Thursday, 19 January 2006

real life on film 2006: second round of highlights announced

The ground-breaking interactive BBC documentary How to Sleep Better; the world premiere of The Archive Project, John Hughes fascinating cinematic history of the Melbourne Realist Film Unit; Velcrow Ripper's Scared Sacred and Sophiatown, the feature-length docu-musical telling the story of Johannesburg's Harlem some more of the films premiering during Real Life on Film.

With 17 international guest filmmakers now confirmed to attend the festival and over 30 premiere screenings, ACMI will become a mecca for documentary lovers when Real Life on Film begins on Saturday 11 February.

New films just confirmed to screen during the festival include:

How to Sleep Better (UK) ***AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE**
How to Sleep Better was a landmark interactive television event originally broadcast on BBC1 to an audience of over 6.5 million in early 2005. Presented by Professor Robert Winston (who also presented the IMAX film The Human Body), How to Sleep Better is a practical guide to the world of sleep, which set out to dispel the myths about sleep deprivation, tackle the most common sleeping disorders and provide real practical tips and advice that you could try at home. The program was designed to give viewers personal feedback during the transmission both on analogue and digital TV. Analogue viewers could calculate their own sleep profiles using a pen and paper whilst Digital viewers could press a button on their remote control to have their responses analysed automatically.

To be introduced by director Marc Goodchild (producer of the world's first factual interactive production, Walking with Beasts), How to Sleep Better audiences will have an opportunity to have their sleep patterns analysed following the screening.

Sophiatown: Blues for Mandela  (Ireland/South Africa/UK) ***MELBOURNE PREMIERE***
Pascale Lamache's award-winning docu-musical recounts the fascinating history of Johannesburg's 'Harlem' where a melting pot of extraordinary talent - musical, intellectual and political - thrived during the 1950s. Before the Apartheid regime, in a calculated act of ideological spite, uprooted the district's black families, bulldozed large parts of the town and rebuilt a township for whites it named Triumph. Features Nelson Mandela (a former resident) and a non-stop cavalcade of Afro-jazz greats including Abdullah Ibrahim, Hugh Masekela and Dolly Rathebe.

The Archive Project (Australia) ***WORLD PREMIERE***
20 years in the making, The Archive Project tells the story of the hugely influential but historically neglected Melbourne Realist Film unit, a collective of independent filmmakers whose pioneering work, during the 1940s-50s Cold War era, attracted the attention of ASIO and a government that suspected them of having communist sympathies. The Realists produced a series of films that were a reaction to the escapist artifice of mainstream Hollywood - focusing on such social issues as poverty, homelessness and unemployment. They also created the first film societies in this country, screening for the first time European (foreign language) films not previously available to Australian audiences, which they imported specifically for that purpose. Film academics / historians have long credited their efforts as laying the foundation for the Melbourne and Sydney Film Festivals.

Directed by John Hughes (River of Dreams, After Mabo, What I Have Written), The Archive Project abounds with amazing archival footage - newsreels, ASIO surveillance tapes, home movies and excerpts from the Realist films themselves, including fascinating insights into the slums of inner city Melbourne in the '50s, the early independent theatre scene, protest rallies, marches and key political events.

Award-winning Canadian filmmaker Velcrow Ripper embarked on a unique five-year pilgrimage to visit the 'Ground Zeros' of the planet. Ripper searched for proof of transcendence, compassion and healing as he uncovered stories of profound loss and trauma, survival and resilience in corners of the globe from Bhopal, India to post 9/11 New York. An intensely moving and transformative appeal to the human soul.
"Conveys a spirit and longing, harnessed with a compassionate sense of urgency"- Atom Egoyan

Also confirmed for Real Life on Film is a special Film Australia 60th Anniversary Retrospective, a five-session program curated and introduced by leading Australian filmmaker Bob Connolly (Rats in the Ranks, First Contact, Facing the Music). The program will include many of Film Australia's most documenting the first visit of a young Queen Elizabeth in 1954; early work from Peter Weir and Dean Semler and Connolly's own Rats In The Ranks.

For complete program go to

Real Life on Film is part of Festival Melbourne2006, the cultural festival of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. Festival Melbourne 2006 celebrates the breadth of culture and art from across the nations of the Commonwealth.  The Festival is an integral part of the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games, and it is proudly funded and supported by the Victorian and Australian Governments.

Further information

For further information, images or interviews please contact:

Danielle Poulos, ACMI Communications Coordinator
Ph: 03 8663 2415, m: 0417 540 543,

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