Category Archives: Film

“The Oscars of Australian Science” – Eureka Awards Dinner 2010

eureka awards 2010

From one madcap taxi ride to Randwick Pavilion to regrettable post drinks at an open-till-5am bar on Oxford Street, the Eureka Awards Dinner is pretty much one of the best parties in town. Established in 1990, the Australian Museum Eureka Prizes are awarded annually to those with outstanding achievements in science and science communication. This year the highlights included chickens with feelings, photogenic insects and nicely-dressed scientists as far as the eye could see. I love a nicely-dressed scientist.

Sitting at the Science Week table I learnt about Questacon’s badly-behaved talking robot who said inappropriate things to children before they removed and reprogrammed him, and watched the 19 prizes being handed out over dinner.

Chicken sympathisers, Chris Evans and K-Lynn Smith, trumped researchers working on a way to replace animal testing and saving dogs from inherited disorders for the Research that Contributes to win the Prize for Scientific Research That Contributes To Animal Protection:

“Groundbreaking research using new high-tech chook-friendly testing facilities challenges the concept of the feckless fowl… titled Sentient chickens: the scientific case for improved standards, it portrays chickens as social, intelligent creatures complete with Machiavellian tendencies to adjust what they say according to who is listening.”

Given that chicken was being alternated with barramundi that night, I’m assuming they switched meals with whomever was sitting next to them while they waiting in the queue for the bathroom.

“What’s barramundi?” friends from Europe asked me.

“An Australian fish.”

“Sounds like a good name for a cat, or a baby girl.”

Europeans.

A world-first collaboration between a cattle breeder and six scientists won the Prize for Research by an Interdisciplinary Team for their work with Meat Standards Australia, and Amanda Barnard from CSIRO the prize for Scientific Research as she develops an invisible, environmentally friendly sunscreen.

I visited the COSMOS table up the front where things were getting suitably anarchic, before the saddest moment in the evening when our two nominees for the Science Journalism Prize, John Pickrell and Elizabeth Finkel, were beaten by the ABC. Read Pickrell’s incredible piece on feathered dinosaurs and Lizzie’s elegant exploration of genes here and here.

I tweeted/texted double sad faces from across the room.

“Are you blogging right now??”

“No. I’m just texting…”

Guys, I’m not that clever. Sorry.

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Attn: Children of Winter

J Olsson - Mt Hood

Fifty-nine. The number of films the prolific Warren Miller has made to date.  

Filmed in Japan, Austria, BC, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, Utah, Vermont, Iceland and of course, Alaska, Children of Winter is the latest release from Warren Miller Productions. Skiers and riders featured include Marco Sullivan, Seth Wescott, Gerry Lopez, Ben Watts, Josh Dirksen, Mark Landvik, Wendy Fischer and many, many, many more.

And it’s that time of year again. Warren Miller on tour. Always gets me a little giddy as it means winter is waiting for me just down the street and around the corner. And then down that next street at the T-intersection. Children of Winter is showing at Sydney’s State Theatre from the 28th of May until the 31st. Check the film’s website for national tour dates and ticket info.

Now, this film has not been getting great reviews. Jonny Moseley has taken over the production company – directing, narrating and starring in it. Too long, too much talking, not enough skiing, too many filler shots. But the cinematography looks amazing, the soundtrack is rad and, well, it’s about snow, so fuck it, I’m still going.

Forty-two. The number of days till season opener.

Can’t bloody wait.

Yours in pow,
Ra  xxx

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Luis Buñuel: Fo (Sur)real!

Un Chien Andalou

I have fairly scattered memories of my three years as an undergrad, but this image right here from Luis Buñuel’s Un Chien Andalou, the one of a fucking razor blade cutting across Simone Mareuil’s eye, the one that sends shivers down my spine every time it pops into my head (which, surprisingly, is more times than would be considered normal), yeah, this one takes me right back into that Old Geology Lecture Theatre, where I spent hours watching a collection of the most influential and not-so-influential, strange and not-so-strange, extremely boring and not-so-boring films of the past one hundred years. I suppose it is a testament to Buñuel’s brilliance that out of the many hundreds of hours of lectures and the thousands of essay words written, he is the one person/subject that has not sifted through the sieve that is my ‘university brain.’ 

Regarded as the father (grandfather, brother and uncle) of surrealist cinema, Buñuel died in July 1983, leaving behind thirty-two films and one hell of a legacy. Un Chien Andalou, is surrealism in its purist, but Viridiana, is quite possibly my favourite of his films. The context and time in which it was made just adds so much to its fascination for me. After twenty-four years in political exile, Buñuel returned to Spain to make a film about a novice nun who visits her uncle before taking her vows, only to be drugged and raped by him. Needless to say, Franco was not happy (Jan)*. Somehow, Buñuel managed to create a social commentary piece on a country cut off from the rest of the world by its Fascist regime, in said fascist’s own backyard and then slip it straight past his censors. Some sort of genius, definitely. But I wouldn’t really expect anything less from a man who used to dress up as a nun, along with Frederico Garcia Lorca, board trams and then proceed to wink and nudge at male passengers.   

The Spanish Film Festival is paying tribute to one of the most important directors EVER on the 25th anniversary of his death, spotlighting his films for this year’s festival, including Un Chien Andalou and Viridiana. The festival is also presenting an exhibit that has me counting down till the end of the month when I can finally run across the road and get me some lunchtime brain food. The exhibition, Buñuel – Amigos y Peliculas, is (hopefully) a fascinating selection of  photos, letters and posters from the Centro Buñuel de Calanda in Spain.

So, if you too would like the image of an eye ball being sliced in half as firmly ingrained into your subconscious as it is in mine…

Buñuel – Retrospective is screening as part of the Spanish Film Festival at Palace Academy Twin (Paddington), Palace Norton Street (Leichardt) & Chauvel Cinema (Paddington) from May 6 till May 18.

Buñuel – Amigos y Peliculas is showing at Sydney Customs House from April 29 till May 24. 

Oh, and (dot) (dot) (dot)

*sorry

Ra  xxx

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