Australian Cinema's Middle East
The first season in this series (presented in late 2011) reached back to the beginnings of this Australian cinema engagement with the Middle East, to Frank Hurley’s images of the region shot during the First and Second World Wars and to the echoes of 19th century ‘Ghan’ traders in mid-20th century Australian cinema.
This new season explores the remarkably central role Middle Eastern politics, culture, society and immigration have played in Australian cinema since 2001. That the events of 9/11 loom over our local cinema is unsurprising. However, much of the best local documentary filmmaking of the past decade has been pre-occupied with the stories which connect Australia to the Middle East and Asian Islamic world: whether looking at the presence of Australian troops in Iraq and Afghanistan; the arrival and detention of refugees from the region; the increasingly visible presence of Islamic religious belief and social custom; or episodes of communal tension and resentment in our big cities. These issues and themes have generated some of the best films from veteran documentarians such as Tom Zubrycki, George Gittoes, and Dennis O’Rourke. It’s also drawn out new talent, often filmmakers themselves from an Arab-immigrant background, as well as new stories informing recent dramatic filmmaking for our features, shorts and TV drama.
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