Fred Schepisi Dossier

Fred Schepisi has been writing, directing and producing films in Australia, America and Britain since the 1960s. Initially working in advertising before joining the Melbourne branch of Cinesound in 1963, Schepisi is amongst the most important and celebrated directors Australia has produced. Along with Peter Weir, Gillian Armstrong, Phillip Noyce, and Bruce Beresford, Schepisi was a key figure in the renaissance of the Australian film industry in the 1970s, making the acclaimed features The Devil’s Playground (1976), a semi-autobiographical account of adolescent life in a religious boarding school, and The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith (1978), based on Thomas Keneally’s novel. After the impact of these two features (the latter screening at Cannes and championed by such critics as Pauline Kael), Schepisi moved on to directing films overseas, including such varied works as Barbarosa (1982), Plenty (1985), Roxanne (1987), The Russia House (1990), Six Degrees of Separation (1993), Last Orders (2001) and the HBO-financed Empire Falls (2005), which won a Golden Globe for Best Mini-Series or Motion Picture made for Television. In 2011 he returned to filmmaking in Australia – after over 20 years – to direct an adaptation of Patrick White’s 1973 novel The Eye of the Storm. This tribute to Schepisi’s important contribution as an Australian and international filmmaker, a distinctive auteur and jobbing filmmaker, covers his early work in documentary (his fascinating short on The Age newspaper, People Make Papers), the mercurial critical reception of his groundbreaking opus The Chant of Jimmie Blacksmith, the representation of landscape across his first three Australian features (specifically in the partisan and compassionate Evil Angels, 1988), his initial project in the United States (the elemental and mythic Western, Barbarosa), the now iconic Six Degrees of Separation, and the importance of adaptation and collaboration across his cinema. This dossier marks the Australian release of Schepisi’s latest film, and features an illuminating interview with the director as well as an in-depth discussion of his adaptation of White’s novel.

Across the Borderline

Barbarosa (1982) was the first feature to be made in America by any of the key figures of the Australian film “renaissance” of the 1970s. It sits alongside the initial American films of Gillian Armstrong, Bruce...
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People Make Papers

People Make Papers (1965 Australia 16 mins) Source: ACMI Collections Prod Co: Cinesound Productions Dir: Fred Schepisi Phot: Peter Purvis Ed: Brian Kavanagh The very fact this 16-minute documentary is cal...