Grey Bull, a short film about the struggles of newly settled refugees

Thursday, 25 August, 2016

For refugees seeking safe haven in another country, and a chance to start over with their lives, finding a new home is sometimes only the beginning of the process. Coming to grips with a new environment, and culture, presents all manner of difficulties and challenges.

Some of these struggles are brought to the fore in Grey Bull, a short film by Eddy Bell, about Martin, a refugee from South Sudan, as he adjusts to life in a small town in South Australia.

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The top one hundred films of the twenty-first century

Wednesday, 24 August, 2016

David Lynch’s 2001 feature Mulholland Drive, has taken out the number one spot in a poll of film critics, conducted by the BBC, of films made in the twenty-first century. In the Mood for Love, made a year earlier by Kar-Wai Wong, came in second place. I can’t argue with that.

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For the love of the old Australian milk bar

Wednesday, 27 July, 2016

The milk bar of old, is fast fading from the suburbs. Australian artist, designer, and illustrator Eamon Donnelly, is intent on preserving their memory, and the place they held, and still hold, in Australia.

The Australian Milk Bar was quietly fading away without anyone noticing, an Australian icon was disappearing like an ice cream melting in the hot summers sun. I had still visited Milk Bars over the years but hadn’t really noticed a change until that day. I had always imagined Dave’s would still be there.

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Avatar, and the mystery of the missing cultural footprint

Friday, 15 January, 2016

Avatar, directed by James Cameron, took over US$2.7 billion at the box office, upon its release in 2009. By way of comparison, The Force Awakens, the latest Star Wars film, has taken about US$1.7 billion to date. Here’s a puzzle though, if Avatar was so popular, why is it devoid of any sort of cultural footprint?

The total absence of a cultural footprint for Avatar is fascinating… Hey. Right now. Try to quote Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all time. Quote ANY line. Or name 2 characters. No cheating.

How often, for instance, do you notice certain of these lines from Star Wars cropping up? Mind you, the Star Wars story is spread across seven films, not counting animations and holiday specials, over almost four decades, so that has to be a help.

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Nomads of Mongolia, a short film by Brandon Li

Thursday, 14 January, 2016

Brandon Li, filmmaker, and self described global nomad, spent a few weeks in western Mongolia, filming the day to day, and still very much traditional, lives of the region’s nomadic Kazakh people.

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The Territories, curating all things Australian, past and present

Friday, 11 September, 2015

Image via The Territories

If the Australian Geographic and the Museum of Old and New Art, or MONA, were ever to marry, would the union be a match made in heaven? You know what they say, after all, opposites attract. But take a closer look at this would-be couple, and similarities quickly become apparent. For one, both are Australian institutions, not that nationality matters of course.

What is more salient perhaps though, is that both are curators, and highly regarded curators in their respective fields, at that. On one hand there is Australian Geographic, the wildlife and adventure journal first published in 1986, by Australian entrepreneur Dick Smith, that compiles stories of the Australian milieu, and the exploits of its people.

Image via The Territories

On the other, is MONA, based in Hobart, Tasmania, an art museum that was originally founded in 2001, when it was known as the Moorilla Museum of Antiquities, by professional gambler and art collector David Walsh. Today it houses some four hundred artworks, drawn from Walsh’s private collection, and includes works by Sidney Nolan, and Wim Delvoye.

So what if the two organisations were ever to procreate, and bring forth off-spring? What might we expect from such a lineage? Blue Mountains based commercial artist, researcher, and writer, Heath Killen is pretty sure he knows, and has no reservations in saying as much, such a lovechild would be his recently launched publication, The Territories.

Image via The Territories

How then to best describe this child, a multi-platform publication and curatorial project, coming forth from a gene pool so rich and diverse? In a word, precocious, not to mention one as opened minded as they are broad minded, a prerequisite when it comes to the far from straightforward matter of defining, and understanding, Australia’s history and identity.

It’s an ambitious project, with a wide scope, that takes in diverse topics ranging from local flora, fauna, and the environment, to art, film, culture, and history, along with comment on contemporary and historical subjects. To my mind The Territories is more of a curational companion to its would-be parents, but I’m sure “lovechild” is equally as apt.

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Remembering the world’s remaining indigenous and native tribes

Friday, 15 November, 2013

British photographer Jimmy Nelson has journeyed through Africa, Asia, South America, New Zealand, and Siberia, collecting images of indigenous and native peoples and tribes, who are often isolated from the rest of the world, and living as their ancestors have for hundreds, sometimes, thousands of years.

Nelson’s efforts are an attempt to document these people, and their ways of life, before the ever encroaching contemporary world eventually sees them abandon their traditional lifestyles.

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Shoe tossing, a global phenomenon of nebulous significance

Wednesday, 30 October, 2013

The Mystery of Flying Kicks is a short documentary made by Australian filmmaker and writer Matthew Bate exploring the widespread phenomenon of shoe tossing, or shoe flinging, or “shoefiti”, or the tying of two pairs of sneakers together, with their laces, and throwing them up at telephone, or power, cables so they dangle there.

People seem to have all sorts of ideas as to what the sight of sneakers hanging from telephone lines means, and as it turns out, pretty much anything seems to go, depending on where you are.

One prevailing thought is they mark out the territory of dealers of certain illicit substances, or gangs, and maybe in some places they do, but in Sydney, for instance, their presence appears to have an all together different significance.

What about where you are?

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The hitchhiker’s guide to etiquette in many places

Thursday, 19 September, 2013

Another, this time illustrated, etiquette guide for New York City… I’m not sure why these need to be city specific though, surely this how anyone should behave where ever they are?

Mind you, not everything featured is advice on how to conduct yourself, how are short-cuts from one building to another, or tips for distinguishing the Chrysler Building from the Empire State Building, something to do with etiquette?

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Not only do we shape our cities, they also shape us

Monday, 27 May, 2013

When more than half of the Earth’s population live in cities, that, by the way, occupy just three percent of the world’s land surface, changes, be they genetic or cultural, are bound to take place:

It is having an effect not just culturally, but biologically: urban melting pots are genetically altering humans. The spread of genetic diversity can be traced back to the invention of the bicycle, according to geneticist Steve Jones, which encouraged the intermarriage of people between villages and towns. But the urbanisation occurring now is generating unprecedented mixing. As a result, humans are now more genetically similar than at any time in the last 100,000 years, Jones says.

The genetic and cultural melange does a lot to erode the barriers between races, as well as leading to novel works of art, science and music that draw on many perspectives. And the tight concentration of people in a city also leads to other tolerances and practices, many of which are less common in other human habitats (like the village) or in other species. For example, people in a metropolis are generally freer to practice different religions or none, to be openly gay, for women to work and to voluntarily limit their family size despite – or indeed because of – access to greater resources.

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