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A lousy film script written by Ant (Ian Hughes) is discarded on a splendid New Zealand beach (next to where they shot The Piano) by Liz (Danielle Cormack), and found by a German tourist, who takes it back home to his filmmaking friend – and it gets made, in German. It’s called Topless Women Talk About Their Lives. By the time it is shown in New Zealand, Liz has fallen pregnant and misses her appointment for an abortion. Stuck with the prospect of a baby, she scrambles through the pregnancy while two men in her life scramble through their life. One, Neil (Joel Tobeck) the father of the baby who has been out of the relationship for a while, tries to work out how to deal with it, and fumbles his way back into her life, believeing he loves her. Another, the shallow, confused young buck, Geoff (Andrew Binns), tries to fall in love with whichever woman is nearest. Ant, meanwhile, is becoming increasingly paranoid and dangerous, in response to his film being unappreciated. These characters, and some of their friends, struggle to find happiness in a contemporary urban setting, but find only compromises, mistakes – and fate.

"The greatest achievement of this film is that it appears effortless. Behind its easy, almost nonchalant façade lies the agony and the ecstacy of human existence – as experienced in Auckland by a handful of 20+ young people. The agony of failed love and ambiguous love, the agony of loneliness, the ecstacy of sex and the discovery of maturity. But none of this is even mentioned. These are just people living life, coping as best they can. Filmed over six months to coincide with Cormack’s real life pregnancy, TWTATL is a blast of fresh, cool film air from the Land of the Long White Cloud, with a beguiling mix of comedy and drama. What it does well is create emotional catch-points for the audience, turning what may have been clever, low budget experimentation into meaningful observation. Some will want to change aspects of the ending, others will recognise it as a truthful, if painful, representation of life’s bitchier moments."
Andrew L. Urban

"This spontaneous, brash, funny and vibrant film, brings to life a collection of colourful characters who will make you laugh, cry as they draw you into their world. Harry Sinclair’s naturalistic style is totally engaging, and places gutsy human emotions against droll situations and the odd cute touch here and there. The mood is flippant but the substance is rich, with characters drawn from real life. Danielle Cormack is riveting as Liz, heading up a superb cast who deliver terrific naturalistic performances. Young and fresh, Topless Women has a lively upbeat soundtrack in keeping with the mood which swings and fluctuates like the tide."
Louise Keller

"This funny, fresh-faced little New Zealand film will offer the discerning movie goer something a little different this Xmas from the usual Hollywood fare. Topless Women, which recently scooped the New Zealand Film Awards, is the kind of parochial little gem that you don't find very often, a film that is very much a part of New Zealand culture, yet whose themes are broad in tone. Beautifully acted and put together, Topless Women explores the notions of cultural cinema, along with the foible of relationships, in an unpretentious and witty film. Here is a wry view of a complex world that is hilarious and heartfelt, packaged together in a free-spirited independent work."
Paul Fischer

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(New Zealand)


CAST: Danielle Cormack, Ian Hughes, Joel Tobeck, Willa O’Neill, Shimpal Lelisi, Andrew Binns

DIRECTOR: Harry Sinclair

PRODUCER: Fiona Copland, Harry Sinclair

SCRIPT: Harry Sinclair


EDITOR: Cushla Dillon



RUNNING TIME: 90 minutes



AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: December 25, 1997

New Zealand Film & TV Awards, November 1997:

Best Film, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Supporting Actor, Best Editing

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