Some notes on some of my films ...
Holzwege Wood Roads/Wrong Ways
I graduated from Melbourne’s Swinburne Film and TV School in 1983 with my short film, Holzwege: Wood Roads: Wrong Ways, a 15-minute mock documentary based on the prison diaries of Nazi architect Albert Speer. The choice of genre was inspired by documentaries such as Peter Greenaway’s Act of God (1980) and The Falls (1980). Documentary was also a strategy to avoid the usual student film pitfalls of poor dialogue and bad acting.
In Speer’s diary he reports that he obsessively calculated the distance he walked daily in the prison yard and the distance covered. Speer used the data to calculate where he might have walked, were he free. The film, which follows his imaginary journey around the world during a 20-year prison term, combines re-enactments, found footage (home movies), archival clips from Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935) and extracts from Speer’s diary. An exploration of space and place: the film enters his imaginary journey and documents it as actuality. The title “Holzwege”, the nom de plume that Speer used in the diaries, is taken from the title of one of Heidegger’s books, meaning “wood roads” or “wrong ways”, a reference to Romantic “wanderings”.
Holzwege won Best Australian Short Film at Melbourne Film Festival (1984) and was nominated for Best Experimental Film in the AFI Awards (1984). In 1985, Holzwege was selected to screen at Oberhausen Short Film Festival. I attended the Berlin Film Festival as a buyer for the State Film Centre, not anticipating controversy in Germany. The subject of Holzwege — Speer’s ambiguity as a historical figure and his guilt (convicted of war crimes at Nuremberg with the rest of the Nazi leadership) — was a sensitive issue for German audiences at the time, such that the Oberhausen festival jury announced that they “officially regretted” the film’s inclusion in the festival. Yet the film went on to screen at many other international festivals without incident.
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A residency at the Power Studio in Paris (Sydney University/Australia Council) in 1989 saw further opportunity to travel, travelling in China with Ziyin Wang, a Beijing Film Academy (BFA) graduate. Wang offered an introduction to artists, filmmakers and writers involved in the Democracy Wall Movement and while travelling in China the concept of “parallel histories” first became apparent. The Chinese view of history saw China very much as the centre of the world for at least 4000 years—a challenging concept for those of us who had been raised in the shadow of Europe.
In 2007 with all eyes on Beijing and the impending Olympics, development began on a documentary about the rapid change that the city was experiencing and a return to China for the first time since 1989. The film New Beijing: Reinventing a City (2009) uses architecture as a frame to examine the impact of rapid redevelopment on that city, its residents and its cultural heritage. Exploring the power of globalisation to drive widespread development and rapid social change, and informed by Deyan Sudjic’s book, The Edifice Complex (2005) about “the architecture of power”, with echoes of my earlier film Holzwege. The film looked at the symbolism of the new Olympic buildings (the Watercube, Birdsnest, and CCTV building) and the massive development taking place: it was process-driven, shooting from the outset and researching and reviewing material until a story emerged. Interviews were mixed with observational footage following key characters. The staff of the NGO, Friends of Old Beijing, introduced me to heritage activist Zhang Jinxi, who became the main character and through his eyes we witness the changes as his group photograph Beijing’s old districts for posterity, in the face of clearances. The photography exhibition “Memory of China” (2009) used the images to recreate a city from what by then existed “only in memory” and it was a time capsule of the old districts before they were wiped completely by authorities.
The film’s production period began in 2007, midway through the Olympic boom, and by the end of 2009, the story had emerged. Beijing’s massive scale, the redevelopment process and environmental impacts such as air pollution were all “monumental”. The film ends with Ruan’s prophetic remarks:
China’s problem is the problem of the world. We are connected; the dust of the Chinese construction sites eventually will reach our shores. But that’s a much deep [er] dilemma for both the West and the Chinese to actually work together.
And before the planet is doomed.
This comment and others in the film—about China’s aspirations as a global power, the affects of the economic boom, urbanisation and mass migration to the cities—led to the current research into global economics, environment and the concept of interconnectedness.
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The impulse to explore China and Australia in film or video motivated the next creative project, The Earth and the Elements, a 5-channel video 25 min gallery installation.
The Australian resource industry has been described as “the largest movement of earth in the planet’s history” [The Guardian, 2013]. This installation explores ecological impacts of extraction and flow of mineral resources from Australia to China, and transformation into energy, infrastructure and goods. Movement and change are shown visually, via combustion and manufacturing, as data flows, goods and environmental outputs. Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal and Water are used as a framework of elements, to present two countries as partners in Climate Change.
The concept of parallel histories is pursued using the history of the Chinese documentary movement as a parallel to its cousin in the West, as well as other parallels or dualities: such as the “new world” versus the “old”, East vs. West, and North vs. South.
- Georgia Wallace-Crabbe, 2015
The Earth and the Elements
FILMS AS DIRECTOR
2015 The Earth and The Elements - 5-Channel HD Video 26:46 Minutes, 5:1 Audio.
Five-Channel Video Installation exploring ecological issues arising from the extraction and flow of mineral resources from Australia to China, to be transformed into energy, infrastructure construction and manufacturing: a response to global ecological issues using an intercultural, multi-screen approach.
2009 NEW BEIJING: REINVENTING A CITY (52 min HD Video),
Winner ATOM Award for Best Documentary Politics, History and Social Issues (2010) Guangzhou Film Festival 2009, Documentary Edge Festival NZ, Sydney Film Festival (competition), Beijing Movie Festival, Planet in Focus Environmental Festival, Toronto, CNEX Festival Taiwan & Hong Kong, Asia Society New York Oct 2011, Archeology Film Festival Oregon, USA, FIFA (Festival Int. des Film Sur L’Art) Montreal, Canada, and Winner Archeology Film Festival Awards: Special Mention award for the best depiction of cultural change. Honorable Mention by jury in the Narration and Inspiration categories
1995 Co-Director/Producer - Life Chances 55 min 16 mm
SBS Cutting Edge. Co-director Greg Miller
1993 Director - Life Forms 16mm 37 min short drama.
Film Victoria Independent Filmmakers Fund Festivals: Film West, Melbourne International Film Festival, St Kilda, Mumbai Film Festival, Monticatini Terme, Figuera da Foz and Women On Women Film Festival.
1988 Director/Producer - A Meeting Of Ways Documentary
SBS Australian Mosaic series. EP Barbara Mariotti.
1987 Writer/Director- Can’t Catch Prawns Without Ice-Cream Doc 52-min 16mm
AFC funded Producer Janet McLeod. Screened Melbourne Fringe Festival & various foreign film festivals.
1983 Writer/Director - Holzwege: Wood Roads/Wrong Ways short. 15 min, 16mm
Swinburne (VCA) Film School. Winner Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Film, Melbourne Film Festival Nominated Best Experimental Film AFI Awards ‘84. Festivals; Oberhausen, Edinburgh, Karlovivary, Los Angeles Golden Gate Awards, Figuera da Foz.
FILMS AS PRODUCER
2014 THESE HEATHEN DREAMS (52 min) Documentary
Director Anne Tsoulis, French coproduction. Screen OZ, SNSW, SAFC
2013 BREAKER MORANT THE RETRIAL (2 x 52 min)
Drama doco for Foxtel History Channel directors Gregory Miller and Nick Bleszynski
2010 Line Producer – BE GOOD JOHNNY WEIR series
Sundance Channel USA, Australian Ep.
2009 Writer/ Director NEW BEIJING: REINVENTING A CITY (52 min)
2009 Line Producer – ANGELS IN NEW YORK (4 X 28) min doc.
Producers Greg Miller and Liz Courtney, SBS TV
2008 Line Producer – DEAD TIRED (2 X 52) min doc. series
Dir. Paul Scott SBS and National Geographic
2006 Line Producer – One Of the Lucky Ones, (28-min) Animated /drama/doc.
Dir. Wendy Chandler. (AFC, SBS, NSWFTO)
2006 Line Producer PERFECTS DISASTERS: FIRESTORM (52 min)
Drama-doc for Discovery (Impossible Pictures UK, Discovery)
2004/5 Producer/ Line Producer - Jabe Babe: A Heightened Life (52 min) Drama-Doc
director Janet Merewether (AFC, SBS, NSWFTO). Winner IF AWARD - Best Australian Documentary 2005 AFI AWARD - Best Documentary Directing 2005 MERIT AWARD Taiwan Int'l Doc Fest.
2003 Co Producer Besieged – The Ned Kelly Story (52 min doc Network 9, TG4 Ireland)
Drama-doc Australia-Ireland Coproduction.
Winner Audience Prize Dublin Stranger than Fiction Film Festival
2002 Co Producer - Shark Tracker (52 min doc)
Australia/France Coproduction, France 5, France 3, Channel 9 FFC/FTO.
Winner Jury Prize Val Isère Nature &Adventure Film Festival
2001 Production Manager - King of the Market documentary
director Mark Abicht and producer Gregory Miller.
SBS/FFC Non-Accord (with Vision TV Canada)
2000 Line Producer - MIRROR 10 min
directors Sophie Alstergren and Nicky Moss. Sonik Films & UTS
1999 Production Manager - Feature Film SATURDAY NIGHT
Late Saturday Films. SBS. Director James Balian. Producer Charlie Doane. Stars Aaron Pedersen and Alison Whyte.
1998 Producer / Production Manager -Temple on the Hill ‘98
30 -min doc
NSW FTO & SBS Director Kay. Screened London Film Festival, Mumbai Film Festival ’98 & WOW Film Festival ’98.
1998 Producer / Curator - LOUD Media Festival of Youth Culture and the Arts.
Executive Producer LOUD Dox series 4 X 30-min docos by young directors, ABC TV, AFC & state film funding bodies;
1998 Producer OUR PLACE - 1 hour Special for Network 10- 8 x 5 minute documentaries by directors under 25;
Programmer/Manager - The Loud Televised Short Film Festival, screening on ABC, SBS, Optus, Foxtel and Community TV; short films by directors under 30.
1995 Co-Producer/Co-Director - Life Chances 55 min
Doc FOR SBS Cutting Edge. Co-Director with Gregory Miller.
Jabe Babe: A Heightened Life
Producer - MANDALAY 16mm 114 min
Feature doc by director Maggie Fooke, Film Victoria & AFC Melbourne Film Festival '94.
1991 Producer/Production Manager Los Perros Drama, 22 min, Director Greg Miller.
Best Video Award St Kilda Film Festival ‘92. Festivals: Melbourne, Brisbane & Frames Film Festivals.
1990 Producer/Director - Butoh and the Japanese Documentary 10 min 16mm.
Screened Melbourne Film Festival & Perth Frames Festivals.
1990 Producer/Production Manager - World Window Japan
Corporate videos, Mainichi Corporation. Japanese/English. 30 min.
1988 Producer/Director - A Meeting Of Ways
Documentary SBS Australian Mosaic series. EP Barbara Mariotti.
1987 Producer/Production Manager - New Gold Mountain 30 mins. 16mm.
Director Ziyin Wang. Swinburne (VCA)
1987 Producer/Production Manager - Love Della starring Kate Cebrano
short film by Graeme Wood funded by AFC. Screened ABC and film festivals.
1985 2nd Assistant Director/Director’s Attachment - Cactus Feature film
stars Isabelle Huppert. Director Paul Cox. Film Victoria Attachment Scheme; also Accounts assist. in post production.
1985 Unit Manager/Assistant Art Director - High Heels
Director Sue Brooks. Victorian Women’s Film Unit
1984 Producer - For Want Of 15 mins 16mm
Director Jane Stevenson. Short drama. Funding AFC. Screened Melbourne Film Festival ‘85.
1983 Producer/Director - Holzwege: Wood Roads/Wrong Ways Mock documentary. 15 mins, 16mm
Swinburne. Nominated for Best Experimental Film, AFI Awards Other festivals; Oberhausen, KarloviVari, Golden Gate Film Festival San Francisco, Edinburgh and Spain. Winner Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Film, Melbourne Film Festival ‘84
1983 Producer - Private and Confidential 10 mins. Joe Bogdanov.
Swinburne Winner ATOM Award for Best Film ‘84
Georgia Wallace-Crabbe, November 2015.
Georgia's website (Film Projects)
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Contact Georgia Wallace-Crabbe
to Melbourne independent filmmakers index page