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Although the title sounds a tad paternalistic, the festival known as Cinema Des Antipodes, is in fact a genuine tribute to Australian and New Zealand filmmaking, founded four years ago by Australia’s ‘French connection’, Bernard Bouries. This year’s event at St Tropez, was officially launched at a Paris breakfast by Australia’s French Ambassador. Helen Barlow reports from the house that Gough built.

The Ambassador's suite of the Australian Embassy in Paris (the house that Gough Whitlam built when he was relieved of his duties as Prime Minister in Australia) is not a bad place to have breakfast, with magnificent views of the Seine and the Eiffel Tower. Ambassador William Fisher was hosting a press launch for the Festival of Antipodean Cinema at St Tropez, which of course is not a bad place to view movies either. The French beer, Kronenbourg (beer being seen as "a typical Australian product") is the principal sponsor.

The Festival, founded by Frenchman Bernard Bouries, is now in its fourth year, and will screen a host of features, many of which have already released in Australia, like Paul Goldman's Australian Rules, about a 16-year-old footballer and his impossible love for an Aboriginal girl. But there are the exceptions, such as Jenny Lowdon Kendall's Dancing in The Dust, about the adoption of mixed race children by whites, and focusing on two
generations of aboriginal women. 

Also in the program is the fully French-financed production, L'Idole directed by Samantha Lang (The Monkey’s Mask), who has been living in Paris for two and a half years. Lang came to the breakfast having just returned from the Toronto Festival, where she said the response to her film was "fantastic. The Canadian press really liked it." 

L'Idole, which was shot in French and stars Leelee Sobieski, who is half-French, will be released in France by Mars Films, who recently had a huge success (100,000 tickets sold) with the Australian film, Lantana. Lang will soon negotiate a distributor for L'Idole for Australia and other territories, and she hopes to visit St Tropez along with other Australians, including Paul Cox (who is currently teaching cinema at a German University) and who will present the Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky, Nadia Tass (Malcom) and David Parker (Diana and Me).

World premieres at the Festival are in the short film competition: Shit Skin by Nicholas Boseley about an aboriginal family who travel into the outback in search of their family; and Daniel King's Mirror Images, which looks at domestic violence and alcoholism in an aboriginal family. 

The other Festival highlight will be a retrospective of the films of New Zealander Vincent Ward, a long-time Sydney resident, who is currently preparing a film about Caravaggio. Previous retrospectives focused on Fred Schepisi, Gillian Armstrong and Peter Weir. 

Published October 3, 2002

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St Tropez, Oct 14-20, 2002



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