A flashback to one of Australia's racist blind spots ducks and weaves before landing a killer punch in "September."

A flashback to one of Australia’s racist blind spots awkwardly ducks and weaves before landing a killer punch in the warmly expressed Oz meller “September.” Feature bow by Peter Carstairs shows signs of his transition from shorts, but is elevated by a sincere script that’s successful despite many technical obstacles. Pic unspooled in Toronto’s Discovery sidebar and should make room on its calendar for more fest slots. October release in Oz will garner modest arthouse B.O.

Set in 1968 rural Western Australia, just after indigenous Aussies were given citizenship rights in their own country, pic tells the story of the friendship between privileged white farm boy Ed (Xavier Samuel) and unschooled but smart Aboriginal teen Paddy (Clarence John Ryan). The boys set up a makeshift boxing ring and amiably spar, but the country town’s racial tensions raise the stakes and mutual antagonism. Perfs are flat, though Ryan exhibits a photogenic charm. Helming is often pointlessly decorative, and undisciplined handheld lensing is irritating. However, script skillfully draws together its disparate elements and is powerful enough to transcend the film’s considerable limitations. Other tech credits are solid.

September

Australia

Production

A Movie Network, Film Finance Corp. Australia presentation of a Tropfest Feature Program production. (International sales: Arclight, Los Angeles.) Produced by John Polson. Co-producers, Lynda House, Serena Paull. Executive producers, Mark Bamford, Tony Forrest, Gary Hamilton. Directed by Peter Carstairs. Screenplay, Ant Horn, Carstairs.

Crew

Camera (color), James O'Loughlin; editor, Martin O'Connor, Tim Wellburn; music, Roger Mason; production designer, Sam Hobbs; art director, Sophie Nash. Reviewed at Sony Theatrette, Sydney, Aug. 28, 2007. (Also in Toronto Film Festival -- Discovery.) Running time: 83 MIN.

With

Xavier Samuel, Clarence John Ryan, Kieran Darcy-Smith, Kelton Pell, Sibylla Budd, Lisa Flanagan, Paul Gleeson, Alice McConnell, Mia Wasikowska.

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