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Australia, 1974 (MIFF 2002, Australian Showcase)

Director: Peter Weir

Peter Weir's first feature was a highly unusual black comedy. Misunderstood for years, The Cars That Ate Paris has overtones of J.G. Ballard's urban science fiction and Jean-Luc Godard's Weekend. In the opening scene travellers enjoying an idyllic country drive in a devilishly clever parody of 70s cigarette commercials. A peaceful reverie is shattered when their vehicle hurtles off the road crashing with a single survivor, Arthur Waldo.

Waldo finds himself in the hospital of an isolated outback town called Paris. The area is cursed by an unusually high number of automobile accidents. It transpires that these 'accidents' are the backbone of the local economy: a local doctor carries out bizarre experiments on the crash victims; vehicles are stripped of parts and personal belongings. Packs of local youths race and conduct a peculiar kind of demolition derby in reconstructed wrecks looking like day-glo versions of Mad Max vehicles. Waldo is torn between uncovering the final, deadly secret of Paris or getting the helI out of town. A new 35mm print of this Australian classic.

Peter Weir (Sydney, 1944) is one of the most internationally acclaimed Australian directors. After local success with films like Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975), Gallipoli (1981) and The Year of Living Dangerously (1982), Weir moved offshore for Hollywood hits like Witness (1985), Dead Poets Society (1989) and The Truman Show (1998).

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