GENERAL: Australian director Philippe Mora will introduce his new film 'Absolutely Modern' in an Australian premiere: Arc Cinema, National Film and Sound Archive, Sat 30 Nov 2pm.
Although mostly based overseas for the last 30 years, Philippe Mora has continued to make films that, while hard to see in his home country, are just as idiosyncratic as his 1970s and ‘80s cult movies 'Mad Dog Morgan', 'The Howling II' and 'The Return of Captain Invincible'.
His more recent features – such as 2009’s 'The Gertrude Stein Mystery' or 'Some Like It Art' or 2011's 'German Sons' – mark a return to the archive-sourced docudrama-making of his early films, such as 1974’s 'Swastika' and 1975’s 'Brother Can You Spare a Dime?'
Mora has long cherished the plan of making a film that tells some of the stories from his own Melbourne childhood. As the son of art dealer George and artist Mirka Mora, he lived among the extended ‘Heide’ community of artists that spread out around the Moras' friends, the arts patrons John and Sunday Reed.
Philippe Mora has finally realised this project in a new ‘documentary’, 'Absolutely Modern', which premieres in Australia at Arc Cinema on Saturday 30 November at 2pm.
'Absolutely Modern' takes the form of a ‘mockumentary’, a film that satirises the conventions of documentary cinema.
At first the film seems like a TV documentary on the history of Australian modernist painting, with a special focus on the personal lives and creativity of the Heide artistic community, including famous names like Sidney Nolan, Arthur Boyd, John Perceval, Charles Blackman, Albert Tucker and Joy Hester.
Philippe Mora himself plays the ‘documentary’s’ narrator, the establishment English art critic, Lord Steinway.
But after opening scenes that seem like a conventional arts documentary, 'Absolutely Modern' takes (as Mora says) “… a modernist twist itself”, when Mora’s Lord Steinway character has an unexpected on-screen reunion with his long-lost, soccer-playing son Jack (played by European soccer star Mario Melchiot).
From there, 'Absolutely Modern' becomes a delightful satire on how art critics view the story of modern Australian art. It’s also, for Mora, a fond, personal tribute to the creative milieu that made him, and the many friends of his childhood.
“Mora tells perhaps one of his most personal stories to date as he examines art and modernism. Mora, who casual fans would most likely know from such films as 'Communion' and cult classic 'The Return of Captain Invincible', unsurprisingly does not tell the tale with any regard for the norms of convention...” (Screen International)
The screening is presented in collaboration with the Jewish Film Foundation of Australia.
'Absolutely Modern' trailer
Sydney & Melbourne (Nationwide)
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