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2003

Tim Burstall to deliver annual Longford Lyell Lecture in Melbourne

10 September 2003

AFC/ScreenSound

One of Australia's most important filmmakers, Tim Burstall, will deliver this year's Longford Lyell Lecture in Melbourne in October. ScreenSound Australia, the National Screen and Sound Archive, presents the Longford Lyell Lecture each year as part of its role in collecting, preserving and making accessible Australia's film heritage. The lecture series explores and celebrates Australia's film history through presentations by prominent members of the industry.

Maureen Barron, Chair of the Australian Film Commission, who will introduce the lecture, said 'Tim Burstall is one of the groundbreakers of the Australian film industry. His work was at the forefront of the renaissance of Australian cinema in the '60s and '70s and with films such as Stork, Petersen, Alvin Purple and Kangaroo, he has been celebrated both at home and on the international stage.'

Tim Burstall will talk about the challenges he has faced in making Australian films. The lecture will be illustrated by clips from his works and followed by a screening of his 1986 feature film Kangaroo, based on the D H Lawrence novel. Featuring Judy Davis and Colin Friels, Kangaroo tells of Lawrence's experiences in Australia in 1922.

Tim Burstall has achieved prominence as a director, writer, producer, innovator and commentator. He has made 15 feature films, more than 35 short films plus several television series and mini-series across many genres.

His formidable body of work includes some of the best known and acclaimed work in Australian cinema history. In 1960 Burstall's first film, The Prize, won an award at the Venice Film Festival. In the 1970s he produced and directed Stork and Alvin Purple, followed by Petersen and Eliza Fraser. His action features include Attack Force Z, starring Mel Gibson and Sam Neill, and The Last of the Knucklemen. He has worked extensively in television with credits including A Descant for Gossips, The Man From Snowy River series, Great Expectations—The Untold Story, Water Rats, and many more.

Burstall has received numerous AFI Awards, including Best Director and Best Film, as well as receiving the prestigious AFI Raymond Longford Award for significant contributions to the Australian film industry. He has been a Board Member of Film Victoria and also been awarded an AM for his work in the industry.

This year's lecture, presented in partnership with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI), will be held in Melbourne for the first time. The Lecture will be held at the ACMI on Saturday 4 October 2003 at 6.30pm. Tickets are $12, with concessions (including ScreenSound Australia Club members) at $9. Bookings: Australian Centre for the Moving Image box office on 03 8663 2583, email info@acmi.net.au or online at www.acmi.net.au.

The Longford Lyell Lecture series provides an opportunity for ScreenSound Australia to share the history of the Australian film industry through the personal experience of key industry practitioners. The lecture is named after the creative partnership of Australian film pioneers, Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell. Previous speakers include producers Tony Buckley and Jan Chapman.

A backgrounder on Tim Burstall is attached.

Contact details: David Hogan, 02 6248 2002 or david.hogan@screensound.gov.au

BACKGROUNDER

2003 Longford Lyell Lecture, Saturday 4 October

From Dunny, Damnation to Distinction
Tim Burstall on Tim Burstall


Australia was fortunate when, in the late 1950s, Tim Burstall decided against installing a septic tank in his Eltham mud brick home and instead put the ?200 towards the production of his first film, The Prize, which won an award at the Venice Film Festival.

Like Australian cinema pioneers, Raymond Longford and Lottie Lyell, Tim Burstall is one of the groundbreakers of the Australian film industry—with his work having been variously damned, dismissed, praised, reappraised and celebrated.

On Saturday 4 October 2003, Burstall will deliver the 2003 ScreenSound Australia Longford Lyell Lecture. He will talk about his career and the myriad of challenges, personal and professional, that he has faced, most of which are still highly relevant to the Australian film industry.

Burstall's talk will be illustrated with clips from his works—features, shorts and TV productions—and will conclude with a screening of his 1986 feature film, Kangaroo (108 minutes), based on the D.H. Lawrence novel. Featuring Judy Davis and Colin Friels, Kangaroo tells of Lawrence's experiences of Australia in 1922 and is a story of power and prejudice, love and desire.

The Longford Lyell Lecture presented by ScreenSound Australia, the National Screen and Sound Archive, is an annual event celebrating Australia's film heritage. ScreenSound Australia is proud to partner with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image to present, for the first time in Melbourne, the 2003 lecture and screening.

Following The Prize, and while contemplating his next film, Burstall was advised in the United States that the best bet for an Australian feature film would be the international art house market. He made 2000 Weeks, the story of a journalist who wants to write a television drama. It was poorly received and savagely attacked by local film critics.

Burstall believed, like Billy Wilder, that good films were, '85 per cent the script'. In 1967, Burstall's wife, Betty Burstall, began a Writer's Workshop in Carlton (La Mama) and almost immediately David Williamson appeared. Stork evolved from a La Mama theatre production and the resulting film was the first of the so-called 'ocker' comedies with its humour targeting the social goals and values of middle class conformity. Stork scooped the pool at the AFI Awards and became the first commercial success in Australia since the 1950s. One of the key marketing strategies was not to promote it as an Australian film.

Produced and directed by Bustall, Alvin Purple, while wildly successful, became another opportunity for his critics to damn him. He remarked in an interview that, at this stage of its development, the Australian film industry needed a commercial success more than a critical one. This was interpreted as evidence that he had sold out and the film was labeled as 'soft porn' and 'Carry-On sex mania'.

More recently, Ben Goldsmith in The Oxford Companion to Australian Film says it is '…one of the seminal films of the 1970s. The definitive ocker comedy'.

Other significant films followed:
Petersen, Jack Thompson's first feature film
End Play, starring John Waters and Delvene Delaney
Eliza Fraser, Australia's first film with a $1 million budget, starring Susannah York
The Naked Country based on the novel by Morris West
The Last of the Knucklemen, an action feature starring Gerard Kennedy and Steve Bisley
Attack Force Z, starring Mel Gibson and Sam Neill.

To date Burstall has made 15 feature films and more than 35 short films. He has worked extensively in television with credits including A Descant for Gossips, The Man From Snowy River series, Great Expectations—The Untold Story, Water Rats and many more.

Burstall has been a Film Victoria board member and the recipient of numerous AFI Awards, including Best Director and Best Film. He has also received the prestigious AFI Raymond Longford Award for 'A significant contribution to the Australian film industry'. He was distinguished with an AM for his work in and contribution to the Australian film industry. Burstall is currently developing a new film but as he remarked 'until the first day of the shoot it is bad luck to reveal details of the production'.

This evening with Tim Burstall promises to be informative, humorous and highly enjoyable.

ScreenSound Australia, the National Screen and Sound Archive, presents the Longford Lyell Lecture each year as part of the its role in collecting, preserving and making accessible Australia's film heritage. The lecture series explores and celebrates Australia's film history through presentations by prominent members of the industry.

Event ScreenSound Australia 2003 Longford Lyell Lecture, presented in partnership with the Australian Centre for the Moving Image
Where Australian Centre for the Moving Image
When Saturday 4 October, 6.30pm
Cost $12 full $9 concession (including ScreenSound Australia Club members)
Bookings Australian Centre for Moving Image box office on 03 8663 2583, email info@acmi.net.au or online at www.acmi.net.au

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