Green Room: SA films selected for Sundance, critics’ picks

SA arts and culture news in brief: Two South Australian films set to screen at Sundance Film Festival, new report highlights the importance of arts projects in improving health outcomes, Bakehouse Theatre stalwarts honoured in Adelaide Critics Circle Awards, and a new uni mural celebrates connection to Country.

Dec 08, 2022, updated Mar 23, 2023
Sarah Snook stars in the new South Australian thriller 'Run Rabbit Run'. Photo: Carver Films

Sarah Snook stars in the new South Australian thriller 'Run Rabbit Run'. Photo: Carver Films

SA talent and landscapes on show at Sundance

SA-made film Run Rabbit Run – written by Adelaide Hills author Hannah Kent and starring South Australian actor Sarah Snook – will have its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival in 2023.

It was announced today as part of the line-up for the January 19-29 festival in Utah, which will also feature horror film Talk to Me, the directorial debut of South Australian brothers Danny and Michael Philippou (aka YouTubers RackaRacka), which had a preview screening at the recent Adelaide film Festival.

Run Rabbit Run – produced by Carver Films, directed by Daina Reid and filmed in the Riverland – stars Snook as a fertility doctor whose beliefs and values are challenged when her daughter begins to exhibit increasingly strange behaviour, while Talk to Me follows a group of friends who unwittingly open the door to the spirit world.

Both films were both supported by the South Australian Film Corporation, with CEO Kate Croser saying they showcase the depth and breadth of the state’s screen industry talent against a backdrop of stunning locations, “including the beautiful landscapes of the Riverland and the urban outlook of Adelaide city”.

Two other Australian films will also screen at the 2023 Sundance. Writer/director Noora Niasari’s debut Shayda, about a young Iranian mother who seeks shelter in a women’s refuge, will open the World Cinema Dramatic Competition, and Robert Connolly’s Blueback, based on the novel of the same name by Tim Winton, will have its US premiere at the festival.

“To have two feature debuts is a real coup, with rising talent Noora Niasari’s Shayda in competition, and RackaRacka, who have built an exceptional fanbase online, now reaching global audiences with their feature Talk to Me,” Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason said in a statement this morning.

“It’s also wonderful to see a range of stories representing Australia, from the stunning natural beauty celebrated in Blueback and the modern migrant experience showcased in Shayda, to the gripping supernatural tales in Talk to Me and Run Rabbit Run, which will no doubt have audiences on the edge of their seats.”

Telling the Story of Arts and Health in SA

Fresh policies and initiatives are needed to ensure that South Australia continues to reap the benefits of collaboration between the arts and health, according to a new report funded by the Arts and Health Alliance at Flinders University.

Telling the Story of Arts and Health in South Australia, launched today and available to read here, was co-authored by Dr Tully Barnett, Professor Joanne Arciuli and Dr Alex Cothren after interviews with 47 stakeholders in the field.

As well as chronicling the growth of arts and health projects ­– which seek to support patient recovery and improve health outcomes ­– the report also contains recommendations from interviewees on how to advance the future of arts and health projects, policy and investment.

Among these are recommendations to position arts and health as a vital part of the post-COVID recovery, for both physical health and mental wellbeing; to seek State Government investment for arts and health projects that contribute to community wellbeing; to design and fund arts and health initiatives that can support the Royal Commission into Aged Care’s recommendations on alleviating social isolation in older people; to facilitate interdisciplinary opportunities for medical and arts students; and to increase opportunities for key decision-makers to witness the transformative effects of arts and health work.

“These recommendations form an important platform for building a new era and agenda for the future of arts and health in South Australia and beyond,” says Dr Barnett. “It is an exciting time for arts and health right now.”

Art of belonging

The Kaurna Wirltu Tidna mural, by Cedric Varcoe, on the University of Adelaide’s Hub. Photo: Sam Roberts, courtesy of Guildhouse

A large mural by First Nations artist Cedric Varcoe now graces the glass façade of the University of Adelaide’s North Terrace hub, celebrating Kaurna culture and connection to Country.

Varcoe was commissioned to create the artwork, Kaurna Wirltu Tidna, in a partnership between the university and Guildhouse. It is 41 metres long by five metres wide, and was first painted on canvas, then adapted and scaled for the Hub’s western façade, taking four days to install.

“Where the campus is situated, where people go when they’re finished having lunch, they go and sit down and enjoy it, where for thousands of years the Kaurna people have enjoyed it as well, and they’re still connected to it today,” says Varcoe, a Ngarrindjeri and Narungga artist who was profiled last year as part of InReview’s In the Studio series.

“Wherever [people] tread, there’s history to that place; that place has got a spirit.”

The artwork includes the Southern Cross, the Milky Way and a river representing the nearby River Torrens / Karrawarri Pari, as well as people sitting in camps learning and hearing stories.

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“You’ll see tools amongst the people that are sitting in the shelters, and the shelters [represent] the various different fields that people go and study into, [with] tools of learning, of discovery,” Varcoe adds.

It was installed after consultation with Kaurna elder and University of Adelaide cultural adviser Uncle Rodney O’Brien.

And the winners are…

Melanie Munt and Marc Clement in A Streetcar Named Desire, the Bakehouse’s farewell show. Photo: Michael Errey

The importance of the now-closed Bakehouse Theatre to the local performing arts scene was acknowledged at the 2022 Adelaide Critics Circle Awards this week, with long-time operators Peter Green and Pamela Munt presented with Lifetime Achievement Awards.

The much-loved venue ­– which Green ran from the 1990s (when it was the Red Shed), with Munt coming on board later after looking for somewhere to present the works of her Unseen Theatre Company – was forced to close earlier this year when the lease on its Angas Street premises ended.

“For more than 25 years, the Bakehouse Theatre, under the wise leadership of Peter Green (creative producer) and Pamela Munt (artistic director), was a place where theatre was devised and developed, where storytelling abounded, and where the voices of many were expressed and united,” said the Critics Circle.

“It was a place to discuss new ideas and to stimulate conversations about events occurring around the world, or to question the norms, and to provide an affordable venue in which the next generation of artists, technicians, and everyone else associated with putting a production on stage can hone their craft.”

The venue’s final production of A Streetcar Named Desire, described as “a triumphant if bittersweet success”, was also recognised with the Group Award ­– Professional Theatre, alongside the Adelaide Festival production Watershed: The Death of Dr Duncan (also a winner at the recent Ruby Awards).

Red Phoenix Theatre’s Festen (presented at Holden Street Theatres) scooped the Group Award ­– Amateur or Community Theatre, while actor Adrian Barnes won the individual award in the same category for his role in Festen. Other award winners included singer, dancer and actor Stefanie Rossi (Individual Award – Professional Theatre), pianist Shawn Hui (Emerging Artist of the Year Award), Bowerbird Collective’s multi-media work Life on Land’s Edge (Independent Arts Foundation Award for Innovation), and painter Jasmine Crisp (Visual Arts Award).

Green Room is a regular column for InReview, providing quick news for people interested, or involved, in South Australian arts and culture.

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