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All That is Solid

Film by John Hughes

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All That is Solid


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The present is characterized by the absence of shared visions of the future. While circulation of commodities and technology appear to command universal claims to meaning and dominance, fragmentation, diversity and difference occupy the foreground. All That is Solid was made in the context of Australia’s contested Bi-Centennial celebrations (1988) and financed through the Documentary Fellowship program, a scheme initiated by the Australian Film Commission and ABC TV to challenge the tendency to conformism of television with formal innovation. This film initiates a new category, ‘the speculative documentary’.

Director: John Hughes
Writers: Paul Davies, John Hughes.

Cast:
Paul Davies, Carolyn Howard, Nico Lathouris, Margaret Cameron, Mark Rogers, Louise Smith.

John Hughes is one of Australia’s most respected documentary (and drama) film directors, his work having won many awards. The films are usually Australian in orientation, examining art, cultural politics and history.  The work is often intensely research driven; the films are serious investigations into their material. Also they have cinematic creative flair.  His credits are numerous, starting in the early ‘70s with short films such as Nowhere Game, through to acclaimed documentaries in the ‘80s such as Film-Work, to the narrative feature What I Have Written in the ‘90s, and onto the recent award-winning documentaries The Archive Project (2006) and Indonesia Calling: Joris Ivens In Australia (2009).

Hughes was honored with Film Australia’s coveted Stanley Hawes Award, for Achievement In Documentary in 2006, and the inaugural Joan Long Award from the Australian and New Zealand Film History Association (2006).

Paul Davies graduated from UQ in 1972 with a BA (Hons) and MA in English Literature, and two years later trained as a script editor at Crawford Productions, where he arrived in time to witness the killing of Homicide and the birth of many Sullivans. He has since written for a dozen different drama series, including Stingers, Blue Heelers, and Something in the Air. Two plays, Storming St. Kilda by Tram (Currency Press) and On Shifting Sandshoes, received Awgies (Australian Writers Guild Awards), as did Return of the Prodigal, an episode of the ABC series, Something in the Air. Storming Mont Albert by Tram was first produced by Theatre Works, and was performed on many trams for more than a decade in both Melbourne and Adelaide, helping to pave the way for other site-specific plays, including: Breaking up in Balwyn (1983) on a riverboat, Living Rooms (1986) in a family mansion, and Full House/ No Vacancies (1989) in a former boarding house. Paul was a foundation member of Theatre Works, and co-director of the celebrated low budget short drama Exits, 50 minutes, 1981. He has worked on a number of John Hughes’ projects.

Awards:
Winner: ATOM (Australian Teachers of Media) Innovation Award 1989
Finalist: Best Director AFI Awards1988
Finalist; Greater Union Awards 1988
Winner: Award, Chicago Film Festival 1989

“All That is Solid takes us on a journey through time, both in its technical ability to impose and superimpose one dazzling image after another – for this is a non-narrative documentary, which successfully incorporates the swift shifts of emphasis from one apparently disconnected action to another, familiar to devotees of video clips as a stylistic device – and in his central intention to address an Australian response to the prospect of the future…

The most impressive quality about the film for me is its refusal to occupy any final rhetorical stance towards its subject. Within the mosaic of its various abbreviated threads, its “narratives”, it suggests a pattern of rich relationships, which seem even after a second or third viewing to be inexhaustible. These implications apply to a diverse range of theses including males/female relationships, the future of the family, the effect of infancy on adulthood, the nature of sexual revenge, labor relations, the artificiality of the media, and the reification of ideas.” – John Slavin, The Age ‘Monthly Review’, May 1989.

John Hughes has a unique film style.He layers images and texts using a Dadaist technique to provoke a critical reading of the film.  This makes his films complex to watch because they work outside a familiar film language and do not meet our expectations.  Hughes likes to challenge the viewer on all levels.” – Catherine Gough-Brady, Dox Magazine, Winter 2009.

 

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