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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Saturday February 1, 2020 

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A new 13-week season of Auteur TV on SBS Television (from Saturday April 25 at 11.10pm [10.40pm in South Australia]), has uncovered a mountain of hidden gems that have been lying dormant in old film vaults for some 20 years: works of such well-known filmmakers as Philip Noyce, Paul Verhoeven, Krystof Kieslowski, Werner Herzog, Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Jean Luc Godard. Plus: Ingmar Bergman’s soap commercials and a banned 1976 docuedrama by Australia’s Graham Chase.

Auteur TV also features works by luminaries of the underground film movement such as the King of Camp cinema George Kuchar, the UK’s visionary animators The Brothers Quay and the great Maya Deren.

"Occasionally there is opposition to what we wish to screen," says SBS spokesman Ian Phipps, "and one of the most difficult negotiations was with the world renowned film maker Ingmar Bergman. During the 1950's, Sweden’s film industry went on strike and Bergman was forced make a series of soap commercials in order to survive. They are wonderful examples of his quick wit and stand as mini-homages to the cinema, covering such genres as the costume drama and the 3D movie. Yet Bergman would rather forget they existed and has been trying to buy them back. Last year he succeeded, but fortunately we were able to obtain one of the last world screenings before they are locked away by Bergman forever."

The challenge for Auteur TV is finding work that has never been seen before or films which suffered under the hands of the censor. A prime example of this is seen in the first episode which features Australian filmmakers Phil Noyce and Graham Chase. Chase’s film Thirst was commissioned by the NSW Health Department in 1976, then prohibited from exhibition because it was deemed too realistic and confrontational for an audience to watch. This will be the first time Thirst has screened on television. Noyce’s film, Mick, received little attention when it was made as it presented a very unglamourous view of a taboo subject - Sydney’s western suburbs. Both films feature the early work of cinematographer Dean Semler, who went on to win the Academy Award for Dances with Wolves.

This new series of Auteur TV is thematically grouped so audiences may follow both their favourite directors and their favourite themes - At the Movies, Art, Animation, and Animals. This provides an insight as to how directors handle a variety of topics, and how they keep coming back to that distinctive look which signifies their work. Most films witness the talent of future cinema masters, bringing together a vision and insight that marks their work even today. A great example of this is French filmmaker Alain Resnais’ use of repetition in his short but powerful documentary on the Holocaust, Night and Fog. The film is now considered by most of the world’s leading film critics to be a masterpiece and a perfect example of the poetry of cinematic language.


Saturday April 25 - "Family" episode

Directed by Phil Noyce

Phil Noyce cut his filmmaking teeth on a series for Film Australia depicting Australian youth. In this film we meet Mick, a teenager who lives in Mount Druitt. The son of an Italian family, he lives a troubled life from which he escapes by indulging in his favourite hobby, tattoos.

Directed by Graham Chase

Graham Chase’s film is a no-holds-barred look at the trauma of living with an alcoholic. Shot over a period of two days, this is cinema veritae from the suburbs. The film was banned in 1976, the year it was made, because it was deemed too controversial, and this is the first time it has ever been seen on television.

Both these films were shot by Academy Award winning cinematographer Dean Semler.

Nine Commercials for the Soap, Bris - The Inventor
Directed by Ingmar Bergman
When Sweden’s film industry went on strike in 1950, Bergman made a series of commercials for Bris soap in order to survive. Yet they are also mini-homages to cinema. Photographed by Gunnar Fischer, they are done with good humour and each plays a small trick to keep us interested in a bar of soap. Bergman recently took action to stop the sale of these commercials, and this is the first and last time they will be screened on Australian television before they are locked away on Bergman’s island retreat.

Saturday May 2 - "At the Movies" episode

Hold Me While I’m Naked
Directed by George Kuchar

One of Kuchar’s first 16mm productions, this unabashed tribute to the cinema of melodrama is a high point in camp. Set against the backdrop of a New York skyline, the leading actress becomes sick and soon the film becomes the story of not being able to make a movie.

Blinkity Blank
Directed by Norman McLaren

McLaren was inspired by Len Lye’s pioneering work of painting, scratching and drawing directly onto film. Blinkity Blank is a great example of that raw and direct approach that was to send cinema in a totally new direction. This is Jean Luc Godard’s favourite film.

For the First Time
Directed by Octavio Cortazar
Cuban filmmaker Octavio Cortazar’s inspiring documentary is a unique opportunity to view what most of us now take for granted: what it was like to watch a film for the first time. By using veritae and hidden camera techniques, Cortazar shows how a small village in the Sierra Maestra react to Chaplin’s Modern Times.

Saturday May 9 - "New Wave" episode

City Tramp
Directed by Rainer Werner Fassbinder
Fassbinder’s first film was made using the money he swindled from his then boyfriend Christopher Rosser. The inspiration was Eric Rohmer’s film Le Signe du Lion, and takes the form of a tramp who finds a gun and then tries to get rid of it.

Charlotte and Jules
Directed by Jean-Luc Godard

A turning point in Godard’s development as a filmmaker. Charlotte and Jules was the debut of his now familiar use of the monologue, and the screen debut of Jean Paul Belmondo, here playing a harassed boyfriend who wants to tell his lover what is on his mind.

Nine Commercials for the Soap, Bris - Movie Making
Directed by Ingmar Bergman

Another in the series of nine.

Saturday May 23 - "Animation" episode

Directed by Kihachiro Kawamoto

Using traditional elements of the Japanese ghost story, puppet theatre and silent cinema, Japan’s leading animator spins a haunting tale of two samurais’ search for an evil demon.

Street of Crocodiles
Directed by The Brothers Quay
If Kafka had been a filmmaker, this is the film he would have made. Based on the stories of the Polish writer Bruno Schultz, it is a journey into the microscopic nightmare world of stop motion animation. Set to the music of Leszek Janowski, Street of Crocodiles is a wonderful example of the cinema of hallucination.

Saturday May 30 - "The Polish" episode

Directed by Krystof Kieslowski

A funny and often frustrating look at the bureacracy of burials in Poland.

I am a Soldier
Directed by Krystof Kieslowski
A documentary about soldiers who have lost their eyesight during World War II. "I asked them about their dreams. That is what the films is about," said Kieslowski.

Nine Commercials for the Soap, Bris - Gustav III
Directed by Ingmar Bergman

Another in the series of nine.

Saturday June 6 - "Animals" episode

The Mongreloid
Directed by George Kuchar

One of the kookiest films made by Kuchar, a homage to his dag Boko. Kukar described it as "A man, his dog and the regions they inhabited, both leaving their own distinctive mark on the landscape.

Directed by Bert Haanstra

Shot with hidden cameras in Amsterdam’s Artis Zoo, this is an ironic, sometimes sad impression of the contrasting behaviour of man and beast, set to a jazz soundtrack.

Les Inhabitants
Directed by Artavazd Pelechian
A totally innovative and breathtaking work by one of Armenia’s leading directors, made from footage and sounds he found. Pelechian has created a frightening view of an animal world in rebellion, a mini-disaster film like no other.

Auteur TV resumes after the World Cup on Saturday July 11.

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I am a Soldier




Street of Crocodiles


Director, Phil Noyce


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