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Australia, 1999 (MIFF 1999, Australian Showcase)

Director: Joanne Parker

Like the Maysles brothers Grey Gardens (1976), The Producers: A Documentary is a poignant and excruciat­ingly honest film portrait of two old friends. Graeme and John, the original odd couple. We follow them around Sydney for a year, sharing their history of failed mar­riages, lost family fortunes and unique business ventures.

The pair plan to turn things around for themselves by becoming hot shot movie producers. Graeme's itch­ing to get going, but can't seem to get John to the type­writer to start the script. "It's all up here," says John, tapping his head. Practicalities like funding, scheduling and even some idea of what the film will be about com­pletely elude the pair.

Health, housing and financial problems send their plans off course and, in time, the film project is forgot­ten. New schemes are hatched, this time to make their fortune in a dodgy camel racing venture. Like a nutty Australian version of Ratso Rizzo and Joe Buck, John and Graeme play out a comical Midnight Cowboy sce­nario as their plans become wilder and more impracti­cal. Loaded with bathos, The Producers incorporates an intimate visual approach with a deep compassion for its subjects.

Within their unique friendship, the two pursue their dreams with a conviction that is constantly surprising and touching. Life has not turned out as they had imag­ined ... but there's always next weeks lottery draw.

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