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HOLIDAYS ON THE RIVER YARRA

Australia, 1991 (MIFF 1991)

Director: Leo Berkeley

Leo Berkeley's debut feature is a leisurely tale, enlivened by its singular sense of humour and passages of technical brilliance which recall the best of the French New Wave. The film focuses on the emotional turmoil of Eddie (superbly played by young Craig Adams), a detached, naive adolescent manipulated by the opportunistic, racist attitudes of those around him.

Lonely and impressionable, Eddie gets led on, and led into, a fantastical scheme by close friend Mick (Luke Elliot) and a "team" of right wing mercenaries who end up making Eddie look as much a "victim" as the blacks and Asians they all hate. When Eddie finally makes a move, it's the inevitable, ironic conclusion to what's ultimately a moral fable. Throughout, Berkeley takes a detached (but never distant) attitude towards the almost comic strip events, without descending to self-righteous indignation or condoning indulgence.

A seriously funny, comically tragic work, Holidays on the River Yarra heralds yet another impressively promising Melbourne Maverick. (M.K.)

Director's Note: "In 1983, several men were arrested in a seaside pub near Melbourne and were charged with conspiring to overthrow the government of the Comorros, a small group of islands off the coast of Africa... Around the same time there was a heated debate about the level of Asian immigration into Australia, a debate notable for intense feelings of fear and hatred it seemed to arouse in some people...

Thinking about these events and the connections between them led to the story for Holidays on the River Yarra, which, for me is about the distance between here and there - between urban Australia and deepest darkest Africa, between your ordinary world and your dreams, between one person and another." - Leo Berkeley

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