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Newcastle is a working class seaside town, with steel at its heart - but not in it. The brothers Sean (Adam Garcia) and Mitchell (Sam Worthington), have been tap dancing since they were toddlers. As young men, they work in the steel mill like everyone else, but Sean's feet are pointing away from here, to tap into his future. Mitchell is more inclined to start a trucking business. Their widowed dad prefers Mitch's option, unaware that Mitchell is doing a bit of illegal car stripping to help save up for a truck. This creates bitter rivalry with a fellow car 'operator', which leads to a fatal confrontation. Meanwhile, both brothers fall for Linda (Sophie Lee), with dramatic consequences. And in a tough town like Newcastle, where dancing men are often misunderstood, it takes the town's misfortune to put Sean's tapping ambitions into perspective.

"If you ever suffered under the misconception that dancing is a sissy thing for men to do, this film will certainly challenge that. They tap on metal grills, on giant rolling tubes of steel, on metal trapdoors and cages, they tap on concrete floors and - memorably on a set of steel toilets in a row (under construction, so no walls are in place). Their giant metal taps are attached to workmen's boots with giant soles and bulbous toes. Their costumes are their clothes; jeans, singlets, shirts tied round the waist in the fashion of 2000 and tousled hair. The working class origins of the world famous Tap Dogs and Steel City troupe are here preserved and massaged for all they are worth. But a word of warning: this is not a lighthearted musical with lots of tap dancing to a rhythm splattered soundtrack. It has the latter, but the film is a drama with tragic elements, and the tap dancing is an integral part of the story, with emotional and psychological elements. Not that it's 'heavy'; far from it; in fact some of it is out loud funny, and some of it is wryly amusing. In fact the script is a ripper, handling the varied elements and moods with fine judgement, translated onto the screen with verve, energy and flair by Dein Perry, whose own Newcastle upbringing provided some of the seed elements for the story. He also handles the chunky, industrial strength choreography, which has evolved through the phenomenally successful Tap Dogs and Steel City stage shows. All the same, movie fans will recognise the classic hallmarks of some old Hollywood standards here (including an unaccountably expanded tapping troupe which performs the finale number - but this is a forgivable invention in the scheme of things), based on the premise of mounting a show against all the odds for a resounding finale. Bootmen is unmistakably Australian, however, and never allows sloppy sentimentality to loosen its dramatic grip on the audience, delivered by the best ensemble cast you're likely to see in a movie full of dancers, including Adam Garcia's outstanding screen debut in the lead role. Bootmen is a big step for Dein Perry and a giant leap for Australian filmmaking."
Andrew L. Urban

"Dein Perry's Bootmen explodes onto the screen with spirit, rhythm and pizzazz in one of the most exciting Australian films of the year. Just as Strictly Ballroom shattered our preconceptions about ballroom dancing, Bootmen puts the innovative and hip into tap. Set on a backdrop of Newcastle's steel industry, this story of passion, dreams and relationships is jam-packed with drama, humour, excitement and industrial strength tap dancing. And how those big dusty boots can tap! This is as far-removed from patent leather and the Golden Years of Hollywood as you can get! The intensity of Cezary Skubienski's pounding soundtrack is the emotional magnet that compels us into this world, where dreams are not only the motivation, but also the catalysts for relationships and the pathway to survival. There may be certainly some parallels with the industrial setting of The Full Monty, but Bootmen is an original, whose complexity lies in the mix of characters, the dramatic curves and the carefree inspiration that dance improvisation brings. Adam Garcia heads a superb cast, epitomising the struggles, the conflict and the joyful art of expression. Reminiscent at times of October Sky, the most moving theme is the development of the father/son relationship; one that is resolved emotionally in a satisfying and credible way. Bootmen, with its moody cinematography, striking production design and well structured script, takes us deep into Steel City where steel is not only the industry but the strength and quality of spirit. Fresh, funny, sad and inspiring, Bootmen is an explosion of energy; a hugely engaging and enjoyable experience, that is thoroughly recommended."
Louise Keller

"Get your steel capped boots ready because Bootmen will make you want to start dancing in the aisles. Dein Perry's exhilirating debut is simply smashing entertainment which has steel in its script to match the metal in the boots of its fantastically talented heroes. Sure, it's the old "let's put on a show" formula but done with such energy and heart it's impossible not to be swept up by it. What makes Bootmen such a joy is not just that it has dazzling dance routines to spare. It's also the truth and emotional honesty on display as these working class guys who work at a faltering steel mill and play rugby league decide to do something about their dignity. The dialogue is totally believable; never making caricatures or false heroes out of the Bootmen, their friends or families. Films about dancers cast with dancers are dramatically a dicey proposition (witness Centre Stage for a good example) but not here. Sam Worthington, Adam Garcia and the rest of the stomping crew have got the chops for everything they're called on to do without any compromises being made. In Garcia, particularly, a major talent has arrived. Snapped up by Penny Marshall for a starring role in Riding In Cars With Boys, Garcia has star written all over him. Apart from the dance drawcard there's a sweet (with a little bitter thrown in) romance between Garcia and Sophie Lee, a delightful Susie Porter on the sidelines as a nagging girlfriendand, Richard Carter playing the brothers' Aussie working dad to perfection. This is uplifiting, exciting and simply joyous to behold."
Richard Kuipers

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CAST: Adam Garcia, Sam Worthington, Sophie Lee, William Zappa, Matt Lee, Chris Horsey, Lee McDonald, Drew Kaluski, Jonno Zissler, Richard Carter, Anthony Hayes, Justine Clarke, Susie Porter, Bruce Venables and Dein Perry

DIRECTOR: Dein Perry

PRODUCER: Hilary Linstead

SCRIPT: Steve Worland (story by Dein Perry, Hilary Linstead, Steve Worland)


EDITOR: Jane Moran

MUSIC: Cezary Skubiszewski


RUNNING TIME: 93 minutes




VIDEO RELEASE: May 2, 2001

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