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A semi-fictional narrative that chronicles Daniel P Jones' attempt to return to society and his long time girlfriend (and real life partner) Leanne after his most recent stint in gaol. A hard life and years of drug excess have left him unable to be accepted by, or adjust to, a world he has never known. Losing control seems inevitable.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
In some cinematic twilight zone between documentary and fiction, Hail is both character portrait and social documentary, as Amiel Courtin-Wilson captures a snapshot of Daniel P Jones' life. It comes after the two men had known each other for some time, and clearly a great deal of trust has been established, on the evidence of this film. The trust embraces Dan's partner Leanne, too because the film begins with Dan surprising her when he arrives home earlier than expected from his latest jail spell. And what's the first thing a couple does in a situation like that? Make love - and they allow the camera in.

Although promoted as a semi-fictional movie, that scene had no fiction in it. But I only mention this in the context of the trust between subject and filmmaker, because what follows is a raw portrait of Dan's struggle with his own weaknesses and self image.

Leanne's love is clearly a major crutch for Dan, and despite occasional lapses, Dan tries to be tender and loving.

Courtin-Wilson makes good use of both music and sound to turn this into cinema; he also probes in tight close ups to search the faces of his central characters. They aren't beautiful people, except to each other, but they are sinewy and real. He is a tall man, with long, thin hair he often wears in a pony tail; he has tattoos all over him, but no teeth of his own. Sometimes he'll put in the false ones, usually when looking for work. The word resume scares him 'shitless' but he makes an effort with what little prospects he has.

And then, when something terrible happens in his life, everything changes in an instant. So does the film, which becomes expressionistic, surreal, a raging collage of sound and image, eventually lurching into a violent, graphic thriller - of sorts.

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HAIL (R18+)
(Aust, 2011)

CAST: Leanne Letch, Daniel P. Jones, Tony Markulin, Jerome Velinsky

PRODUCER: Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Michael Cody

DIRECTOR: Amiel Courtin-Wilson

SCRIPT: Amiel Courtin-Wilson


EDITOR: Peter Sciberras

MUSIC: Steve Benwell


OTHER: Robert Mackenzie (sound designer)

RUNNING TIME: 104 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: October 25, 2012 (Sydney: Dendy Newtown; Melbourne: Cinema Nova)

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