Directors

14 Cheerful Secrets You Did Not Know About Peter Weir

1. He played a leading role in the Australian New Wave cinema .

2. After the success of The Year of Living Dangerously, Weir directed a diverse group of American and international films—many of them major box office hits—including the Academy Award nominated films such as the thriller Witness .

3. His interest in film was sparked by his meeting with fellow students, including Phillip Noyce and the future members of the Sydney filmmaking collective Ubu Films.

4. After leaving university in the mid-1960s he joined Sydney television station ATN-7, where he worked as a production assistant on the groundbreaking satirical comedy program The Mavis Bramston Show.

5. Weir then took up a position with the Commonwealth Film Unit , for which he made several documentaries, including a short documentary about an underprivileged outer Sydney suburb, Whatever Happened to Green Valley, in which residents were invited to make their own film segments.

6. Another notable film in this period was the short rock music performance film Three Directions In Australian Pop Music , which featured in-concert colour footage of three of the most significant Melbourne rock acts of the period, Spectrum, The Captain Matchbox Whoopee Band and Wendy Saddington.

7. After leaving the CFU, Weir made his first major independent film, the short feature Homesdale , an offbeat black comedy which co-starred rising young actress Kate Fitzpatrick and musician and comedian Grahame Bond, who came to fame in 1972 as the star of The Aunty Jack Show; Weir also played a small role, but this was to be his last significant screen appearance.

8. It was a minor success in cinemas but proved very popular on the then-thriving drive-in circuit.

9. Widely credited as a key work in the “Australian film renaissance” of the mid-1970s, Picnic was the first Australian film of its era to gain both critical praise and be given substantial international theatrical releases.

10. It also helped launch the career of internationally renowned Australian cinematographer Russell Boyd.

11. It was widely acclaimed by critics, many of whom praised it as a welcome antidote to the so-called “ocker film” genre, typified by The Adventures of Barry McKenzie and Alvin Purple.

12. It starred the American actor Richard Chamberlain, who was well-known to Australian and world audiences as the eponymous physician in the popular Dr. Kildare TV series, and would later star in the Australian-set major series The Thorn Birds.

13. The Last Wave was a pensive, ambivalent work that expanded on themes from Picnic, exploring the interactions between the native Aboriginal and European cultures.

14. It co-starred the aboriginal actor David Gulpilil, whose performance won the Golden Ibex at the Tehran International Festival in 1977, but it was only a moderate commercial success at the time.

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