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THE LIFE OF HARRY DARE

Australia, 1995 (MIFF 1995)

Director: Aleksi Vellis

A comedy/drama set in the b(l)ackstreets of Adelaide, Aleksi Vellis' follow up to Nirvana Street Murder (MIFF 91) charts the tumultuous life of Harry Dare, a 30 year old urban-Aborigine struggling to get to know his young son, keep out of gaol, reconcile with his estranged careerist wife and recover his prized possession, the blue Kombi he has spent years restoring.

Shot with enormous flair and a wicked sense of humour, The Life of Harry Dare challenges and spoofs cultural stereotypes whilst cracking your funny bones. Even five years ago who would have imagined a Koori comedy about a haunted car? Completely rewriting the guidelines for white film­makers dealing with indigenous issues, Harry Dare is no solemn tale of regret, but a daring race-reversal comedy.

The first thirty minutes explode with plot lines, flashbacks and secondary characters sketching Harry's life to date. After this frenetic start the story settles down in the quest for the missing kombi and the mystery that lurks within that dreaded Deutchen people mover. Vellis and writer Thompson pull the threads together in a surprisingly moving conclusion that vindi­cates Harry's obsession with the car and its connection to the memories that haunt him.

For lurking just beneath the surface of all hese decidedly b-movie flourishes-the hard-Doiled detective fare, tacky music, car chases, illicit dockland crimes and the ubiquitous bumbling, racist cops-is a whole other movie, one hat weaves the aboriginal concept of dreaming into pulp fictions of a distinctively (South) Australian vintage.

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