Current Issue #488

Exploring the American Essentials of Cinema

Exploring the American Essentials of Cinema

The American Essentials Film Festival will bring some of the most talked-about films from the US festival circuit to Australian screens, along with a couple of true classics.

Twenty critically awarded feature and documentary films will premiere on Australian soil for the festival. Ranging from comedies to thrillers, the films are powerful and entertaining, catering to a variety of different audiences. The line up is curated by Artistic Director Richard Sowada, and also includes 10 masters and masterpieces, featuring newly restored American classics such as Eraserhead and Annie Hall.

Here we present a selection of five of these new American Essentials.

20th Century Women

Opening night begins with 20th Century Women from Oscar winning director Mike Mills. Detailing a mother’s struggle to bring up her teenage son, this feel-good film documents life’s ups and downs and the difficulties of becoming a man. The film has received an overwhelming amount of high praise, with an Academy Award Nomination for Best Original Screenplay and a Golden Globe Awards Nomination for Best Picture Musical or Comedy. New York Times described the film as “a funny, emotionally piercing story”.

Becoming Bond

The centerpiece of the festival, and dubbed by Rolling Stone as a must see film at the South By South West Film Festival, Josh Greenbaum’s Becoming Bond discusses the once-off Bond, George Lazenby. The film explores the mystery around his quick departure from 007, with an open Lazenby reflecting on his personal experiences, depicted through stylized interpretations by Josh Lawson.

From Nowhere

Matthew Newton’s From Nowhere is a prominent film in this year’s features lineup. Its premiere in Texas at the South By Southwest Film Festival saw it win the festival’s Narrative Spotlight Audience Award in 2016. The storyline follows three undocumented teenagers who are about to graduate high school whilst trying to get immigration papers to stay in the US. Making its rounds on the international film festival circuit, From Nowhere has also won awards at Paris’s Champs-Elysees Film Festival: Jury Mention Best American Independent Film 2016 and Audience Award best American Independent Film 2016.

David Lynch: The Art Life

Also sprouting from the South By Southwest Festival, this documentary gives an insight into the lesser-known side of director David Lynch: his visual arts. Lynch himself shares his practices, ideas, motivations and unique outlook on his craft and life, and how this led to the making of his debut feature, Eraserhead. The New York Times describes it as “a fond portrait of how one man nurtured his artistic temperament and risked being misunderstood”.

Walking Out

Written and directed by Montana brothers Alex and Andrew Smith, Walking Out premiered at Sundance Film Festival. Variety says the film “nicely undercuts the tension of its man-against-nature narrative with the growing warmth and humor between father and son”. It tells the story of a son who visits his father once a year to reconnect through hunting, however this year sees a turn for the worse and the pair are forced to man together for survival.

Festival Dates:

Thursday, 18 May – Sunday, 28 May
Palace Nova Cinemas

Tuesday, 9 May – Wednesday, 24 May
Palace Verona and Palace Norton Street

Tuesday, 16 May – Sunday, 28 May
Palace Electric Cinema

Wednesday, 17 May – Sunday, 28 May
Palace Centro

Full program available at

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