Umbrella restores more Oz classics

23 March, 2015 by Don Groves

Umbrella Entertainment is restoring Australian classic Jedda plus Angel Baby and Burke & Wills for re-issue in HD on DVD and VOD platforms as part of an ongoing preservation program.

The distributor is also working with producer Jane Scott and distributor Andrew Pike on an HD version of Scott Hicks’ Shine, and with Scott on Goodbye Paradise.

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As part of its restoration program which covers around 200 titles, Umbrella plans to release on one DVD two musical films produced by Peter Clifton, one on The Easybeats’ tour of England in 1967, the other looking at a concert by The Rolling Stones at Sydney Showground in 1966, hosted by DJ Ward ‘’Pally’’ Austin.

Shot in 1955, Jedda was the last film from Australian filmmaker Charles Chauvel, who died four years later. The first Australian feature made in colour, it starred Indigenous actors Robert Tudawali and Ngarla Kunoth in the saga of an Aboriginal woman who is raised as a European after her mother dies during childbirth and becomes fascinated by a tall stranger, a tribal Aboriginal from the bush.

Umbrella founder Jeff Harrison tells IF the film will be released in Australia in May/June and he will arrange international sales, primarily to VOD platforms.

Michael Rymer’s Angel Baby (1981) is a love story of two people with schizophrenia with a cast headed by John Lynch, Jacqueline McKenzie and Colin Friels.

Graeme Clifford’s Burke & Wills (1985) starred Jack Thompson as Robert O’Hara Burke, the explorer who in 1860 vowed to become the first man to cross the Australian continent.

Shine (1996) was released on Blu-ray some years ago but will be available on HD for the first time next month, featuring interviews with Geoffrey Rush, Hicks, Scott and composer David Hirschfelder.

Carl Schultz’s Goodbye Paradise starred Ray Barrett as a disgraced former cop who sets out to find a missing girl, the daughter of a senior politician, and plunges into the Gold Coast’s nightmarish world of corruption, sex, violence, cult religion and dirty politics.

Harrison says each restoration costs “quite a few thousands of dollars” but he can recoup from DVD, VOD and free-to-air sales.

The ABC commissioned The Easybeats film but more than 20 minutes footage was damaged in the lab and a 35-minute film resulted.

Clifton says, “The ABC insisted we change the title from Somewhere Between Heaven and Woolworths. My father came up with Easy Come, Easy Go, which was painfully metaphorical. The film was never screened on TV in Australia. When we asked the ABC for our materials to be returned they said everything was lost or buried somewhere in vaults or mistakenly binned.

“It would be 45 years before we found the black and white print of the film in San Francisco at a festival of English pop films. The promoters called Oddball were sweet as pie and after a few letters and phone calls returned the print in good grace. With the help of the National Film & Sound Archive, although the film had been cut and spliced in places, we restored the doco to pristine condition in digital hard drive. Easy Come, Easy Go opened the 2012 Sydney Film Festival and received a unanimous standing ovation.”

The Stones film, directed by Chris McCullough, looked at the Stones’ concert through Austin’s role and later screened on the Nine Network under the title What’s on the Flip Side.

Umbrella’s next major theatrical release will be Trespass Against Us, UK director Adam Smith’s debut feature starring Michael Fassbender and Brendan Gleeson, the saga of an outlaw father and son.

Harrison has been discussing a deal with Netflix for its Australian service, which he expects will include The Babadook.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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