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Riding The Weir Wave


You cannot talk about world cinema of the 1970s and 1980s without mentioning (and lionizing) the name of Peter Weir. A key innovator of the Australian New Wave of those decades, and one of the few who made major successes in both his native land and in the wilds of Hollywood, Peter Weir is being celebrated this weekend at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, with a showcasing of some of his most important works and a preview screening of his latest film.

From the outback of his native Australia to the Amish country of rural Pennsylvania, and from Indonesia on the brink of revolution to the perilous peaks of the Himalayas, six-time Oscar nominee Peter Weir is the modern cinema’s tireless explorer of inhospitable landscapes. He has always been fascinated by strangers in strange lands and by those experiences that test our physical, emotional and psychological limits.


The series includes Weir's debut THE CARS THAT ATE PARIS (1974), a wickedly funny, wildly imaginative "b film" about a village plagued by suspicious road accidents. The film was a hit in his native Oz and was a cult favorite playing the "midnight movie" circuit in North America and Europe. He established his international reputation with two Aussie films that have become classics.....PICNIC AT HANGING ROCK (1975), an eery psychological drama about a school trip gone bad, and THE LAST WAVE (1977), a prescient eco-thriller starring Richard Chamberlain that looked at the tensions between the native aborigines and the English settlers that play havoc with the balance of energy in the physical world. The series also includes a rare screening of THE PLUMBER (1979), a wicked satire on academia that offers a telling portrait of class tensions and aspirations in contemporary Australian society.


His breakout film was another Aussie story that also introduced the century's most successful Australia-born actor. GALLIPOLI (1981), a harrowing anti-war drama set during the disasterous British/Turkey conflict of 1915, where whole regiments were used as cannon fodder. The film not only enlightened the public about a little-known war crime but also introduced the charismatic Mel Gibson (long before his drunken outbursts) as a major new star.  The director's major films of the 1980s (the Indonesia-on-the-brink-of-revolution drama THE YEAR OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY; the Oscar-nominated WITNESS starring Harrison Ford; and THE MOSQUITO COAST, an adaptation of the iconoclastic Paul Theroux novel) and the underrated 1991 metaphysical drama FEARLESS (with terrific performances by Jeff Bridges and Rosie Perez) are amongst the pleasures of the weekend series that concludes on Sunday.


A highlight will be the sneak preview screening tonight of THE WAY BACK, the latest film from the master director. Inspired by the true story of seven prisoners who escaped from a Siberian gulag in 1940 and walked towards their freedom in India, Weir’s first film in seven years is a breathtaking widescreen adventure in the grand tradition of David Lean. Featuring stellar cast that includes Colin Farrell, Ed Harris and Saoirse Ronan, the film is a visceral drama of survival that had its world premiere at the Telluride Film Festival in September. The director will be present for question-and-answer session and will also grace the stage of the Walter Reade Theater on Saturday evening for "An Evening With Peter Weir", featuring a dialogue with film critic and Film Society programmer Scott Foundas, along with a generous selection of choice clips from the director's career. We ride the Weir wave this weekend........

For more information, visit: 

Sandy Mandelberger, Film New York Editor


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Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)

The Ultimate Guide to the New York Film, Video and New Media Scene.

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