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I'LL BE HOME FOR CHRISTMAS

Australia, 1984 (MIFF 1985)

Director: Brian McKenzie

I'll be Home for Christmas cuts through social taboos to explore the subculture of people commonly dismissed as ‘derelicts'. In its portrayal of five homeless men, the film challenges conventional views of alcoholism and homelessness by depicting these men as members of a social network with a highly developed sense of mutual concern and camaraderie. The film also examines the interaction these men have with organised society. Four of the men have been the core of a shifting group who live in and around the parks of North Melbourne. When filming started, their home was a box by a tram track where weekend cricketers kept their equipment. The men used support institutions (to varying degrees), this depending on their health, the weather, and how independent they wished to remain. The fifth man, Frank Pardy, is in his seventies, frequents the same area, but his routine is subject to the scheduled operation of Ozanam House, the St Vincent de Paul refuge.

The film is a closely observed and sympathetic study of a particular group in a proscribed social environment its political stance arising from the material. The presence of the film crew is not hidden, nor have comments and questions to us been deleted. More importantly, we have not 'privileged' ourselves in regard to our 'subjects' by any obvious exercise in expiation, or commitment and concern which rarely extends beyond the shooting period. Rather, we recognise our inevitable functions as representative of the social chain - from welfare institutions to hospitals, to government departments, to the media - which, in making a living out of these men, establishes and perpetuates the social order which needs such figures, as symbolic failures, to 'prove' its own success.

- Brian McKenzie & John Cruthers

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