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Australia, 1994 (MIFF 1994, Architecture Programme)

Director: David Caesar

What does a fence mean to you? Bits of wood and concrete that distinguish one person's property from another? In this case, the definition extends further to encompass the sometimes self-imposed walls which distinguish individuals. Ingeniously and seemingly effortlessly shot, David Caesar takes us on a strange journey through the suburbs and shows us that behind each wooden fence lies a human one infinitely more impenetrable.

Narrated by Sydney University's historical anthropologist, Dr Ronald Fletcher, Fences "investigates the poetics, politics and paranoias of a personal space that starts where your skin ends and everything else begins".

David Caesar's eye for the unusual (often bordering on the bizarre) proves, like his previous films Body Work and Living Rooms, that truth really is stranger than fiction. The scary thing is that all the participants in the film could be you or me! Steven, for instance, doesn't like being in lifts, Russel imparts his theories about interpersonal communications on buses and planes while Judy has her own theories about men's behaviour in bed. What is it that makes the obvious observations of these people so interesting? Certainly it's everyone's voyeuristic nature at being let into someone's life but it is also the pin-point accuracy in which the mundane, everyday thoughts are given an individual social importance and context.

But are the fences built to keep them in or us out?

See also...

The Big End

Don is a suburban hero who only wants to fix the big end on his Holden and take his girlfriend up North, but his dreams are upset by his pragmatism. He progressively loses everything, decides to sell ... More »

Living Room

Why do people live where they do? Do they have a choice in the way they live? What does 'home' mean? Living Room is not about the politics of housing, hut reveals unique cultural aspects. ... David ... More »


In love for the long haul. ... From celebrated Australian filmmaker David Caesar (Dirty Deeds, Mullet) comes Prime Mover, a diesel-charged romance about ambition, pressure, responsibility, and the ... More »


A film about people who touch dead bodies. Morticians, embalmers, grave diggers, nurses and others describe their work in 'a down to earth manner'. The filmmakers describe it as a 'layperson's guide ... More »


Concrete City charts City West's development in Pyrmont focusing on the clash between commercial and residential interests. Controversies dealt with include the casino, the heliport, and the ... More »

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