Melbourne fest remembers schlock

Ozloitation films highlighted at Aussie event

SYDNEY — Australia’s Melbourne Film Fest will highlight Oz’s contribution to the world of schlock cinema, the so-called Ozploitation pics of the 1980s. The 57th edition of the fest begins July 25 with the world premiere of Mark Hartley’s “Not Quite Hollywood,” celebrating the genre and its dubious artistic qualities.

Hartley’s pic sets the tone for the 16-day fest as the centerpiece of an Ozploitation selection that includes Bruce Beresford’s rudimentary 1970s comedy co-starring a young Dame Edna Everage “Barry McKenzie Holds His Own.” There’s also a spotlight on George Romero and a generous amount of male-centric titles.

Under the artistic direction of Richard Moore, in his second year overseeing the fest, more than 200 features will unspool alongside a four-day film mart. And while a few U.S. fests are dabbling in financing their own films, Melbourne has jumped in with both feet. Six pics will screen that are part-funded by the fest’s Premiere Fund, a state government scheme announced in 2007 that’s funneled A$1.6 million ($1.6 million) over two years into a slate of pics.

In its second year, the film mart, dubbed 37 South, has doubled to 36 the number of its registered film financiers and buyers to include reps from Miramax, Aramid, Weinstein Co., Bankside, Magnolia/Magnet and the Works. Registration by domestic producers is up by one-third, and organizers have scheduled 814 meetings. “We aim to be a feeder market,” organizer Mark Woods says.

The producers of numerous films currently in production met their sales agents at last year’s event, but Woods says, “for emerging to mid-career producers, the meeting can be the outcome because it means their scripts don’t end up in slush piles.”

This year, at the request of buyers, 37 South will host industry-only screenings of completed films seeking distribution deals.

Six docus including “Not Quite Hollywood” comprise the first crop of pics part-financed by the Premiere Fund, with each receiving about $100,000 in last-stage funding from the fest. Also among the titles is a docu on the colorful life of Vanity Fair writer, “Celebrity, Dominic Dunne” and “Rock & Roll Nerd,” an intimate docu on the meteoric rise of Melbourne musical comedian Tim Minchin.

Next year’s slate is made up mostly of feature films, which the Fund invested in at an early stage.

Helmer Brian Trenchard-Smith is attending, and will talk about two of his Ozploitation pics “Dead-End Drive-in” and “Turkey Shoot.”

The Ozplotation genre can be controversial — Beresford for example, has distanced himself from his early works, saying the critical reaction to them was so bad he was forced to seek work abroad.

“I think they hold up,” Moore says of the program, which will give audiences a chance to decide for themselves.

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