combination of how to make an oily rag smell enough to make a film and cutting edge filmmaking. But it's the Australian tour that is the most unusual item, a half hour expose of how these guerilla filmmakers dragged their film across Australia for screenings, in an adventure worthy of some picture show man, putting the traditionalists to shame. (And how the filmmakers-cum-distributors dealt with the public perception of the word 'tsunami' amidst the tour after the Boxing Day 2004 natural disaster of the tsunami in the Indian ocean.

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CAST: Taki Abe, Miki Sasaki, Keita Abe, Nobuisha Ikeda

PRODUCER: Anthony Lucas Smith, Naomi Lucas Smith

DIRECTOR: Rachael Lucas

SCRIPT: Rachael Lucas

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Rachael Lucas, Dean Pinsak

EDITOR: Michael Jones

MUSIC: Racahel Lucas and others

RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: September 30, 2004

PRESENTATION: 1.66:1; DD 2.0 + 5.1

SPECIAL FEATURES: Director & producer commentary; making of doco; Australian tour doco; deleted scenes with commentary; music videos


DVD RELEASE: June 15, 2005

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