The Balllad of Betty and Joe: gone to Sapporo

Two Australian shorts have been selected for the Sapporo International Short Film Festival in Japan. Besides The Ballad of Betty and Joe, My Rabit Hoppy is adding to the loopy charm.
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Two Australian shorts have been selected for the Sapporo International Short Film Festival in Japan. Besides The Ballad of Betty and Joe, My Rabit Hoppy is adding to the loopy charm.

The Ballad of Betty and Joe (Dir: Martha Ansara) continues its festival circuit as one of twenty-two short fiction films screening at the Sapporo International Short Film Festival, in early October. This year, two Australian films were selected for this prestigious Japanese showcase, the other being the Cannes-screener My Rabit Hoppy (Dir: Anthony Lucas). Sapporo, a festival associated with Europe’s Clermont-Ferrand, receives several thousand entries from around the world, from which 55 animations, documentaries and fiction shorts are presented to an international jury and to very large audiences.

The Ballad of Betty & Joe, described by film critic David Stratton as “totally charming, inventive and delightful”, is a modern silent comedy in the classic mould of innocence vs authority: Betty the busker plays her fiddle and dreams of fame and fortune; Joe the security guard dreams of earplugs he wants her off his beat!

The film features music by well-known film composer and “Queen of the Boogie Woogie” JAN PRESTON, and beautifully-judged performances from AFI Best Actress nominee ALICE ANSARA, currently a resident with the Sydney Theatre Company, and much-loved veteran TONY BARRY, (Sgt. Callaghan in Baz Lurhmann’s Australia). The film’s delightful 3-D animation was devised by newcomer GLENN HARRISON.

Making this small 12-minute film was, in fact, a surprisingly large undertaking, involving the efforts of nearly two hundred volunteer filmmakers, film students, actors and extras. The Australian Film Commission and the City of Sydney stepped in with the financial support necessary for its completion. For writer-producers Martha Ansara and Rivka Hartman, one of the many rewards of embarking on such a venture was the opportunity it gave to emerging filmmakers to work with some of the industry’s top professionals: cinematographers Hugh Miller and Tom Cowan, Editor Nick Meyers, Make-Up Artist Helen Evans, and Sound Guru Sam Petty. Although director Martha Ansara is well-known in documentary circles, The Ballad of Betty & Joe is her first short fiction.

Sydney audiences who missed the film at previous festivals will have a chance to see it in HD vision and 5.1 surround sound at the WOW Film Festival which runs from the 14th to 18th October 2009 at the Chauvel Cinema in Paddington.

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