With the evolution over the past century of Australia’s screen culture, the industry through both its success and failures has fostered “An Australian film industry, [which] enables Australia to talk to itself, recognize itself and engage the attention of the world in doing so” (Dermody & Jacka, 1987, p 17). Three impactful films within Australian screen culture have been Muriel’s Wedding (House, Moorhouse & Hogan, 1994), Bra Boys (Abberton & DeSouza, 2007) and Samson and Delilah (Shelper & Thornton, 2009), which through their story, funding, release strategies and audience have become influential films for defining “Australian-ness” within Australian screen culture.
Muriel’s Wedding (House, Moorhouse & Hogan, 1994)
Described as having the “brash and brassy look of Strictly Ballroom with the emotional complexity of Jane Campion’s work.” (Wignall, 1994), Muriel’s Wedding (1994), written and directed by PJ Hogan, tells the story of small town girl Muriel Heslop’s search for self esteem within her narrow Australian suburban existence.
Inspired by Hogan’s own life growing up with a cruel father, the script was written in his mid twenties when he was "Much like Muriel, except not living at home.” (Wilson, 2014). Sending the script to the Australian Film Commission in the late 80s asking for $5000 in script development funding, Hogan was met with the response “this should never be made…it is terrible” (Lowenstein, 2000). Despite this rejection Hogan continued development.
Following changes to the 10BA tax incentive scheme in the late 80s, private funding for films produced in Australia was drying up and direct government support once again became the dominant source of feature film funding. Following a r...
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...ustralian stories through image and sound, infused with cultural nuance, has a powerful impact on how Australians see themselves, how they see others and how the world sees Australia. Muriel’s Wedding (House, Moorhouse & Hogan, 1994) introduced the loud boldness of Australian 90’s culture to the world and paved the way for future film success overseas. Bra Boys (Abberton & DeSouza, 2007) presents a view of a diverse Australia at a time when multiculturalism—which is valued in contemporary Australia—was being attacked. Finally, Samson and Delilah (Shelper & Thornton, 2009) rightfully widened this multicultural dialogue as the first commercially successful and truly Indigenous story. These films, from their development to their success, showcase the impact that Australian screen culture has on defining national identity locally and how Australia is perceived globally.
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