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Who’s battling here? Some thoughts on the Barbican’s Australian Film Festival

Australian expats love it when the annual Aussie Film Festival at the Barbican rolls around. It’s a chance to escape home for an hour or two, eat Cherry Ripes and Burger Rings and lurk in the foyer, sneaking glances at the Aussie celebs that sometimes turn up. Plus you almost always bump into someone you know.

This year I only saw two films, Bran Nue Dae and Beautiful Kate. And I was enchanted and disappointed in equal measures. Let’s start with Bran Nue Dae. It’s a musical and tells the story of a young Aboriginal man who leaves boarding school to travel back to his hometown of Broome. It addresses racism, homelessness, displacement, alcohol abuse and incarceration… and it’s funny. Really, laugh-out-loud funny. Joyful music, over-the-top acting… you leave feeling optimistic about life.

Here’s a trailer. Hopefully it will at least get a DVD release here so you can see it for yourself. It’s perfect Friday-night-at-the-end-of-a-long-week viewing.

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Time for a bit of Aussie sunshine

For homesick Aussies out there, or anyone just wanting a dose of sunshine as winter trudges its way out the door, don’t miss the annual Australian Film Festival at the Barbican. This year they’ve put on a programme with a few oldies such as My Brilliant Career and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, along with the new releases – now is the chance to preview films that won’t be on general release in the UK until much later. It’s also a good chance to stock up on Cherry Ripes and Burger Rings, and take in the charged atmosphere in the foyer as people bump into neighbours, exes and old flatmates, with varying degrees of enthusiasm. 

Tropfest is also on – a short film festival that is screened around Australia for free – and it’s free at the Barbican too, although you need to book quickly. I’m also looking forward to Rhian Skirving’s documentary Rock n Roll Nerd about her friend Tim Minchin, a comedian and musician who has performed widely in the UK; he’s back over here in September and October 2009. Essential viewing for any aspiring stand-ups out there. 

Book tickets and find out more at http://www.barbican.org.uk/australianfilm/whats-on

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