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RATS IN THE RANKS

Australia, 1996 (MIFF 1996, Australian Panorama)

Director: Bob Connolly, Robin Anderson

Australia's foremost documentary filmmaker Robin Anderson and Bob Connolly, have turned their unblinking gaze from the tribe, cultures of the PNG highlands (Black Harvest,. Leahy's Neighbours, First Contact) to tribes closer I home, the inner-city council around Leichhan (taking in Glebe. Annandale and Balmain in Sydney's inner west)

Filming for nine months and culling from ( hours of footage, they have fashioned e intimate portrait of local government in the lead up to the annual mayoral election But this is not about the day to day workings of a count (ratepayers complaints, road maintenance even the notorious third runway), the only rats this town would appear to be in the chamber.

Once again, the filmmakers focus down on the particular to illustrate the general. Once again, under analysis are the fundamental fore which drive people-the 'tribal' elements human relationships about which the filmmakers are not unfamiliar.

Camera-hungry, leather-jacket Larry emerges as the natural star of this drama Larry is clearly inspired by the call of office and has become very comfortable in the mayoral chair over t previous two years.While in principle Larry should stand down for another councillor take the mayoralty, he is reticent to do so. Meanwhile the Labour councillors, who have the majority on the council, are squabbling over who will get their nod-and thus almost certainly the robes of office (and its full-time salary).

Behind the scenes jostling, 'off the record phone calls to journalists and alarmingly rubber political positions are the basis of the drama which through inspired observations and edititing are brought to a level of grandeur, of dram almost Shakespearian in its skullduggery a deception, that will leave you gasping (TB)

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