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Australia, 1988 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Nigel Buesst

Fresh-faced university graduate Paul Harper (Jeremy Stanford) doesn't know what he's let himself in for when he starts his new job at the State Compensation Office. Instead of an efficient government agency speedily processing claims for Workers' Compensation (a.k.a. 'Compo') Paul encounters a lethargic group of bureaucratic bunglers.

From double talking office manager David (Bruce Kerr) to sleazy desk lizard Carlo (Christopher Barry) to dim-witted, paper plane flying Tom (Rohan Woods), the setup looks hardly inspiring for the zealous newcomer. Nor is he too favourably impressed by the division's outdoor filed investigators Vince (Peter Hosking) and Eddie (Leo Regan) whose job it is to track down suspected 'compo cheats'.

Paul's comparative innocence and idealism are severely tested by this expert gallery of knaves and clowns and eventually even he has to let a few right-minded principles slip . . .

Through its crazy vignettes, laconic dialogue and surprisingly likeable characters, Buesst's low-budget local feature concocts an amusing mosaic and a telling microcosm from the workaday human condition. Abe Pogos's script deals out the acid drops merrily, the performances are spot-on and on the technical side, both Oscherov's camerawork and Ghazarian's editing are stylishly streamlined. All up, a punchy Australian celluloid satire comparable with the best of Alan Ayckbourn, Bill Forsyth and David Williamson. - (PKe)

'Compo' started as a play, presented at the Victorian College of the Arts, Despite the stage limitations there was obvious potential for a more expansive film interpretation.

I have always wanted to make tow budget features, if only for the freedom from commercial strictures and expectations. That's my alibi anyway. If it all makes sense and touches the emotions, who needs a cast of thousands?' - Nigel Buesst

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