THAT’S NOT ME — Review by Moira Sullivan

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There is nothing more painful than watching aspiring actresses pursue the road to Hollywood when they haven’t got a portfolio, an agent or acting credits. This is the premise of That’s Not Me, starring Australian filmmaker Alice Foulcher who co-wrote and served as co-executive producer in this indie directed and co-written by her husband Greg Erdstein. The film premiered at the 2017 Melbourne International Film Festival. Foulcher is a director, producer and writer of several successful short films, and we are looking forward to her feature length directorial debut. Continue reading…

A series of humorous and self-critical scenes confirm the acting talent of Alice Foulcher, showing us in every situation the irony of her character’s pursuit in a world that is addicted to the surface reality of entertainment and its players. Foulcher shows us that the road to stardom obviously does not begin with a name in lights but is written on a bathroom wall. The opening scene shows us Polly Cuthbright, the twin sister of Amy, a somewhat famous Australian actress seated on a toilet giving her speech after winning an Oscar and thanking everyone including her sister nominees. This is not the first time she will land near a toilet bowl in a series of misses rather than hits that include men she meets at parties and playing bit roles such as an Albino.

Nor is it her ambition to be assistant manager at a local movie theater and even her close friends would rather she pretend to be Amy than just be herself. Her parents keep scrapbooks of their two daughters and though Polly’s is thin, her room is plastered with a treasure map of photographs and encouraging headlines from magazines about successful actors. Boldly and undeterred, Polly decides to go to Hollywood to make these affirmations come true, just as compatriot Cate Blanchett once did.

Attempting to get into the US as an actor alerts a customs agent to her immigration status as a non-resident. A former unsuccessful actor, he cautions her about the perils of tinseltown and when learning she has neither job, agent nor portfolio crosses out her occupation as actor and changes it to tourist. This actually turns out to be true, for on her first day in Hollywood, she is invited to make the rounds in the business with the friend she stays with, an Australian actress who dumps a bag of dead fish on the desk of a casting office receptionist to get noticed. Her moment of fame consists of aspirants in the waiting room filming the incident on their cellphones as she entices them to “Remember this face”. The general malaise she feels after a few days in Hollywood shakes Polly, and she asks mum and dad for help to get back home.

That’s Not Me candidly shows a young woman caught up in the imaginary world of acting. Success is measured by a face and name that everyone recognizes, notwithstanding talent. Twin sister Amy complains that the paparazzi, establishments wanting endorsements, and autograph and selfie hunters represent the kind of exposure she doesn’t want. Success has a life of its own – vividly distinct from being an actor and this is the world this film shows. The obvious paradox is that all the aspirations to become an actor produce a lifestyle of its own that has little to do with acting.

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Moira Sullivan

Moira Sullivan is an international film critic, scholar, lecturer, promoter and experimental filmmaker based in San Francisco. She is a member of FIPRESCI (Federation of International Film Critics) and has a PhD in cinema studies. Sullivan is one of the world's experts on the work of the legendary filmmaker Maya Deren (1917-1961). A native of San Francisco, Sullivan wrote her doctoral thesis and subsequent publication on Maya Deren's avantgarde and ethnographic filmmaking. Sullivan has been invited to special universities and art schools honoring Maya Deren in Italy, France, Germany, Sweden and the USA. Since 1995 Sullivan has been a staff writer for Movie Magazine International, San Francisco and does weekly radio reports on film reviews, film events and festivals. She also writes from named for Agnès Varda.