News in Brief: Three Australian films for SXSW, ACMI opens, and conferences get set to go

Leah Purcell's The Drover's Wife will world premiere at SXSW, along with Gracie Otto's music doc Under the Volcano. There are festivals, conferences, tributes and more in our snappy fortnightly wrap.


  • Three Australian films have been selected to screen as part of the South by South West (SXSW) Festival which will screen virtually March 16 – 20 2021.
  • Leah Purcell’s debut feature film The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson will have its world premiere in the Narrative Spotlight section, while director Gracie Otto and producer Cody Greenwood’s feature documentary about the creative process of some of the world’s most iconic recording artists, Under The Volcanowill premiere in the 24 Beats Per Second music section.
  • John Bell’s horror short film The Moogai is also screening as part of the line-up, having already won acclaim, including the Erwin Rado Award for Best Audience Short Film at MIFF 2020. The music clip for Julia Stone’s Break, directed by Jessie Hill, has also been selected to screen in the Music Video Competition section.
  • The Drover’s Wife: The Legend of Molly Johnson is the feature adaptation of Purcell’s hugely successful stage play, which won AWGIE and Helpmann Awards and is a reimagining of Henry Lawson’s short story. This is one of the year’s most highly anticipated Australian features. Purcell is powerhouse in everything she does. She wrote the screenplay, directed the film and also stars in the lead role. The film is produced by Bain Stewart for Oombarra Productions and David Jowsey, Angela Littlejohn and Greer Simpkin for Bunya Productions. Roadshow Films will distribute in Australia and New Zealand later this year, with Memento Films International handling international sales.   

ACMI opens up refreshed

  • Rebooting the museum of the moving image. As of 11 February the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is open for visits after closing for a major make-over.
  • A fresh approach to its collection and exhibition spaces includes a new centrepiece exhibition ‘The Story of the Moving Image’ and the introduction of the ‘Lens’, a free tool for visitors to collect their favourite objects, artworks and creations in the exhibition. It’s intended to keep us off our phones.
  • Also at ACMI now until 30 May, the exhibition ‘Gabriella Hirst: Darling Darling’, a two-channel video art piece presenting contrasting visions of the Barka Darling River in dialogue.
  • In ACMI’s cinemas, film lovers will go crazy for the program of films: ‘Love and Neon: The Cinema of Wong Kar Wai’ (screening until 27 Feb).

Read: Wong Kar Wai’s School for Cool by Adrian Martin  

Screen Forever Online

  • Screen Forever 16 – 18 February 2021. Three days, 40 sessions and 120 speakers. The annual screen conference and marketplace has been digitally reimagined and anyone who’s anyone in the industry will be online next week for the most accessible though potentially sober event ever.
  • The program is sorted into three tracks this year: Business, Content and Future Proof. 
  • Screenhub will be bringing you stories, interviews and observations from the event. Make sure you’re following us on Twitter and Instagram.
  • Recently announced additions to the program include: William Horberg, Executive Producer of hit Netflix miniseries The Queen’s Gambit; and Montreal-based Reflector Entertainment, whose creatives will be talking about their first original storyworld, Unknown 9.

Read: Ones to Watch 2020: Twelve Emerging Producers You Need to Know About.

Australian International Documentary Conference

Film Festivals

Box Office

  • Is The Dry turning Eric Bana into a cinema legend? Audiences are still pouring in to see The Dry, despite more recent temptations.
  • Australian films out now include Penguin Bloom, Operation Rainfall, High Ground and Wild Things. Opening today (11 Feb) they include Long Story Short and Unsound.

Moves & Shakes

  • Regional screen organisation Screenworks has a new Industry Development Manager, Jeanie Davison, who replaces Lisa O’Meara, who spent nearly 12 years building up the key body. Davison was previously at Screen Australia managing the Documentary Development slate as Investment/Development Manager since mid-2018.
  • Lisa O’Meara is now in the newly created position of National Manager Careers & Enterprise at SAE Creative Media Institute. 
  • The South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) has its second annual Stakeholder Survey, designed to source feedback from South Australia’s screen sector on the SAFC, its activities, facilities and operations. All members of the South Australian screen sector are invited to take part in the 10 minute anonymous and confidential survey, which is open until 11.59pm ACDT on Sunday 21 February, 2021.


  • Vale Virginia Fraser. Melbourne artist Virginia Fraser is well remembered for her photo media works, her spirit to collaborate, advocacy for women artists and her sensitivity when writing about others. She leaves an important legacy.
  • Vale Lesley Stern. ‘An incomparable deflator of male egos and fantasies’, Lesley Stern’s vivid intellect made a big mark on the Australian film scene of the 80s and 90s. Remembering his own bumpy encounter, Adrian Martin expresses enduring admiration.


Features and Opinions

  • Euro-success for ultra-indy Friends and Strangers. While most screen creators fight for a piece of the mainstream pie, true indies can be rewarded for their insane commitment to high art, to our delight. An interview with director and producer James Vaughan and Lucy Rennick.
  • Dear White Screen Industry… Championing diversity without dismantling institutional racism is like putting up a ‘safe to dive’ sign without doing any work to deepen the pool, writes Katrina Irawati Graham.
  • Video pins the attack on the ABC in one single story. GetUp has made a half hour program about the attacks on the ABC. It is smart, and gripping and will get you in the feels.

Fresh Reviews

Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram