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Thirty-nine Australian films, including nine new features, eight documentaries and 22 shorts will be showcased at the 2009 BigPond Adelaide Film Festival (February 19 – March 1, 2009), offering a snapshot of the state of Australian filmmaking, with romantic comedy, historical dramas, and inspiring documentaries of human courage all emerging as strong themes.

Nine new Australian features will have their world premieres at the festival, with six of these – A GOOD MAN, LAST RIDE, LUCKY COUNTRY, MY TEHRAN FOR SALE and SAMSON AND DELILAH, and opening night film MY YEAR WITHOUT SEX – made possible through the festival’s investment arm, the AFF Investment Fund, which invests in new and innovative Australian works.

Other world premieres include Natalie Imbruglia in her first starring role in CLOSED FOR WINTER; VAN DIEMEN’S LAND based on the amazing story of Alexander Pearce, Australia’s most notorious convict; and BEAUTIFUL a drama about Australian suburbia. Three Australian documentary features will have their national premieres – YES MADAM, SIR, SOLO and ACROSS THE PLATEAU.

MY YEAR WITHOUT SEX – Opening Night film & in Natuzzi Competition for Best Feature Film. Sarah Watt’s long awaited follow up to Look Both Ways, MY YEAR WITHOUT SEX extends Watt’s concerns with the capricious ways that the gods can reach out into suburbia and strike you down. Natalie and her family are the stuff of suburban life: mortgage, messy house, job worries, and trying to figure out how fast to let the kids grow up, until something unexpected occurs which forces Natalie to address the big questions: is there a God, and if there is, why does the dryer keep on breaking down? If life is governed by dumb luck, should I play the pokies? Stars Sacha Horler, Matt Day.

But it’s not an Aussie exclusive program; in the Off the Bloc sidebar, the Festival explores recent East European cinema with nine new features, including: BLIND LOVES is a moving Slovakian documentary from Juraj Lehotský about love among four sets of blind people; Bulgarian first time feature director Javor Gardev’s ZIFT is a story that unfolds at night - energetic, macho absurdism meets film noir; THE INVESTIGATOR, written and directed by Hungarian filmmaker Attila Gigor, an engrossing whodunnit with an unusual twist – we already know whodunnit; winner of the prestigious European Film Academy Prix ARTE award for documentary film in 2008, Helena Třeštíková’s RENE follows the life of criminal Rene Plasil over a span of three decades; SNOW is the debut feature from Sarajevo-born director Aida Begić. A powerful and moving study of the cost of war on those who survive.

In all, 143 films from over 49 countries will screen through the festival’s duration. The Minister assisting the Premier for the Arts, Minister John Hill MP announced producer Jan Chapman (Lantana, The Piano) as the recipient of the Don Dunstan Award, which is presented by the festival’s Board in recognition of outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry.

Published February 5, 2009

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