DRY WINTER (MIFF2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Kyle Davis’s Dry Winter taps into a recent tradition in Australian independent cinema of low-key portraits of outsiders looking for a way in, capturing a spirit of authenticity through the use of non-professional actors. Even further capturing the spirit of true independent filmmaking, this project was far from the product of established industry insiders – Davis, along with the bulk of the film’s crew, are all graduates of Adelaide’s Flinders University. But this is no student film; Dry Winter is a confident, poetic portrait of lost time and treading water in the small-town wastelands of rural Australia.

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POLY STYRENE: I AM A CLICHÉ (MIFF2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

“My mother was a punk rock icon”, filmmaker Celeste Bell says as the film begins. “People often ask me if she was a good mum. It’s hard to know what to say.” Beginning at the end of her mother’s life with Marianne’s funeral, Bell continues to explain how “surreal” the event was, surrounded by people who were mourning an image, while she was suffering the loss of her mother, with whom we discover as the film continues, she had a tumultuous yet ultimately warm and close relationship.

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DEUX FOIS (MIFF2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

The 1968 experimental film Deux fois marked the fearless debut of Éric Rohmer’s one-time editor-turned-filmmaker herself, Jackie Raynal. Appearing as the film’s central protagonist (alongside her co-star Francisco Viader), Raynal employs André Weinfeld’s striking black and white photography which follows her on a trip to Spain. Consisting of a series of at first seemingly disconnected vignettes (some of which are replayed, hence the title), Raynal’s loose, confident visual style invites us to map links between each moment, reaching into ourselves as much as into the film itself, and thus acting as a provocation of sorts for us to divine our own meaning, on our own terms.

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EL PLANETA (MIFF2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Playing a vaguely fictionalized version of herself alongside a similarly quasi-autobiographical performance by her own mother, US-based Argentine-born director, writer and actor Amalia Ulman’s El Planeta is a charming lo-fi feminist comedy about a mother-and-daughter grifting duo. El Planeta is refreshingly original in its rethinking of the grifter film, adding humor but never it sacrificing its humanity.

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LA VERÓNICA (MIFF 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Chilean director Leonardo Madel’s La Verónica is a tale of a complex, flawed young woman trying to navigate her way through the jungle of contemporary life with only her own personal strengths and weaknesses to guide her. With an actor of Mariana Di Girólamo’s remarkable talent behind the wheel, it cannot fail to captivate.

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SISTERS WITH TRANSISTORS (MIFF 2021) – Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Sisters with Transistors makes an explicit connection between the assumed ‘boys club’ nature of electronic music and the broader plight of feminism more generally explicit. All those catch phrases and keywords that have been tethered to the former since its conception – speaking up, being heard, making noise – are granted remarkable new meaning when tied so explicitly to the history of women in electronic music, and how broadly their place in that history has been denied.

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Women at Melbourne International Film Festival 2019 – Alexandra Heller-Nicholas reports

Topping off a stellar year for the work of women filmmakers at the 68th iteration of the Melbourne International Film Festival, that Jennifer Kent’s The Nightingale won The Age Critics Award for the year – the festival’s most esteemed accolade – comes as little surprise. Writing in The Age newspaper (the award issuer), Australian film critic Sandra Hall wrote of Kent’s fearless sophomore feature “We found Jennifer Kent’s depiction of early 19th century Tasmania utterly convincing…the film’s portrayal and condemnation of violence against women is just as pertinent today as it was then.”

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ADAM – Melbourne IFF Review by Alexandra Heller-Nicholas

Playing in the prestigious Un Certain Regard category of this year’s Cannes film festival, director and screenwriter Maryam Touzani’s Moroccan-set feature film debut Adam is demonstrating further international appeal with its recent screening at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

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In The Muck of It: The Films of Ann Turner — Profile by Alexandra Heller Nicholas

I’m sitting in a small private booth at the Australian Mediatheque at Melbourne’s Australian Centre for the Moving Image, waiting

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Melbourne International Film Festival 2017’s PIONEERING WOMEN Program — Jennifer Merin reports

The success of Jennifer Kent’s The Babadook (2014) focused international attention on Australian women filmmakers. Australia’s film feminism is being

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