Australian Embassy
The Philippines

MR0809- All the best from Down Under in September

Critically-acclaimed film “Somersault” unreels the 4th Australian Film Festival


Filipinos are in for a reel treat this September as the Australian Embassy brings the fourth instalment of its highly-anticipated Film Festival in Manila.

Featuring some of the best films from Down Under, the 4th Australian Film Festival is expected to generate a lot of buzz in the Metro Manila and Cebu as it unveils fourteen critically-acclaimed feature and short films on 15-22 September 2006.

Ambassador Tony Hely will formally open the Festival at Greenbelt 3 Cinema 1 with the invitational screening of Cate Shortland’s Somersault, which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in 2004. 

Abbie Cornish in Somersault

Not another teen movie

Somersault is the feature debut of Australian director Cate Shortland, who made a mark in the Australian film industry with her award-winning shorts Strap on Olympia (1995), Pentuphouse (1998), Flowergirl (1999) and Joy (2000).

The film follows the story of Heidi (Abbie Cornish), aged 16, who drifts from one sexual encounter after another to make up for a lack of affection from her mother and her absent father. After one particularly violent argument, she leaves home and starts life anew in the Lake Jindabyne ski resort. Uneducated and inexperienced in the ways of the world, she is forced to struggle to survive—until the day she strikes up a rickety relationship with troubled farm hand Joe (Sam Worthington).

Shortland paints a sympathetic portrait of teen despair as she configures an affecting coming of age drama akin to European movie-making values, where textbook cause and effect plotting is not necessarily the crux of the story’s progression.

“The starting point for the film is a balance between the extraordinary landscape and the children in difficulty,” Cate Shortland says. “It’s full of anxious people who demand nothing more than to be loved. I really wanted the viewer to enter into these people’s intimacy.”

Somersault won a record-breaking thirteen awards at the prestigious Australian Film Institute, including Best Actress, Best Actor and Best Film. It also received recognition at the 2004 Film Critics Circle of Australia Awards, 2004 Australian Screen Director’s Awards and the 2004 Australian Cinematographers Society Awards.

Heath Ledger in
Two Hands 

Hollywood Down Under

Touted as Asia-Pacific’s Hollywood, Australia has successfully competed in the international film marketplace for decades. It has the distinction for producing the world’s first full length feature film, “The Story of the Kelly Gang” in 1906. It was first screened in Melbourne in December 1906 and was eventually released in England. For a while, Australia led the world in producing such films; it had made sixteen feature length films by the time countries began producing them in about 1911.

Today, Australia has won many accolades and has been known for its talented actors, directors and technicians. Nicole Kidman, Russel Crowe, Geoffrey Rush, Guy Pearce, Cate Blanchett, Naomi Watts and Tony Collette are among the few of the more prominent Australian actors who have carved out successful film careers in Hollywood.

The Australian film industry has also seen remarkable advances in technology, with the development of studios sophisticated enough to accommodate productions of the size and complexity of The Matrix (1999), Mission Impossible II (2000), Moulin Rouge (2001), and Attack of the Clones (2002), the most recent episode of George Lucas’s Star Wars series, which was filmed partly at Sydney’s Fox Studios.

Hugh Jackman (right) in
Erskineville Kings

All the Best from Australia

Aside from Somersault, this year’s Festival will also feature other multi-awarded, must-see films and shorts that will give audiences a chance to experience Australian film excellence while providing a glimpse of Australian popular culture, history and contemporary values.

Oscar-nominated actor Heath Ledger (Brokeback Mountain) stars in Two Hands, winner of five Australian Film Institute Awards in 1999. Meanwhile, fans of “Wolverine” should not miss Erskineville Kings where Hugh Jackman’s sterling performance earned him the Best Actor plum from Film Critics’ Circle of Australia in 1999. The Matrix series antagonist, “Mr. Smith” and The Lord of the Rings star Hugo Weaving top bill the film Peaches, nominated in the 2004 Montreal World Film Festival.

Oscar-nominated short film
The Mysterious Explorations
of Jasper Morello

Completing the roster of films include Dirty Deeds featuring The Sixth Sense star Toni Collette, Three Dollars, Radiance, Swimming Upstream, Bootmen and The Rage in Placid Lake. This year’s list of short films include the 2006 Oscar-nominated The Mysterious Explorations of Jasper Morello, Green Bush, Danya and Crooked Mick.

The films will be screened in three venues—Greenbelt 3 Cinema 1, University of the Philippines-Cine Adarna and Ayala Onstage at the Ayala Center Cebu. Admission fee is Php50.00 at Greenbelt 3.

The 4th Australian Film Festival is presented by the Australian Embassy and the Australian Film Commission in cooperation with the Ayala Malls Cinemas, Greenbelt, Ayala Center Cebu, the Arts Council of Cebu and the University of the Philippines Film Institute. Partners also include Cebu Pacific, Cebu Marriot Hotel, Executive International Movers, Cathay Pacific, Sentro, Hardy’s, Bega, Dairy Farmers, ETC, 2nd Avenue, NU 107, Wave 89.1 and Jam 88.3.

For the schedule of screenings, log on to the Australian Embassy website at or call 7578173, 7578135; Greenbelt Cinemas at 7297777; and the UP Film Institute at 9263640.