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27A

Australia, 1974 (MIFF 2003, Australian Showcase)

Director: Esben Storm

Winner of the 1974 AFI Best Film award, 27A is an electrifying film experience, led by a remarkable performance from Robert McDarra. This Australian classic, which has never before screened at MIFF, wtll be presented as a newly restored print.

BiII Donald (McDarra) ts a middle-aged alcoholic, sentenced to six weeks in prison for a minor offence. While there he undergoes psychiatric treatment for his alcoholism and is committed to a hospital for the criminally insane for the duration of his sentence. However, under Section 27A of the Queensland Mental Health Act he can be detained indefinitely until the hospital authorities declare him eligible for release. Constantly clashing with the sadistic nurse, Cornish (Bill Hunter), Bill longs to escape, eager to visit his dying wife.

A film of its time politically, 27A is very much a metaphor for present day Australia. Based on a true story, and shot on location in 1973 at a Christian Brother's psychiatric hospital, 27A effectively explores a 'social neurosis' that saw a human being trapped in a bureaucratic nightmare, emerging the other side irreparably damaged. Tragically. Robert McDarra died in 1975, soon after he won the AFI Award for Best Actor.

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