The film component of the Brooklyn Academy of Music's (BAM) New Wave Down Under Festival opens with new Australian film Lantana this Thursday (Oct 4). BAM decided that the month-long celebration of Australian arts and culture should go ahead despite the tragic events in New York and Washington of September 11, and it is now being pitched as Australia's contribution to the recovery.
Were co-curator and Australian critic Paul Byrnes to now suggest a name for the program, it would probably not be 'Killing The Koala'. BAM also asked for a selection demonstrating the diversity and uniqueness of Australian films and Byrnes chose the 1990s. As it is, the title is a good match for the decade that saw films move out of the bush and into the cities, and begin to examine the real Australia, rather than create or feed the myths depicted in 1970s and 1980s films. At least that's how Byrnes sees it.
He says there is little of significance that isn't among the 25 features, although films such as Strictly Ballroom and Shine have not been included because their popularity meant they have probably been seen by many patrons. His personal favourite remains Muriel's Wedding, but he regards Romper Stomper and Chopper, both quite violent films, as the most important. The two archive films that are included are the 1927 film The Kid Stakes and the 1978 film Newsfront.