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Australia, the magazine : Australia, the magazine
art & style 112 The day the Australian gangster movie Animal Kingdom won the 2010 Grand Jury Prize for World Cinema at the Sundance Film Festival was a happy one for Rachel Ward. Not that she had anything directly to do with the production. But as a maker of intimate, thoughtful Australian lms, the one-time Hollywood actress was chu ed to see some of her lmmaking compatriots achieve the kind of leg-up of which all producers of small-budget cinema dream. " at's what you want," she says. "Smaller budget lms need that kind of publicity for people to go and see them." Indeed, the buzz on Animal Kingdom was instant following the award. e Hollywood Reporter described it as "a brooding, intimate, clear-eyed look at the precipitous downfall of a family in the Melbourne under world. is crime lm is not jokey like a Quentin Tarantino lm, nor an epic romance like a Francis Ford Coppola lm. Instead writer- director David Michod opts for a naturalistic drama rich in psychology and a ention to details." is kind of sophisticated storytelling, Ward believes, is the next wave of Australian cinema. Having shown a certain face to the world with large brash comedies such as Priscilla Queen of the Desert, Muriel's Wedding and Strictly Ballroom, which painted a particular aspect of Australia's sense of humour, Ward believes the time is right to put for ward Australia's more complex face. "Our most enduring exports [in lm] are Nicole Kidman, Cate Blanche , Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Baz Luhrmann," she says. " at's moved on [from the Strictly Ballroom era)]. It's quite sophisticated and that does us extremely well. ey make us look good and a ractive and desirable and make people want to come here. "Muriel's Wedding and Strictly Ballroom did extremely well and hit the nail on the head as far as that aspect of ourselves goes. Of course comedy is about laughing at ourselves and we're particularly good at it, but it's not all of who we are. ere's quite a serious side and I don't think we should be embarrassed about that." For Ward, who shunned her big- budget movie career for life in Australia with her husband, the Australian actor Bryan Brown, and their family this translates to making lms that "are about us as humans." Her feature debut, Beautiful Kate starring Brown, Rachel Gri ths and Ben Mendelsohn is an un inching look at family dysfunction and dissolution. Not exactly the light and u y Australian ick of yore. And not that Australia hasn't always produced hard-hi ing movies. e Last Wave, Breaker Morant, Gallipoli, Romper Stomper, even 1975's Picnic at Hanging Rock all had undoubted seriousness to them. But Ward is one of a group of current lmmakers commi ed to showing the world Australia's place in a contemporary, collective humanity. "I want to do lms about what I see in us, which is complex, intelligent, sophisticated educated people," she says. "Personally, I want to see more of that. " When seeing lms I like to feel like I have travelled to Kazakhstan or Romania. A lot of people said that to me in Palm Springs." Beautiful Kate, set in the austere AUSTRALIAN FILM CONTINUES TO EVOLVE AND MATURE. BY JULIETTA JAMESON the new wave Rachel Ward is one of the crop of local film directors showing Australia in a new light. Beautiful Kate, featuring newcomer Sophie Lowe, presents serious issues about Australia. Matt Nettheim