SHOPKEEPERS (1999) [Feature]

Australia (MIFF 1999 , Australian Showcase)

From tatts to taffeta, from the kings of meat to meeting the King, Shopkeepers looks at the changing nature of service in a self-serve world. The film is a series of por­traits of seven Melbourne shopkeepers, and their busi­nesses. from the other side of the counter. A butcher's, a pawn shop, a frock shop, a milk bar. a barber, a super­market and a tattoo parlour—each segment acknowl­edge the historical significance of the shops, their ambience and place within the community.

Barrie and Bernie explores the working relationship of a father and son butchery team as they face the demise of their art. For Love or Money notes that in an era when credit is taken for granted, there are still those that fall through the cracks. Gowns by Le Louvre looks at an exclusive boutique, the last of its kind, at the Paris end of Collins Street. Miss Georgina Weir and her daughter cater to Melbourne's wealthy social set. In Milk Bar, a Chinese family who run a Footscray convenience store negotiate credit for regulars while under siege by a clientele of druggy desperados. Here life is lived between the rings at the door.

A rock & roll barber in Gertrude Street Fitzroy remembers a time, decades past, when a man would go to the same barber and get the same haircut every two weeks. Time and fashions have changed and left hair­dresser Arthur Koniaras with more time on his hands. The Man Who Cut Elvis Presley's Hair did just that back in the 60s and can always find the time to dance.

Signage delves into a world of sound through the life of Jodie, a deaf girl working at Safeway. In Under the Skin, tattooists create the indelible patterns of life and culture. From Celtic symbols to aircraft designs, these modern shamen work with ink and skin—is it art or empowerment?

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