The Perpetual French Discovery of Australian Cinema
8. Kitsch Stylisation 215
215 8. Kitsch Stylisation The French Critical Reception of Australian Cinema 1990-1994 The emergence of Jane Campion as a master filmmaker went some way towards redressing the imbalance created by the sys- tematic departure of Australia’s internationally recognised di- rectors for Hollywood. The first half of the 1990s would see a reduction in the overall number of Australian films produced, compared with the second half of the 1980s.1 The departure of the ‘old school’ of the Australian filmmak- ing of the revival period – and with it the focus on telling stories of epic national, and particularly historical, significance – ush- ered in a period of new vitality in Australian filmmaking. Pro- duction was largely left in the hands of a proliferation of tal- ented young first-time directors, who shared a common appreciation for the aesthetic of kitsch stylisation that character- ised the popular image of Australian filmmaking in the 1990s. * * * In his 1988 film Ghosts of the Civil Dead, released in France on 2 May 1990, John Hillcoat offers a disturbingly bleak vision of life and death in a modern, privately run, high-security and high- tech prison, based on privatised models operating in Australia and the USA at the time of the film’s production. The extreme 1 The average number of films produced in Australia per year fell from 33.4 during 1985-1989 to 25.2 during 1990-1994. Source: Screen Australia, ‘Number and proportion of Australian and co-production feature films produced 1980/81–2006/07 released in cinemas in Australia, the UK and the US...
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