THE DROVER’S WIFE: THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON (SXSW 21) – Review by Leslie Combemale

In Australia, the first laws against domestic abuse were passed in the 1970s. Back in the 1800s, it wasn’t seen as a crime. That’s the era in which Indigenous writer/director/lead actor Leah Purcell’s film The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson takes place. The film takes the Australian romantic myth of frontier freedom and egalitarianism for all, and blows it to smithereens, giving audiences a bleak look into the challenges for indigenous people and women of the time.

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THE DROVER’S WIFE: THE LEGEND OF MOLLY JOHNSON (SXSW 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

It might be hard to watch The Drover’s Wife and resist the temptation to draw parallels with Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale. Like The Nightingale, the film pivots around the relationship between a man and a woman from very different cultural and social positions based largely on their perceived race. Gendered violence and a revenge also feature heavily, but The Drover’s Wife deviates from The Nightingale significantly if only due to their very different histories, both in terms of their productions and their broader cultural legacies.

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ELLIE & ABBIE (& ELLIE’S DEAD AUNT) (MIFF 2020) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

To call Australian filmmaker Monica Zanetti’s Ellie & Abbie (& Ellie’s Dead Aunt) a delight is an understatement. It’s a wholly charming if not at-first seemingly pedestrian coming-of-age queer love story between high school girls in Sydney, but when Ellie’s eponymous “dead aunt” Tara enters the picture, this seemingly light-hearted romantic romp finds its depths.

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DIRT MUSIC – Review by April Neale

Dirt Music would have made a brilliant TV series, there is so much character and backstory to unpack. That is the biggest criticism for this epic love triangle set in the sweeping expanse of arid Western Australia. Placed in the right hands, it could have been the next Netflix hit potboiler — the Ozark of Australia.

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TRUE HISTORY OF THE KELLY GANG – Review by Martha K Baker

Anyone who has traveled to Australia in person or through films or books knows the legend of Ned Kelly. Peter Carey, who wrote Oscar and Lucinda, wrote a novel about Ned Kelly on which this bloody film is based. The story, true or not, is set in the Australian bush, starting in 1867.

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MORGANA – Review by Sarah Ward

Isabel Peppard and Josie Hess’s sex-positive, anti-ageist documentary celebrates Morgana Muses’ later-in-life sexual awakening and new career, the empowerment that came with it, her role in championing pornography made for the female gaze and the inspirational status she now holds; however it doesn’t hide the engrained self-doubt that continues to plague its subject.

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Kim Farrant on acting, emotional health and ANGEL OF MINE – Leslie Combemale interviews

Kim Farrant’sAngel of Mine is an intense thriller about a woman whose tenuous emotional health is jeopardized when she encounters a girl she believes to be her daughter, whom she thought died in a fire years before. Farrant worked with the actors on expressing the enormity of grief and the power of healing in this gripping film with a big surprise ending.

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