11 June 1993

More snapshots of the rising generation

WHILE we're still dining out on our trans-Tasman triumph at Cannes, it's worth remembering Jane Campion found her first mainstream audience at the Short Film Awards which preface the Sydney Film Festival each year.
Campion's A Girl's Own Story, winner of the 1984 Rouben Mamoulian award, had the State buzzing that year with talk that a stunning new talent had arrived. What wasn't new was the talk itself - the awards always generate much debate, and are viewed in the industry as a snapshot of the coming generation
The Dendy Awards, as they are now known, are on again at the State Theatre tomorrow, beginning at 9 am, and the screenings are open to the public.
Taking the name of the current sponsor, the awards have traditionally occupied the festival's opening day since their inception in 1970. A cigarette manufacturer was sponsor until 1978, when the Greater Union Organisation took over. Sydney's progressive arthouse cinema, the Dendy has been sponsor since 1988.
This year, from more than 100 entries, 20 films have been chosen for screening and will vie for $2,500 in prizes in five categories.
Strictly speaking, the Dendy sponsors awards in just three of these: fiction, documentary and general.
The two other awards are the Yoram Gross Animation Award, first presented in 1987, and the Ethnic Affairs Commission Award, instituted last year to encourage films which reflect Australia's cultural and linguistic diversity.
Another $2,500 prize, The Rouben Mamoulian Award, is chosen from all the finalists by a panel of judges made up of overseas guests at the festival. This year the Taiwanese director of Wedding Banquet, Ang Lee, heads the panel
There are four entries in the fiction category (which begins screening at 10.30 am) - Flowers by Request, directed by Susan Wallace, Just Desserts, directed by Monica Pellizari, Mick Connolly's Opportunity Knocks and Anne Pratten's Terra Nullius - with Pellizari tipped to win.
Among the entries in the documentary category is Jan Aldenhoven's and Glen Curruthers's Kangaroos - Faces in the Mob, which was shown earlier in the year on ABC TV. The film follows the progress over two years of a mob of eastern grey kangaroos.
Other entries include Noriko Sekiguchi's When Mrs Hegarty Comes to Town, an examination of cross-cultural exchange between Japan and Australia, and Steve Thomas's Black Man's Houses, which seeks to redress the myth that Tasmania's Aborigines are extinct.
In the general category, for films which don't quite fit into any other category, Ross Gibson's Wild is favoured to win. Wild is a melange of docu-drama, cinemaverite, experimental cinema and academic film essay.
In the Ethnic Affairs Commission Award, Christina Andreef's loosely autobiographical Excursion to the Bridge of Friendship is among the entries. It was also selected for Cannes this year.
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Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 10-6-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 25
Section: News and Features
Length: 604
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First published in The Sydney Morning Herald

4 June 1993

Americans now the largest collectors of aboriginal art

INSIDE SYDNEY: Gallery director Helen Hansen has returned from this year's prestigious Chicago International Art Exposition reporting a surge of interest in Aboriginal art in North America.
"Aboriginal art is starting to break seriously into the United States, which is why we've made two trips there in the past six months," the co-director of Paddington's Hogarth Galleries told Inside Sydney yesterday.
Hansen returned on Tuesday from Chicago, where Hogarth became the first gallery ever invited to show Australian Aboriginal art.
"There's enormous interest," Hansen said. "They were fascinated by the connection between the land and the sand and dot paintings. On the other hand, a high percentage of people knew something about Aboriginal art because they had seen the Dreamings Exhibition at the Smart Museum in Chicago in 1989."
Hogarth's showing in Chicago was boosted by the enormous interest generated by Aratjara: Art of the First Australians, a major survey of Australian Aboriginal art showing in Dusseldorf, Germany, until July.
Hansen noted: "By our reckoning, the largest collectors of Aboriginal art in the world are in America."
She added that works of Emily Kame Kngwarreye - paintings of the desert country for which she's responsible as a tribal elder - attracted great interest.
"People were just bowled over by the energy of this woman," Hansen said.
"They'd ask if she'd seen the work of certain contemporary European artists and we'd say not only has she not seen it, she's an 82-year-old Aboriginal woman who lives in the Australian desert and speaks very little English. They'd be amazed at the artistic overlaps and similarities."
John Mawandjul's bark paintings were also a hit with the Americans, with one major work selling for $6,000.
Hansen said the surge in international interest in Aboriginal art was not merely a romantic return to the West's obsession with exotic, so-called"primitive" art.
"The American market has gone beyond that," she said. "It's more sophisticated, and Australian Aboriginal art these days is part of mainstream contemporary art. That's the way we show it - certainly not as primitive art -and people judge it on its own merit. And on that basis, it does extremely well."
Caption: Illus: Helan Hansen, co-director of the Hogarth Galleries in Paddington... found enormous interest in Aboriginal art in the United States. Picture by STEVE CHRISTO
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Publication: Sydney Morning Herald
Publication date: 3-6-1993
Edition: Late
Page no: 2
Section: News and Features
Length: 504
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First published in The Sydney Morning Herald