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Into The Shadows

Australia 2009
Directed by
Andrew Scarano
88 minutes
Rated PG

Reviewed by
Bernard Hemingway
3.5 stars

Into The Shadows

 Synopsis: A documentary looking at the difficulties of feature film making in Australia.

2009 has been a bumper year for Australian film at the box office, a turn of events which is a bit of a pity for Andrew Scarano’s rather discomforting assessment of our film industry. Not that Mr Scarano would mind in the slightest for he is a passionate supporter of Australian film and no doubt will be very pleased to see what is shaping up to be the largest percentage share for many years of ticket sales for domestic fare.

Originally conceived in 2006 as a simple documenting of the closing of Canberra’s Electric Shadows, an independent cinema for which his grandfather was the projectionist for 27 years, it grew over the next 3 years into a wide-ranging look at the ups and downs of Australian cinema as it, like national cinemas around the world, struggles to survive the rapacious appetite of the Hollywood behemoth and independent exhibitors closed their doors as the multiplexes drained off their customers. The film is not, however so much a survey of Australian film, although that history is sketched out, as a polemic that unpacks some of the problems besetting today’s “industry”. Despite the commercial and critical success of Australian films this year and the fact that Into The Shadows largely predates the 2008 revamping of the Federal film funding programme, much of it remains both valid and usefully provocative in addressing the core issue of the notorious “disconnect” between Australian filmmakers and  Australian audiences.

Scarano canvasses an impressive array of talking heads, both well-known and less-well-known, who are or were variously involved in the production–distribution-exhibition chain and uses their insights to stake out the issues. For anyone interested in the state and workings of Australian film it is rewarding viewing. But perhaps best of all, its existence testifies to the promising rise amongst the next generation of film-makers and film-goers of interest in home-grown product.

To read Bernard Hemingway's 2008 comments on the state of Australian film please click here.




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