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MOVIES NOW 8th ANNIVERSARY – CHALLENGING & FUN

Robert Rodriguez’s graphic adaptation of Frank Miller’s graphic novel Sin City was the very first movie ‘premiered’- unannounced - at Movies Now on July 6, 2005 at Dendy Newtown, a week prior to its commercial release, inaugurating the then unique new movie appreciation course presented by Andrew L. Urban. On the eve of the 22nd course of 6 ‘secret’ movies, we take a look at this enduring part of Sydney’s screen culture. SIGN UP

Screening films unannounced prior to their commercial release to ensure participants approach them with a fresh and open mind, Movies Now is intended to explore filmmaking – with the participation of a guest, preferably one of the filmmakers or stars, or someone otherwise relevant.

After the early screening of Suburban Mayhem, for example, the class was joined by the film’s astonishing star, Emily Barclay, director Paul Goldman and producer Leah Churchill Brown.

"..in the guiding hands of someone who respects the artform and has a natural curiosity," Phillip Noyce, director

It was Phillip Noyce who perhaps best sums up the intent of the course: "Movies Now is a terrific platform that enables us filmmakers to address our audiences, but also for them to engage with us, in the guiding hands of someone who respects the artform and has a natural curiosity about us as people. It can also be challenging and fun, all at once." 

Noyce, who joined the discussion after the screening of his film Catch A Fire in November 2006 (two weeks prior to its commercial release), was one of the filmmakers who was able to participate in these discussions with the participants. Others include Bridget Ikin, producer of Look Both Ways, Vincent Sheehan, producer of Little Fish, Tom Hooper (of The King’s Speech fame) to discuss his film Red Dust (prerecorded interview), Hany Abud for Paradise Now (by phone from New York) Bruce Beresford for a film he was originally to direct, Amazing Grace, and for My Week With Marilyn plus Robot & Frank, and Bob Connolly and Sophie Raymond for The Imposter; and there are many more.

Some films in the course are screened several weeks (like Life of Pi) or even months before their release (like Safety Not Guaranteed), others just days prior (like The Artist), depending on availability and scheduling.

"A simple idea perfectly executed, and an oasis in the arid wastes of film education." Al Clark, producer

"A simple idea perfectly executed, and an oasis in the arid wastes of film education." says another regular guest, Al Clark (producer - Priscilla, Chopper, Goddess, Red Hill), who was on hand for the discussion of Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In – the 100th film screened at Movies Now, a month prior to its release.

“ … excellent both my sister and I will be back next year. We both saw movies that we probably wouldn't have chosen to see and enjoyed them all immensely,” says Anne Proudlove, a regular participant. 

"You are to be congratulated for providing a forum for film fans to get together in a unique environment," Universal CEO Mike Baard

The industry is also supportive, working with the CCE to organise films for the course. Says Universal’s CEO Mike Baard: “You are to be congratulated for providing a forum for film fans to get together in a unique environment and be enriched by each others perspective of the film, guided by your expert hand. What was particularly interesting is that your audience had no advance idea of what they would be screening and therefore their reaction was one of impulse.”

The course is intended for a general audience of those interested in movies; it’s not for buffs. Says Scott Robertson, “You opened my eyes to this type of film making (Dogme), having never heard of it before, and I thank you for it, very interesting.”

"Movies Now brightens my week"

For some, it’s a weekly tonic: “Movies Now brightens my week, truly something very special to look forward to. The selection never fails to engage and surprise and I have enjoyed many hilarious and thought provoking discussions with the guests. Can’t wait for the next season!” 

Well, the wait is over ….and the first film in the new course had its world premiere at the Festival de Cannes.


From left: Sin City, Life of Pi, The Artist

Published June 6, 2013

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Andrew L. Urban

Movies Now at Dendy Newtown

Sydney University Centre for Continuing Education

6.30pm, Wednesdays July 3 – August 7, 2013

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