Eight of the 19 movies in contention for the top feature film honour have been made by female directors, more than in any other year, and pictures on the shortlist include Jane Campion's Bright Star, Rachel Perkins' Aboriginal musical Bran Nue Dae, and Daina Reid's romantic comedy, I Love You Too.
Other leading nominees include Peter Spierig's vampire movie Daybreakers, and father-and-son tale The Boys Are Back, directed by Scott Hicks.
AFI Chief Executive Damian Trewhella insists Kathryn Bigelow's historic Best Director win at the 2010 Oscars has paved the way for strong female representation in the film industry.
He says, "Rachel Perkins has got the hit of the year on her hands thus far with Bran Nue Dae, and Jane Campion has got a lot of recognition globally for Bright Star. In an international industry where women are still significantly under-represented, Australia is heading in the right direction."
AFI-nominated directed Perkins adds, "We've had an industry that's really worked to find a place for women. We're far more advanced than the industry in the States in that regard. I think the arts is pretty progressive in that way."
The 2010 AFI awards will be handed out in Melbourne, Australia in December (10).
Source: Omnilab Media, The Jim Henson Company
In a joint announcement by Omnilab Media's Christopher Mapp and The Jim Henson Company's Lisa Henson, Australian based Omnilab Media is teaming up with The Jim Henson Company to bring the fantasy sequel Power of the Dark Crystal to the big screen in stereoscopic 3D.
Peter Spierig and Michael Spierig, writers and directors of Undead and most recently, Daybreakers, have come aboard to direct the screenplay written by Australian Craig Pearce (Moulin Rouge!, Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet) based on an original script by Annette Duffy and David Odell. The legendary fantasy artist Brian Froud will reprise his role as conceptual designer of the film, which will use a mix of live action and traditional puppetry combined with visual and special effects produced entirely in Australia. Omnilab-affiliated Iloura (Where the Wild Things Are, Don't Be Afraid of the Dark) has already begun work on the film's complex CGI elements. With this team in place, next steps will be to secure worldwide distribution.
Michael Spierig said, "We feel a tremendous amount of responsibility in telling this story with the same meticulous care that Jim Henson and Frank Oz gave the 1982 original." Added Peter Spierig, "This is a chance to take the world of puppetry into the modern age by using modern techniques (like motion capture CGI) and the tried and true methods (like puppetry and animatronics) to create a one hundred percent real world that is unique to The Dark Crystal."
Set hundreds of years after the events of the first movie when the world has once again fallen into darkness, Power of the Dark Crystal follows the adventures of a mysterious girl made of fire who, together with a Gelfling outcast, steals a shard of the legendary Crystal in an attempt to reignite the dying sun that exists at the center of the planet.
Hollywood’s burgeoning library of vampire flicks gets a bloody new addition this week with Daybreakers a grisly horror-thriller that adds a dystopian twist to the increasingly well-worn bloodsucker mythos. If Twilight is the Romeo and Juliet of the vampire genre Daybreakers hopes to be its Children of Men. But hope as they say is not a plan. Nor is it a particularly effective filmmaking technique.
Set 10 years in the future Daybreakers envisions a world in which a nasty plague has turned all but a tiny fraction of the planet’s population into vampires. But instead of descending into the kind of violent anarchy one might expect after such a catastrophic event folks have adjusted surprisingly well retrofitting their lives to accommodate their vampiric needs. (Potentially fatal sunlight for example is avoided with an elaborate system of underground walkways and computerized sunrise alerts.)
But all is not well in the future vampire world. The supply of uninfected human blood upon which the civilization depends to survive is dwindling rapidly and attempts to synthesize it led by Ethan Hawke’s reluctant biotech researcher Edward Dalton have thus far proved disastrously ineffective. (A side effect of the latest blood substitute for example is an exploding head. Ouch!)
Dressed in a drab black suit and hat his alabaster vampire complexion rendered even more pale by his moral objection to drinking human blood (he subsists instead on vastly inferior pig blood) Hawke’s character looks something like a Hasidic heroin addict (see below). Appalled by his company’s lucrative side business of imprisoning uninfected humans in vast blood farms (akin to the warehouses of “batteries” of The Matrix) he revolts against his smoothly sinister boss (Sam Neill) and joins a rag-tag resistance group led by a homespun mercenary (Willem Dafoe) who claims to have discovered the cure to vampirism.
Aside from leads Hawke Dafoe and Neill Daybreakers' primarily Australian cast (the film was shot entirely in Australia) stages a veritable tour-de-force of bad B-movie acting which combined with the film’s occasional subpar production values gives it the overall feel of a low-budget late-night “skinemax” flick. In lieu of gratuitous nudity however directors Michael and Peter Spierig substitute copious gore piling on the bodyparts until the film devolves into a bloody incoherent mess.