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Australia, 1996 (MIFF 1996, Australian Panorama)

Director: Scott Hicks

It is Australia, the late 1950's. A talented young teenage boy studies piano under the stern tutelage of his domineering father. Although offered a scholarship to study further in the US, his father forbids him to take it up.

It is swinging London, the late 60s The boy now in his early 20s. has finally escaped the clutches of his embittered father, having won a scholarship at the Royal College of Music, where he studies under the legendary professor Cecil Parkes. His remarkable talents flower, but at the height of his triumph, he collapses onstage. After again being rejected by his father, he is to spend 15 years in and out of psychiatric hospitals, undergoing shock treatment and unable to play the piano. Incredibly, the story is true, but mercifully that is not the end of David Helfgott's biography, the inspiration for Scott Hicks' equally as remarkable film. For the director this has been a true labour of love, its genesis a Helfgott performance Hicks attended in 1986. When the film had its World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in lanuary this year, it capped a remarkable ten-year journey of persistence and faith on the part of the director. This passion propels the film, along with Helfgott's devastating yet ultimately inspirational story, and lifts Snine to a tremendously moving finale.

Amongst a perfectly chosen cast, Geoffrey Rush's mesmerising and immensely touching portrayal of the mature David Helfgott is not one soon forgotten, while on the film's intricate soundtrack, the real-life David Helfgott plays the piano for his screen counterparts It's a triumphant encore.


See also...


Australia, 2008
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