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BROKEN ENGLISH

SYNOPSIS:
Croatian-born Nina (Vujcic) escapes with her family to suburban Auckland, where her father Ivan (Serbedzija) continues to play cards like he did at home, drink with his friends from home, and sing nationalist songs. He also continues to nurture a smothering, possessive love for his two daughters, so when Nina falls deeply in love with a Maori chef, Eddie (Arahanga), Ivan is furious. Nina takes her only chance for a life of her own when offered a large sum of cash to convenience-marry a Chinese migrant who wishes to obtain residency. That is bad enough, but Ivanís fury is truly unleashed when he discovers Nina is pregnant with Eddieís child: he risks destroying his entire family to keep Nina from the man she loves.

"What is most satisfying about Broken English is its solid heart of truth: every character rings true, every motivation is understandable, every scene rings with the bittersweet sound of pain and pleasure, the inevitable twins within the human condition. It begins with Ninaís narration over black and white news footage of her bomb-scarred home; how she came to live in Auckland. We meet her family, who cling to their customs and their family hierarchies, complete with their strengths and weaknesses. And director Nicholas quickly shows us just what those underlying weaknesses are through the fatherís attitudes and actions towards the women amidst a male-bonding card party that ends up with a sentimental attempt to sing the nationalist song. The patriarch is misguided, however, and a bigot: his broken English is symbolic of a broken form of love that is part European social heritage, part stupid possessiveness. Nicholas and his team develop the romantic love between the youngsters in a brilliant, uncomplicated cinematic style that gives the whole film a glow, while its darker, sadder aspects remain in sharp contrast. Broken English is at once moving and painful, and even provocative in its handling of the subject of multicultural societies."
Andrew L. Urban

"Broken English is a powerful film about cultures and the passions they evoke. Gregor Nicholas and his co-writers have captured a veritas within three totally different cultures, delivering a film richly coloured with multi-dimensional characters emitting great passions. The close Croatian family headed by a possessive, violent father; the young Maori keen to preserve his native traditions; the hard-working, well-meaning Chinese couple who believe that money will buy everything. The clash of these cultures and what they believe in is great cinema - especially as we are able to identify with each of the three represented. We engage readily with Sashka Vujcic and Julian Arahanga as Nina and Eddie, the young couple who make their commitment and are prepared to pay its price; Vujcic and Arahanga giving passionate performances that electrify. This well made film is beautifully shot with effective use of music from a lingering soundtrack. Watch out for the scene when Nina swims with the dolphins; itís a magical moment. Simmering below the story line are the darker issues of loyalty, ties of blood and family and self preservation. But most of all, Broken English is a film about the discovery of self, that journey we begin aimlessly until we reach that fork in the road."
Louise Keller

"There is much to admire in this powerful New Zealand drama, a film that explores cultural diversity at its most extreme. It's a film about a group of intensely passionate characters, father and daughter in particular. The performances are extraordinary: from Rade Serbedzija as the complex and overly protective Ivan, to Aleksandra Vujcic, beautiful, sensuous, alluring and emotive as the headstrong Nina - it's hard to believe that this young Croatian had never acted before. Broken English pulls no punches and is a gutsy, raw film, perhaps too confronting for some. There are plenty of similarities with Once were Warriors, which explored some similar issues but in a less contrived way. Broken English is a good film, but while it adopts a tough stance, one wonders whether or not it's actually breaking new ground, or merely giving the appearance of doing so. You be the judge."
Paul Fischer

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The Lovers

ALEKSANDRA VUJCIC INTERVIEW


Mother and daughters


Aleksandra Vujcic (Nina) and Julian Arahanga (Eddie) in the kitchen of the Chinese Restaurant

BROKEN ENGLISH (MA)
(NZ)

CAST: Aleksandra Vujcic, Julian Arahanga, Rade Serbedzija, Marton Csokas, Jong Zhao, Yang Li, Madeline McNamara

PRODUCER: Robin Scholes

DIRECTOR: Gregor Nicholas

SCRIPT: Gregor Nicholas, Johanna Pigott, Jim Salter

CINEMATOGRAPHER: John Toon

EDITOR: David Coulson

MUSIC:

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Michael Kane

RUNNING TIME: 98 mins

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: August 7, 1997








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