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Australia 2007
Directed by
Neil Mansfield
77 minutes
Rated G

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
4 stars


There are very few feature films made in Australia that fall into the category of art cinema. Those of Paul Cox, such as The Diaries of Vaslav Nijinsky (2001), come immediately to mind but they adhere relatively conventionally to established narrative patterns when compared to Newcastle filmmaker Neil Mansfield’s self-funded effort. Shot in black-and-white over six days on HD Digital and made for $20,000 it was written by the director and Marin Mimica who plays the only character in the film, an eccentric who spends his days as a self-appointed streetsweeper and his nights camping out wherever he can find shelter.

Streetsweeper is in part an empathetic portrait of a “street crazy” and in part an ode to the alienating world of the city of Newcastle (any city), here beautifully evoked by sound designer Andrew Belletty and cinematographer Toby Ralph who also functioned as co-producer, Mimica, who reads his own poetry in the film, is remarkable in a role whose success depends on such complete immersion that we at no time feel that he is acting. But this sense of truth to the material, which means largely bypassing the comforting devices of narrative cinema, pervades the entire film and is what makes it both challenging to the viewer and strikingly effective in bringing home the reality of its troubled “hero”.

Streetsweeper has never has had distribution and has had only incidental showings by its makers (one of which earned them a Best Film Award at the 2008 Anchorage Film Festival). Certainly it will never win any mainstream popularity contests but if you have an interest in Australian film and want to see it at its least, keep your eye out for a screening.




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