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The iconoclastic new Australian low budget feature film, Bondi Tsunami, begins a national tour of cinemas under the care of the producers themselves this week, in a textbook example of what Australian filmmakers are being encouraged to do - find alternative ways of making and distributing their films in the face of an increasingly tough mainstream system. Andrew L. Urban reports. 

Bondi Tsunami was shot on DV cam by 28-year-old filmmaker Rachael Lucas, her brother-in-law Anthony Lucas Smith (producer) and sister Naomi Lucas Smith (assistant director), of Sydney based Burlesque Productions. The cast, Taki Abe (Shark), Keita Abe (Yuto) Miki Sasaki (Kimiko) and Nobu Hisa Ikeda (Gunja Man) are all first timers too; the film was made with no official script, no experienced actors, no experienced crew and virtually no budget, except what could be put on credit cards. To the tune of $150,000.

The film follows the psychedelic adventures of four punked up Japanese surfers as they venture up the spectacular east coast of Australia in a 1961 EK Holden. 

“Japan has a $5 billion a year surfing industry and no one had made the Japanese equivalent of Endless Summer yet so it was a fairly well calculated guess that the film would find an audience, at least Japan,” says Lucas. “Perhaps the upside of having no government funding was that I had complete creative control over her film and was able to break through the barriers of conventional western film making,” with what her colleagues call a cutting edge music video-like format.

"Pop Cinema Fusion"

The filmmakers say “the movie’s key philosophy is based in the Zen and samurai notions of void and emptiness, which are expressed in an MTV pop format. The film’s themes have global relevance though to the me generation of the now; the young, commitment free, substance abusing collective that search for identity and spiritual guidance on the eternal student/ traveller highway- a self centered generation where marriage, mortgage, long service to gold watch and kids are no destination. 

“Bondi Tsunami falls into the genre of Pop Cinema Fusion, or cinema born of other cinema/ media as it takes inspiration from pop iconography, the surfing subculture as portrayed in magazines and advertising, Japanese manga cartoons and images of the Australian landscape as portrayed in calendars and postcards. There are also moments in the film that resemble Spaghetti Western clichés, Asian Karoke videos, 1960s 8mm home movies and the surfing movies of the 1970s.”

Two scenes from Bondi Tsunami have been made into short films; Beach Route won the Port Macquarie Short Film festival in November 2003 and Gunja Men Ahead made the official selection at the New York Short Film Festival in February 2004.

Much of the movie was shot around the NSW Central Coast beaches such as Forresters, North Entrance, Shelly Beach, MacMasters Toowoon Bay and many scenes filmed at the caravan parks, like Blue Lagoon Caravan Park, Toowoon Bay Caravan Park, and a big scene at the Toowoon Bay take away shop called The Bay Café. Many local surfers featured in the surfing scenes. Water cameraman Dean Pinsak (a Terrigal local) filmed the surfing scenes from the water.

For the past year, the production team have been running an international Vote for Your Town Campaign through the film’s web site, where people from all over Australia have had the chance to vote for Bondi Tsunami to screen in their town. Thousands of votes later, the Bondi Tsunami national movie tour had its premiere in Cobar, NSW (one of the shooting locations and the town with the most votes), on September 3, 2004.

"to bring the feeling of a movie premiere"

The film has been booked into dozens of cinemas around Australia, starting with Sydney’s Valhalla, Bondi Junction Greater Union, Randwick Ritz and Cronulla. It then begins a major regional tour through NSW, Queensland and Victoria, hitting Melbourne’s Astor and Cinema Europa in December. Tasmania, South Australia and Western Australian dates follow in January and February.

The aim of the tour is to bring the feeling of a movie premiere to the people of country Australia. Inspired by the surfing movie tours of the 1960s and 1970s, each screening will be a fun event complete with red carpet, crew, cast and car (the 1961 EK Holden), a small touring exhibition of props and costumes from the movie, merchandise and the opportunity for the audience to meet the film makers. 

Bondi Tsunami National Tour Dates 2004 – 2005

Valhalla Glebe Sept 30th Screening with Q & A (02) 9660 8050
Valhalla Glebe Oct 1st Limited Season Starts (02) 9660 8050
Bondi Junction Greater Union Nov 24th (02) 9300 1555
Randwick Ritz Cinema Nov 25th (02) 9399 5722
Cronulla Cinema Centre Nov 29th (02) 9523 0555

Dubbo RSL Club Sept 7th (02) 6882 4411
Forbes Park View Cinema Sept 9th (02) 6851 2150
Orange Metro Cinema Sept 11th & 12th (02) 6363 1100
Bathurst Metro Cinema Sept 13th (02) 6331 6737
Katoomba - The Edge Cinema Sept 16th (02) 4782 8900
Avoca Beach Theatre Oct 1st & 2nd (02) 4381 1488
Avoca Beach Theatre Oct 3rd Limited Season Starts
Tuggerah Greater Union Oct 4th (02) 4353 4181
Newcastle Showcase City Cinemas Oct 6th (02) 4929 5019 
Sawtell First Avenue Cinema Oct 15th (02) 6653 3119
Yamba Cinema Oct 17th (02) 6646 3430
Ballina Fair Cinemas Oct 19th (02) 6686 9600
Byron Cinemas Oct 21st “Screening & Q & A” (02) 6680 8555
Tamworth Regent Cinema 4 Nov 15th (02) 6766 3707
Port Macquarie - Port Panthers Nov 18th (02) 6580 2300
Wollongong Town Hall & Community Centre Dec 1st (02) 4225 2633
Goulburn Lilac City Cinemas Dec 2nd (02) 4822 1616
Nowra Cinema Centre Dec 6th, 7th, 8th (02) 4423 5222
Ulladulla Arcadia Twin Cinema Dec 9th (02) 4454 1224
Batemans Bay - Bay City Cinemas Dec 10th, 11th, 12th (02) 4472 6009
Merimbula - The Picture Show Man Cinemas Dec 12th (02) 6495 3744

Canberra Civic Greater Union Cinema Dec 3rd (02) 6247 5522 

Brisbane City Regent Greater Union / Hoyts Cinemas Oct 28th (07) 3229 5544 
Brisbane - The Tivoli Oct 29th “Screening & After Party” (07) 3852 1711 

Surfers Paradise – The Gold Coast Art Centre Oct 24th & Nov 11th (07) 5588 4000
Southport - Australia Fair Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinema Oct 25th (07) 5531 2200 
Maroochydore Birch Carroll & Coyle Cinema Nov 1st (07) 5479 2799 
AMC Noosa 5 Cinemas Nov 4th (07) 5447 5130 
Nambour Cinema Nov 6th (07) 5475 7777
Coolangatta Birch Carroll & Coyle Nov 8th (07) 5536 9300 
Toowoomba Grand Central Nov 12th (07) 4638 0879 

The Astor Theatre Dec 18th “Melbourne Premiere & After Party” Dec 18th (03) 9510 1414
Cinema Europa, Village Cinemas Southland Dec 20th, 21st, 22nd, 23rd, 24th (03) 9582 5000 

Portsea - The Portsea Camp Dec 29th & 30th (03) 5984 2333
Torquay Surfworld Cinema Jan 3rd (03) 5261 4606
Ocean Grove Surfside Cinema (Shell Road Ocean Grove) Jan 4th 
Geelong Village Cinemas Jan 5th (03) 5229 3006
Ballarat Regent Cinema Jan 30th (03) 5331 1556

Hobart Village Cinemas Jan 20th (03) 6234 7288
Hobart State Cinema Jan 21st Limited Season Starts (03) 6234 6318
Launceston Village Cinema Jan 23rd (03) 6331 5066
Devonport Cmax Cinema Jan 27th Limited season starts (03) 6420 2111 


Adelaide Academy Cinema City Feb 2nd (08) 8223 5000
Adelaide City Greater Union Feb 3rd (08) 8231 5961

Perth, Margaret River, Alice Springs, Darwin, Cairns
Please check www.bonditsunami.com.au for dates.

Published September 30, 2004

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