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Antipodean angst: Down Under Berlin

Explore the murky side of paradise at Australian and New Zealand film fest Down Under Berlin, Sep 19-23 at Moviemento.

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Explore the murky side of paradise at Australian and New Zealand film fest Down Under Berlin, Sep 19-23 at Moviemento.

Down Under Berlin is a dependably vibrant celebration of Australian and New Zealand cinema, but the line-up for this eighth edition confronts darker aspects of Antipodean culture. Opener Sweet Country sets the tone – it’s a contemplative Outback western that explores how Australia was essentially built on slavery. Pete Gleeson’s Hotel Coolgardie paints an unflinching picture of two Finnish girls working in a pub in a remote mining town, experiencing appalling misogyny and racism at the hands of their white male punters. The formally daring Terror Nullius is a YouTube-style mash-up of Australian cultural touchstones like Picnic at Hanging Rock and Mad Max, which inventively critiques the country’s fragile masculinity and xenophobic leanings. A much-needed shot of optimism is offered by Black Divaz, which points towards a more inclusive future: taking us inside the inaugural Miss First Nation drag pageant, it uses the backstories of its diverse queens to explore the knotty intersections of gender and race.

Moviemento, downunderberlin.de