The Australian International Screen Forum returns this March as a completely virtual presentation with a program of screenings, keynote talks, interviews, panels, workshops and networking sessions. The Screen Forum connects the Australian and U.S. film communities through showcasing Australian film, TV and digital content. Early bird tickets are on sale today at australianscreenforum.org.
Ahead of the full program announcement, the Australian International Screen Forum is revealing today that a highlight of this year’s event is a screening of the National Film & Sound Archive of Australia’s restored print of Peter Weir’s landmark 1981 film, Gallipoli, celebrating the 40th anniversary of its original release.
Mel Gibson, who starred in Gallipoli early in his career, will appear in a Q&A conversation before the screening on Thursday March 25, looking back at the making of the film and discussing its impact and influence on his lengthy career as an actor, director and producer. New York-born Gibson was raised in Australia and launched his career there on stage and screen, with the iconic Australian films, Mad Max and Gallipoli, garnering him international acclaim. Throughout his vast range of acting roles over more than four decades, Gibson returned to battlefields in films such as The Patriot and We Were Soldiers, while he produced and directed Academy Award®-winning films Braveheart, which he also starred in, and Hacksaw Ridge. The internal conflict that comes with being a soldier at war at any time in history is a recurring theme that Gibson first tackled in Gallipoli.
The Australian International Screen Forum Gallipoli 40th Anniversary celebration will also include an interview with Gibson’s co-star, Mark Lee, and tributes from on- and off-screen talent from the iconic film.
Peter Weir has endorsed the Screen Forum’s tribute to his film, which was inspired by a personal journey he made a few years before it was produced. “The film is a memorial to the men who fought and died at Gallipoli in southern Turkey in 1915,” says Weir. “It was inspired by a visit to that lonely peninsula in 1976, the battlefield still largely preserved.”
Gallipoli is a poignant film about mateship and heroism, captured on celluloid both majestically and sensitively by award winning cinematographer Russell Boyd. Set in rural Western Australia, the WWI training camp in Cairo, and the battlefront of Gallipoli, and shot in South Australia and Egypt, the film examined the brutality and humanity of war, the heroic sacrifices made by the Australian and New Zealand Army Corps (ANZACs) and the lasting impact of the ANZAC story for future generations. David Williamson wrote the screenplay based on a story by Weir, editor was William Anderson and producers were Patricia Lovell and Robert Stigwood. Made by Associated R&R Films, a partnership between Stigwood and Rupert Murdoch, the original Australian release was through Roadshow Pictures, with Paramount releasing the film in North America and Cinema International Corporation for the rest of the world.
Gallipoli won eight Australian Film Institute Awards including Best Film and Best Director, and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 1982 Golden Globe Awards. With Weir’s involvement, the film was restored in 2014 to coincide with WWI Centenary events, making it one of the first films to be restored under the NFSA Restores program established to digitize, restore and preserve, at the highest archival standards, classic and cult Australian films.
“A great deal of care has gone into keeping my film Gallipoli looking as fresh as the day it first came out of the lab back in 1980,” says Weir. “I want to offer my thanks to all those involved in that quiet and painstaking work. That appreciation extends from film preservation to film-loving organizations like the Australian International Screen Forum who get the films out there. It’s no use having a handsomely restored film if no one gets to see it. As for the 40-year old memories? They don’t need restoration because they haven’t aged a day. An unforgettable cast and crew and a powerful subject that meant so much to all of us can never age.”
Chris Beale, Chairman of the Australian International Screen Forum, says: “We are proud to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this landmark Australian film as part of our first virtual edition of the Screen Forum in New York. Peter Weir’s Gallipoli launched the international career of Mel Gibson and set a standard for ground-breaking cinematography that has influenced directors ever since.”
The non-profit Australian International Screen Forum, presented in partnership with Screen Australia, debuted in 2018 and has been held at the prestigious Film at Lincoln Center in New York City annually. The 2020 Screen Forum was necessarily canceled at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic. This year’s event is being curated especially for the online format and the ease of attendance means it is also open to registrants elsewhere around the U.S. and Australia.
The full Screen Forum program, including Opening and Closing Night screenings, industry speakers and panels will be announced later this month. In the lead up to the six-day Screen Forum event, with support from Screen Australia, 11 Australian screen creatives who were set to physically attend the 2020 Forum under the Talent USA programme will participate virtually in two weeks of exclusive and bespoke professional development and networking sessions. These filmmakers will meet and hear advice from key New York-based screen decision makers, with the goal to help establish and foster creative and business relationships for their careers and Australian projects. These upcoming sessions will complement a series the group participated in partnership with Australians in Film last year, where they met and heard from LA based industry.
To create even more global opportunities, the Australian International Screen Forum is proud to announce a collaborative partnership with regional screen organisation Screenworks, which will create a weeklong borderless festival that celebrates and informs the Australian screen industry. With Screenworks’ Regional to Global Screen Forum taking place March 25-27, this new alliance means attendees of both forums gain reciprocal access to each event, creating a feast of bilateral conferences, screenings, meet-ups, panels sessions and workshops from New York to regional NSW’s Lennox Head.