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Year: 1971, 68 minsDVD/Streaming - NTSC/PAL
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Year: 1971, 68 minsDVD/Streaming
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Short feature about a magazine publisher.Bonjour Balwyn: Kevin Agar (John Duigan) has left a job in insurance to start his own magazine, called Bolo. His middle class parents dont understand it, and very few people buy it. As his debts mount, Kevin loses his girlfriend, his friends and his secretary.
"The film is not exactly drama, not simply comedy and more than a little influenced by documentary styles. Some of the dialogue is improvised and the camera is often allowed to run for long takes. The rhythm is more like daily life than constructed life – although Buesst’s sense of humour becomes more confident (and therefore structured) as the film develops." Paul Byrnes, Australian Screen
Director: Nigel Buesst Stars:John Duigan, Peter Cummins and John Romeril After graduating B Com from Melbourne Uni in 1960, Nigel Buesst sought work in the British film industry. He worked at Shepperton Studios as an assistant editor and on various other freelance assignments before returning to Melbourne in 1962 to work for the ABC at Ripponlea. Since then he's worked in various capacities, as film editor, cameraman, sound recordist, producer and director. He was particularly active in the '60s Carlton scene, made manifest in the doco Carlton + Godard = Cinema. He spent thirteen years as a lecturer at Swinburne University's Film and TV Department and five years as Director of the St Kilda Film Festival. Nigel Buesst started out with a biopic about Squizzy Taylor and has returned to the form on several occasions, fascinated perhaps by the excitement and variety of other people's lives. Recent subjects have been Benny Featherstone, a memorable bandleader of the '30s, and Gerry Humphrys, the lead singer of The Loved Ones. There have been numerous shorts, mostly on 16mm and in collaboration with others, and a few features, the most ambitious being Compo in 1987. This filmed version of a play by Abe Pogos was screened at the 1989 MIFF and sold to BBC television. Nigel's main influences have been filmmakers who have achieved magic on minimal budgets, ranging from the British Free Cinema movement through to the French New Wave, to Andy Warhol in New York, Raul Ruiz, Werner Herzog, even the Dogma crowd. But he concedes that magic on any budget is alluring, like Mulholland Drive or Punch-drunk Love.
Nigel Buesst, in the late 1960s, was part of a loose group of aspiring filmmakers who are now called ‘the Carlton group’, after the suburb where most of them lived in Melbourne. Carlton at the time was a bohemian centre of inner Melbourne; there was an older bohemian community at Eltham, where Tim Burstall lived (but most of them were artists). Just how cohesive the Carlton group was is open to debate. Buesst himself has said the myth of collaboration between these filmmakers is a bit far-fetched. ‘We were mostly then, as now, egos bouncing around in opposition’, he said in 2003. Nevertheless, there were friendships and common influences, and these can be traced in many of the films made at the time. The French 'new wave’ had had a major impact; government film funding was yet to do so, but the determination to make something – anything – with a camera was very strong in a few people.
Buesst’s Bonjour Balwyn gives a glimpse of that determination at work. It was written by Buesst, playwright John Romeril (who plays Alan) and John Duigan, who became a successful Australian director in his later career (Flirting). It was shot by Tom Cowan (before he made The Office Picnic). The cast included Alan Finney (the writer with the moustache who buys the beer in clip two), who would go on to become a powerful figure in the industry as director of marketing at Village Roadshow. And the style of the film reflects a desire to create more open, organic films in which conventional plot, character development and psychology were jettisoned.
The film is not exactly drama, not simply comedy and more than a little influenced by documentary styles. Some of the dialogue is improvised and the camera is often allowed to run for long takes. The rhythm is more like daily life than constructed life – although Buesst’s sense of humour becomes more confident (and therefore structured) as the film develops. The last ten minutes of the film, as Kevin becomes enmeshed in the repossession business with Peter Cummins, leaves the viewer with a richly satirical observation on the realities of ‘cultural production’. Kevin discovers that slightly criminal work pays a lot better.
Paul Byrnes, Australian Screen
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