The Tree (2010)

Australian / French production directed by Julie Bertuccelli from the book Our Father Who Art in the Tree by Judy Pascoe.

The Tree is a family tale about loss, rebirth and the power of imagination. (from DVD)

An enormous and beautiful tree spreads widely in all directions beside an elegant country house. Both are well past their prime. These two take on roles of their own in this fine film about a family coping with the death of a parent. Dawn and her four kids each carry on in their own ways, and for some the tree takes on a special significance. So what to do when the inevitable happens and the tree, and other forces of nature, threaten?

Judy Pascoe’s book surprises after the film as it is told from the point of view of eight year old Simone, who also has a pivotal role in the film. At 166 pages it looks like a good candidate for a belonging text as well.

During the writing of Our Father Who Art in the Tree I drew heavily on the power of the Australia landscape to infuse the story with place. I guess the point I was trying to make was that even in the blandest Australian suburb the power of the landscape is inescapable. Judy Pascoe.

Another interesting place to go from The Tree is to the theme song, To Build a Home, performed by The Cinematic Orchestra, featuring Patrick Watson. (Lyrics)

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33 Postcards

Pauline Chan’s deceptively sweet drama about a young Chinese orphan’s search for belonging and acceptance is underscored by gritty realism and a precise eye for the daily rhythms of Sydney life. Sydney Film Festival website

Catch this film at selected cinemas from 3rd November 2011, or watch for it on DVD.

RN’s Movie Time reviewed 33 Postcards and also interviewed the director, Pauline Chan, who gives an insight into the film and talks about the differences between Chinese and Australian film industry practices.

Tom White

Feature film, 2004, directed by Alkinos Tsilimodos

We drop into Tom’s life just as the final wave that will tip him out of suburbia and into vagrancy begins to break. His crisis has been cooking for weeks – perhaps years – before he first appears on screen. The fracturing of his world is visually represented in a shot early on in the film in which we see Tom from inside a birdhouse. The transparent walls of the birdhouse are angled to create a triple image of Tom as he checks the feed and water, and begins to talk to himself, vocalising an internal dialogue of uncertainty.  Ben Goldsmith, ‘Interogating Identity:Tom White’, senses of cinema, December, 2004

Tom encounters an ensemble of characters on the streets, finding friendship and loneliness in equal measure. Memories of what he has lost remain painful, but he seems unable to find himself.

The musical score is by Paul Kelly. The theme song, Meet Me In The Middle Of The Air, is a reworking of Psalm 23 – The Lord is My Shepherd:

I will lay you down
In pastures green and fair
Every soul shall be restored
I will meet them in the middle of the air
Come and meet me in the middle of the air

This video captures a beautiful a capella version by Tripod and Eddie Perfect from the ABC program Sideshow.

Beneath Clouds

Feature film, written and directed by Ivan Sen in 2002.

…its beautiful pictures tell a thousand words about what it is to be young, dispossessed and facing a predetermined destiny in Australia. triple j film reviews

Lena and Vaughn are teenagers each with reasons to be on the road. Lena is heading to Sydney where she believes her Irish father might be. Vaughn has escaped from a prison farm on hearing that his mother is dying. Their trip together is based on convenience and a gradual if unspoken development of an affinity. Each is driven towards to a parent. Can Lena’s father possibly live up to her hopes, even if she can find him? Vaughn, on the other hand, starts out already believing his mother has left him to fate, yet he yearns to see her a final time.

Both are Aboriginal, although fair Lena does not correct Vaughn’s assumption that she is white. This film is full of considerations like this to exercise the viewer’s mind. Beautiful lansdcapes are contrasted with violent incidents, and images of trees and sunflowers are interspersed with those of dead animals. Both characters are strongly portrayed, Vaughn’s anger frightening at times, whilst Lena is strong and calm. She takes life full on but displays in her expression a knowledge which makes her wary. The two move from reluctant companionship to a more subtle understanding. 

Australian Screen has three clips from Beneath Clouds.

ABC Radio National’s Julie Rigg reviewed the film.

One Night the Moon

one-night-the-moon-original-soundtrackThis beautiful one hour feature film is a musical drama about a child who goes missing. It is Australian and has a rural 1930s setting, based on a true incident of that era. The crux of the story is that the child’s father will not allow any Aboriginal people on his land, including the experienced black tracker who the police have brought along as a matter of course.

It is not only the feature itself, starring Paul Kelly, Kelton Pell, Kaarin Fairfax and Ruby Hunter, which could be used as a supplementary text, but the soundtrack lyrics. In fact, the film begins with a scene which could be treated as a separate video clip, with Paul Kelly performing a song which forshadows the tragedy to come in the story.

Early on in the film the piece “This is My Land. This land is Me” is performed by the two male protagonists as they move in opposite directions on the land.

Filmed in the Flinder’s Ranges, One Night the Moon uses several cinematic techniques which accentuate the power of the landscape.

Watch for religious imagery in this film, including a Sunday church scene, then the farmer killing a lamb.

The writers are John Romeril and Rachel Perkins. Perkins is also the director of the film.

For more information see Senses of Cinema “This Land is Mine/ This Land is Me” : Reconciling Harmonies in
One Night the Moon
by Fiona Probyn and Catherine Simpson (updated 26/05/2010). You can also download clips from Australian Screen.