Australia (MIFF 2017, Pioneering Women)

Director: Ana Kokkinos,Susan Lambert

Only the Brave
Australia 59 mins

Ana Kokkinos’ uncompromising debut feature still shocks with its tale of teenage girls dealing with their daily trauma via wild behaviour and pyromania. Winner of the 1994 Grand Prix for Best Film at the Melbourne International Film Festival and 1994 Erwin Rado for Best Australian Short film.

Alex and Vicki are best friends and the children of Greek migrants, living in the industrial fringe of suburban Melbourne. While Alex is well behaved and high achieving at school, she is more than eager to join outcast Vicki in after-school entertainment such as smoking, drinking and setting fire to abandoned houses. Together they plan to go to Sydney to look for Alex’s mother, who abandoned her daughter years ago.

The girls’ bond is so strong that it borders on romance, but when Alex witnesses a terrifying incident involving Vicki, the stage is set for an inferno that endangers them both.

With this film, Kokkinos announced herself as a bold new voice Australian cinema hadn’t seen before – the film won three AFI awards (including for Best Film and Best Script) – and she’s been jolting us ever since.

D Ana Kokkinos P Fiona Eagger S Ana Kokkinos and Mira Robertson PS National Film & Sound Archive TD 16mm/1994


On Guard
Australia 51 mins

Billed as a girls’ own adventure and made with mostly women behind the camera, On Guard is a feminist heist thriller starring Liddy Clark.

Set in Sydney, On Guard centres on four very different women who set out to sabotage the research program of global reproductive-engineering firm Utero. But when one of the women loses her diary containing the group’s plans, they begin to fear exposure. With tensions mounting, and the women’s lives as lovers, mothers and providers encroaching, the stage is set for an entertaining but serious-minded romp.

Directed on a shoestring by Susan Lambert, who went on to make acclaimed documentaries including Tokyo Bound: Bondage Mistresses of Japan (MIFF 2001) and Tyke Elephant Outlaw (MIFF 2015), On Guard features former politician and Play School presenter Liddy Clark, Legally Brown’s Alice Ansara in her first onscreen role, and 80s lesbian rocker Mystery Carnage, whose post-punk band Stray Dags also provided music for the film.

Winner of the award for Best Experimental and Creative Film at the 1984 San Francisco Film Festival.

'In the hands of a male script-writer and director, a film of this sort would emanate a familiar macho quality with loads of violence and probably a little sex to bring the action to the final caper … [On Guard] is something completely different.' – The Canberra Times

D Susan Lambert P Digby Duncan PS National Film & Sound Archive TD 16mm/1983

See also...


SATURDAY 29 JUL, 9.15PM - SOLD OUT ... WORLD PREMIERE ... Part mystery, part thriller, erotic and dream-like, this uncompromising work from filmmaker Ana Kokkinos is, in the director's own words, “not... More »


'For those of us willing to be challenged and excited, Blessed is another really fine Australian film ... it’s a searingly honest portrait of that most primal relationship – mothers and children. 4½ s... More »


A haunting and evocative tale about mothers and children, about being lost and finding your way home. ... Seven children from five different families wander the streets in an urban odyssey through a d... More »

Behind Closed Doors

A film about domestic violence. It questions the romanticized image of love and marriage and raises discussion of rape within marriage. ... More »


Alex and Vicki are wild girls, torching hedges, smoking dope and just hanging out, both in and out of school. Allegiance is owed to no one but each other and to a plan of escaping, going to Sydney and... More »


Nineteen year-old Ari (Alex Dimitriades) is obsessed with sex, drugs, his little sister's Lebanese boyfriend and his best friend's transvestite tendencies. Spread over an intense and eventful day, Hea... More »

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