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online exclusive - july 26


the bostock inheritance

keith gallasch: metro screen, lester bostock mentorship screenings


The Caretaker The Caretaker
THE SCREENING OF THE 2009 FILMS COMPRISING THE 11TH SERIES OF THE LESTER BOSTOCK INDIGENOUS MENTORSHIPS (NOW PART OF METRO SCREEN'S FIRST BREAK GRANTS SCHEME AS INDIGENOUS BREAKTHROUGH) WAS LAUNCHED BY THE MAN HIMSELF—A KEY PROGENITOR IN THE FOUNDING AND NURTURING OF AUSTRALIAN INDIGENOUS FILMMAKING IN THE 1980S AND 90S AT AFTRS AND METRO SCREEN. SINCE THE BOSTOCK MENTORSHIP'S INCEPTION IN THE 1990S 44 FILMS HAVE BEEN MADE AS PART OF THE PROGRAM.

Bostock, whose focus these days is on dealing with the challenges of disability in Aboriginal society (through the National Indigenous Disability Network), noted a long-term shift in Indigenous filmmaking from largely issue-based content to increasingly personal stories. However, he argued that "the only really political films" continued to be made by Aboriginals and with a distinctive filmmaking style.

Fault, directed by Martin Adams (mentored by Jason De Santolo), is immediately and cruelly suspenseful. An anxious, depleted man sits in a bleak room with a gun and the clack of a flip clock. 2:59. Cut to a laneway where we see him with a male friend. Cut to room. 3:11. The man looks suicidal. Cut to the man shooting his friend, accidentally, or so we think. There's a sharp knock on the door. We hear a gun shot. Cut to the man walking away with his friend, but time is out of whack—the man is now his younger self. At the moment of death he re-lives his lost friendship, even love perhaps. Fault is raw filmmaking, if spare and deftly edited. Its brevity and the focus on generating tension allow little room for character detail but its gritty mood (amplified by a grinding sound score between silences) and sense of loss is palpable.

Quarantine (director Tyrone Sheather, mentor Simon Portus) reveals a young couple in love, lolling on the grass beneath the looming stars, "together forever." Their reverie is interrupted by a massive crash. The young man pushes through the bush to find a smouldering comet. As the couple approach it the world of nature evaporates into an enveloping whiteness out of which men in protective outfits with guns and hypodermic needles emerge. The couple flee, but shot and bleeding, they fall. One of the men announces the need to quarantine the area as soon as possible: the couple have been infected by an alien virus and duly eliminated to prevent its spread. Some of the effects are striking, other moments are awkward, the dialogue is stilted and the story lacks the touch of complexity that could have lifted Quarantine out of the morass of the sci-fi paranoia genre.

Stylishly shot in widescreen, Alanna Rose's The Caretaker (mentor Margot Nash) is an accomplished film which immerses the viewer in the world of the ageing Willie “The Kid.” Willie, critically not identified as such until the end of the film when he turns to reveal the lettering on his jacket, sits centre screen in a boxing ring in a darkened space, the spare, sharp light dancing with dust. Looking at old photographs which "come to life," takes him back to his childhood. He and his brother, poor kids without a father, sneak into a boxing gym where they win the support of a trainer. Years later they crawl under a canvas into the world of tent boxing (a beautifully executed piece of editing in which we, with the boys, are confronted with a massive, gloriously red, beating drum).

Now grown up, the brothers are part of Australia's tent boxing world before it disappeared in 1971. Rain beats down as old Willie peers into his past. So far, we imagine The Caretaker to be in the tradition of the "could have been a contender" or "the down and out" school of boxing films. But the story here is even darker, one brother killing another with a calculated KO out of jealousy and ambition. Apparent nostalgia disturbingly mutates into real guilt. More than this, Willie, no longer a champion, has made himself look at his past.

While a couple of scenes are unnecessarily expository and the emotion is trowelled on at the end (an overlay of thunder and a good song with a strong hook), The Caretaker constitutes promising filmmaking from Rose and a strong cast and seriously expert crew. The film is dedicated to the memory of artist and filmmaker Michael Riley whose documentaries included Tent Boxers (1997). Alanna Rose has been awarded the 2010 Indigenous Breakthrough grant for $22,000 towards a film of up to 20 minutes and a range of support from Metro Screen.


Fault, writer, director Martin Adams, cinematography Fabio Cavadini, sound design, composition Grant Leigh Saunders, editor Peter Cramer, producer Jason De Santolo, actors Ken Canning, Scott Canning, Gio De Santolo, 4:50mins; Quarantine, director, writer Tyrone Sheather, cinematography Jack Anderson, sound Jason Dean, editor Peter Ward, producer Jack Anderson, actors Kay Cast, Dylan Underwood, 4:00mins; The Caretaker, writer, director Alanna Rose, cinematography Brandon Jones, production designer Brett Wilbe, editor Craig Savage & Oana Voicu, producer Jade Rose, actors Mick Mundine, DJ Mundine, Paul Sinclair, Kobi Hookey, Derek Walker, Tony Barry, Tony Ryan, Warwick Moss, 15:35mins; Lester Bostock Indigenous Mentorship screening, Chauvel Cinema, Sydney, April 20; www.metroscreen.org.au

RealTime issue #97 June-July 2010 pg. web

© Keith Gallasch; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

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