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Australian Films Shine Bright at 2010 Palm Springs International Film Festival
G'Day USA: A Showcase of New Australian Cinema
By Gregg Schwenk

Palm Springs, CA   On January 9, the Festival will host Australian Film Day, entitled G'Day USA: A Showcase of New Australian Cinema.  This program will premiere new films from Australia organized in partnership with G'Day USA, the Australian Consulate General in Los Angeles and Tourism Australia.  This will serve as the kick-off event to the G'Day USA Australia Week, which offers festivities and business events in L.A., San Diego, San Francisco and New York as part of a cross-country promotion of all things Australia. With Down-Under talent Bryan Brown, Robert Connolly, Anthony LaPaglia, Ana Kokkinos, Ted Kotcheff, Frances O'Connor, Warwick Thornton, Rachel Ward and Sara Watt expected to attend, Australia Film Day will kick off with the Gala screening of My Year Without Sex

Festival Director Darryl Macdonald said, "The Australian production boom was brought on by tax incentives, but it is the new talent behind the work that will sustain it.  In addition to sterling work from emerging filmmakers, our Australian films showcase spotlights the work of three exciting new directors: Glendyn Ivin's U.S. Premier Last Ride features a dazzling performance by Hugo Weaving; actress Rachel Ward makes an impressive directorial debut with Beautiful Kate; and Warwick Thornton's Camera D'Or winner Samson and Delilah represents Australia in the Oscar race."

The films selected in the G'Day USA program include:

The Balibo Conspiracy - In 1975, five young Australian TV journalists covering the invasion of East Timor by the Indonesian army were murdered at the border village of Balibo.  Their story, denied and covered up for over 30 years, is grippingly recreated in this tense and moving film from Robert Connolly.  Director:Robert Connolly.  Cast:  Anthony LaPaglia, Oscar Isaac and Damon Gameau.  U.S. premiere.
Beautiful Kate - Actress Rachel Ward makes a stunningly assured feature writing and directing debut with this emotional drama about a self-hating writer Ned (Ben Mendelsohn) who returns to his childhood home in the Australian outback in search of answers about his family's dysfunctional past.  Director:  Rachel Ward.  Cast: Bryan Brown, Rachel Griffiths and Ben Mendelsohn.
Blessed - Focusing on the often-fraught bond between mothers and their children, Blessed unfolds in a blue-collar suburb of Melbourne over the course of 24 hours.  The intersecting stories are divided into two parts, the first told from the viewpoint of the troubled offspring and the second through the weary eyes of their struggling moms.  Director:  Ana Kokkinos.  Cast:  Frances O'Connor, Miranda Otto and Deborra-Lee Furness.  U.S. premiere.
In My Father's Country - In one of the most remote corners of indigenous Australia, a boy will soon become a man.  Following preparations for the ritual, the film shows the life lessons he receives from his father and grandfather.  Set against the political backdrop of government pressure to close "uneconomic outstations," it also shows modernity almost imperceptibly penetrating their community.   Director:  Tom Murray.  North America premiere.
Last Ride - When his ex-con father (Hugo Weaving) bundles him into the car in the middle of the night, 10-year-old Chook knows that something is wrong.  As the two drive into the desert towards an unknown future, their troubled relationship and the need to survive sees them battling the elements and each other.  Director:  Glendyn Ivin.  Cast: Hugo Weaving, Tom Russell and Anita Hegh.  U.S. Premiere.
Lucky Country - A gripping thriller set in 1902, in the wild Australian outback, where a desperate family on the brink of ruin find themselves turning on each other after three strangers arrive at their farm with rumors of gold.  Director:  Kriv Stender.  Cast Aden Young, Toby Wallace and Pip Miller.  U.S. premiere.
My Year Without Sex - A middle-class Melbourne mom recovering from a near-fatal illness wrestles with the titular problem and a whole lot more in this endearing comic drama from the writer/director of the prize-winning Look Both Ways (PSIFF 2006).  Director: Sarah Watt.  Cast:  Sacha Horler, Matt Day and Portia Bradley.  U.S. Premiere.
Samson & Delilah - One of the year's most cinematically satisfying films, this unconventional love story of two aboriginal teens from a dusty settlement in the Central Australian Desert is full of fascinating ethnographic detail, gentle humor and breathtaking cinematography. Winner of the Camera D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival and many other prizes.  Director: Warwick Thornton.  Cast:  Rowan McNamara, Marissa Gibson and Scott Thornton.
Wake in Fright - A true milestone in Australian film history, this dread-filled drama is set in a rough outback mining town where a marooned teacher finds himself at odds with the xenophobic locals. Tensions quickly escalate until the inevitable explosion comes to pass.  Director:  Ted Kotcheff.  Cast:  Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond and Chips Rafferty.
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About the Palm Springs International Film Festival
Celebrating its 21st anniversary, the Palm Springs International Film Festival was founded in 1990 by then-Mayor Sonny Bono.  The Festival presents a majority of the films submitted for consideration in the Best Foreign Language category for the Academy Awards, as well as a large number of American independent and international features and documentaries marking their world, North American or U.S. debuts.  Screenings are held on 15 screens throughout Palm Springs.

The Festival's 21st Annual Awards Gala was presented by Cartier and sponsored by Entertainment Tonight. 
Renewing sponsors of this year's Festival are Title Sponsor The City of Palm Springs and Presenting Sponsors The Desert Sun, the City of Indian Wells, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians, Spencer's Restaurant and KPSP Local 2. Major Sponsors include Bank of America, Ketel One, Johnnie Walker and Don Julio, Regal Entertainment Group, Wells Fargo, Verizon, Integrated Wealth Management, Guthy-Renker, Wessman Development, Ocean Properties Development, Chihuly Art Glass and Chop House Edit.


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Gregg Schwenk is a writer, educator, and entrepreneur. He reports on a number of various subjects including: film, art, technology and politics. Mr. Schwenk is an adjunct professor at CSUF's Center for Entertainment and Tourism located in Orange County, California. He is also a consultant and advisor to several entertainment and technology firms. In 2005, Mr. Schwenk was appointed by the US Secretary of Commerce, to the District Export Council. He has a BA from the University of California, Berkeley and completed the Advanced Management Program at USC.

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