Tag Archives: Australia

VIFF NAIDOC Film Festival Poster FINAL SML 2

AUSTRALIA’S FANFORCE TV TO PRESENT 2ND ANNUAL “VIRTUAL INDIGENOUS FILM FESTIVAL” NOV.11-15

Over the past 6 months of Covid quarantine and isolation here in Toronto, I’ve spent a lot of time online getting reacquainted with my homeland of Australia, its film and TV industry, its leading players and cultural ambassadors – yes, as you can already tell, I’m homesick and can’t wait to board a QANTAS jetliner and get my butt back Down Under. My quest for Aussie content took me to Amazon Prime, AcornTV and other streaming platforms, resulting in binge-watching shows like Water Rats, City Homicide, and the feature films and tv series of Mystery Road…the common thread being star Aaron Pedersen (pictured below) who has captured my heart and imagination. Behind-the-scenes-shot.-MYSTERY-ROAD-THE-SERIES.-Aaron-Pedersen.-Photo-John-Platt.36310144-e1526434876208The award-winning indigenous actor has led me to more in-depth research of the state-of-the-art for indigenous filmmakers, writers, directors and I was amazed at the depth of talent currently working in Australia. So why don’t we know about them up here in Canada and the U.S.? Lack of distribution deals? The assumption that other countries wouldn’t understand the specifics of cultural heritage and Aussie politics? I remember back in the 80s, Australia’s “new wave” of filmmaking ignited worldwide interest with such classics as My Brilliant Career, Picnic at Hanging Rock, Gallipoli (pictured below), Man From Snowy River, the int’l commercial hit Crocodile Dundee and TV mini-series such as The Thorn Birds that made Bryan Brown a huge int’l star. But these were all told by and for the “new” Australians, the white population. gallipoliI remember watching Walkabout (1975) featuring a young aboriginal actor, David Gulpilil, but his character sadly ended up rather badly. Where were all the positive cinematic images of indigenous actors and their stories?  Were there any indigenous actors or filmmakers? We never saw them on TV or in the cinemas. I’ve been away from home a long time and as I plan my return as soon as Covid allows, I’m comforted in the knowledge that this previous lack of inclusion is being addressed now thanks to the brilliance of directors such as Ivan Sen, Rachel Perkins, Wayne Blair and Warrick Thornton, and actors like Pedersen, Deborah Mailman, Ernie Dingo, and the now-legendary Gulpilil who remains a great presence on screen. I’m excited to be introduced to even more talent this coming week thanks to the 2nd annual Virtual Indigenous Film Festival and I encourage all film fans to join in online to celebrate the creativity and educational opportunities presented. Here’s all the info you need…..fanforceFANFORCE TV, the new Australian community-based streaming platform presents the second Virtual Indigenous Film Festival from the 11th of November till the 15th of November as part of NAIDOC* Week 2020. The festival will present award-winning Australian Indigenous films followed by live Q&A discussions and audience participation via Live Chat. *National Aborigines and Islanders Day Observance Committee (NAIDOC) Week events are held across Australia to celebrate the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. NAIDOC is celebrated not only in Indigenous communities, but by Australians from all walks of life. [#NAIDOC2020 #AlwaysWasAlwaysWillBe ]

FANFORCE TV is showcasing 5 virtual events including film screenings of In My Own Words, The Song Keepers, The Flood, Wik vs. Queensland and Westwind: Djalu’s Legacy.   The-Song-Keepers-Naidoc-Thumbnail In MY Own Words Westwind-Naidoc-Thumbnail Wik-Vs-Queensland-Naidoc-ThumbnailTickets for the individual virtual screening events are $6.99USD with an all access pass available for $19.99USD. For more information visit:  fanforcetv.com  
There is also an exciting lineup of guest speakers and expert panelists involved throughout the week including filmmakers’ Erica Glynn (In My Own Words), Naina Sen (The Song Keepers), Dean Gibson (Wik Vs Queensland), Victoria Wharfe Mcintyre (The Flood), Ben Strunin (Westwind) and Keri Tamwoy (Mayor of Aurukun). More guests to be announced!mma9255-stills-master_2 mma9288-stills-master_3FANFORCE TV uniquely enables audiences to ask questions and discuss topics in real time with the guest speakers and community leaders via live chat and live streaming features. “We are thrilled to have a special screening of The Flood as part of VIFF and NAIDOC Week” says Victoria Wharfe McIntyre, writer/director/producer of The Flood. “Our film was born from a unique collaboration and tells a highly emotive, provocative and revisionist story about our nation’s history, it is fitting to showcase the film in an equally unique way via Live-streaming with a public discussion. This Q&A will be cracker and we are looking forward to some passionate, hard hitting and insightful comments and questions from the audience.”The-Flood-Naidoc-Thumbnail THE FLOOD IMG_0349The Flood will follow its VIFF NAIDOC Premiere with Cinema screenings across Australia and New Zealand (and hopefully the rest of the world in early 2021). Dates to be announced shortly.

FANFORCE TV acknowledges and pays respect to the past, present and future Traditional Custodians and Elders of this nation and the continuation of cultural, spiritual and educational practices of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that this page may contain images or names of people who have passed away.

I encourage you all to expand your understanding of Australia – its people, its cultures, its history….and its inspiring Indigenous filmmaking community. naidoc-logo-300

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THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP IN TORONTO BRINGS “DOWN UNDER” FASHIONS & ACCESSORIES TO N. AMERICAN SHOPPERS

Many years ago, when jones’ing for a little taste of home, I found THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP at one of the big expos in Toronto and ever since then, I’ve been a fan as well as a customer.  Owner, JOHN KEATING (pictured below) has been carefully curating his catalogue of coats, jackets, hats and all sorts of other accessories and treats for the North American market for 40yrs and this year, due to Covid, has taken sales online.johnI recently spoke with John about the challenges of taking his business from the popular in-person sales booths at agricultural and downtown shows and expos, and he assured me that his Aussie products are still available and people can call to place orders, allowing him to chat with each purchaser and find exactly what they want or need. Contact details are at the end of this story.  I recently asked John a few questions about THE AUSTRALIAN SHOP and he kindly shared his story with me….

What inspired you to import the Australian-style clothing and accessories?  We were very inspired by the success of the Australian tourism campaigns in North America in the 80’s, probably due to the influx of Aussie films and the overwhelming popularity of Paul Hogan (Crocodile Dundee). It was very evident that people had become intrigued and aware of the practicality, quality and style of the authentic Aussie oilskin clothing which was well-suited to the N. American lifestyle and outdoor pastimes.croc dundeeWhen/where did you first open the Australian Shop as a bricks-and-mortar location and how do you manage sales now that you’re an online only store?  Our Australian clothing business started some 40 years ago, primarily frequenting various shows and exhibitions including provincial Highland Games, Border Collie dog shows, sheep shows, horse shows, The British Show, the Calgary Stampede, Spruce Meadows International Equestrian Show and the Canadian National Exhibition. Now, due to Covid, 2020 has seen a loss of public events so we’ve focused more on online sales which are progressing favourably.duooverlandDid movies like Crocodile Dundee and The Man From Snowy River (pictured below) from the 80’s help boost sales?  Sales were tremendously boosted once the Australian “new wave” of films hit North America. The Australian theme of the Canadian National Exhibition (the country’s annual expo of products and fun-fair held in Toronto) also did much to feature Down Under fashions, foods, lifestyles and tourism. They certainly highlighted the Akubra hats and oilskin coats.snowy river movieApart from clothing and hats, do you sell any other Aussie products? Currently, we have a great carry-all bag which is great for weekends or even daily work chores and laptops. Plus we are very proud to offer Aboriginal crafts such as boomerangs and didgeridoos, although we don’t offer lessons for those! One of the most famous and esteemed didge players is Indigenous musician David Hudson so you can search YouTube for his performances as well as lessons.7502-BRN-ONE_1-B (2)

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Do you sell and ship across Canada AND the U.S.?  Yes, we ship across Canada and the U.S., as well as overseas. Everything is based on weight and size of package. During Covid, deliveries may be slower than usual so if you’re buying as gifts, please allow enough time to arrive for that special day.

What do your find are the most popular items?  Our oilskin coats, jackets and vests are always the big sellers. The world-famous Akubra hats worn by many Aussie outback folks are always in demand, too.cowboy coat and hathats_akubra_snowyYour customers are not just horsey or farm folks, right? Urbanites who love the outdoor lifestyle also order from you and I guess dog-walkers are also frequent customers?  The outback or drover coats and jackets are always in style – something about the rugged image of the Aussie mate, be it a man or woman, is always an attractive factor. Businessmen and women can also be seen in downtown centres around the world in the fashionable and durable oilskin coats.

What’s so special about Australian oilskin clothing?  The oilskin material is produced in Australia. This increases the quality of the clothing. It’s a material that wears very well, is rain resistant and offers protection from the wind as well.  For many years, we sold the clothing at the annual Canadian National Exhibition and Royal Winter Fair here in Toronto as well as major dog and horse shows and rural exhibitions across Canada – we even journeyed to Scandinavia to showcase our clothing.short oilskin jktIf you’d like to learn more about The Australian Shop and see John’s full catalogue, visit the website: www.australian-shop.ca and you can follow the Facebook account: www.facebook.com/australianshopto  and Instagram:  @australianshopto

Thank you for supporting a Canadian small business!

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That’s not a hat, mate…THAT’s a hat!

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AUSTRALIAN AUTHOR CAPTURES OUTBACK TALE OF BETRAYAL AND REDEMPTION IN 1ST NOVEL “SPLINTERED HEART”

Over the past several months of Covid isolation and lack of film or tv production activity (i.e. potential clients), I’ve had lots of spare time to explore websites and news feeds from my homeland, Australia, and getting more and more homesick in the process. Thanks to viewing some fabulous films and TV shows on Aussie streaming platforms as well as Amazon Prime/Acorn TV,  I discovered Down Under’s favourite leading man, Aaron Pedersen (pictured below), star of Mystery Road the movie (featured at the 2013 Toronto Int’l Film Fest) and the subsequent TV series of the same name (the second series is currently airing in Canada on Acorn TV, part of the Amazon Prime service).pedersenHaving binge-watched 2 of his previous tv shows Water Rats (1996-2001) and City Homicide (2007 to 2011) and the Mystery Road movie sequel, Goldstone, I admit I’ve developed a huge crush on this handsome indigenous Aussie actor, so I joined a fun Facebook group made up of his most devoted fans, one of whom, Linda Dowling, is an award-winning successful author. Linda’s first 2 novels are currently available via Amazon Books, and I’m thoroughly engrossed in her first one, Splintered Heart, which takes place during the 60’s, an era when I myself was growing up in the bush just outside of Perth in Western Australia. So many references resonated with me but you don’t have to be an Aussie to fully appreciate the story, the heroine of the tale or the heat and vast emptiness of the outback. Dowling writes with great descriptive flair – I can almost hear the mournful call of the crows and feel the exhausting heat of the sun as I turn each page.new coverThis first book in Linda’s Red Dust series is set in the 1960s – teenager Lisa O’Connor is growing up in a brutal family environment living in the outskirts of Sydney, Australia. Abused and forsaken by those she should have been able to trust, Lisa is sent away to the notorious Parramatta Girls Home for ‘reform’ (this was, in fact, a real place which has thankfully since closed). While captive there, she experiences  the depths of human depravity and sinks even further into despair. Luckily for Lisa, she’s rescued from this abhorrent life by her childless aunt who takes her to live at a remote sheep station (i.e. big farm in the middle of nowhere) in outback New South Wales. Lisa finds herself in a world that is different to anything she has known before, and she falls in love with the homestead, the harsh outback landscape and the Aboriginal culture. With the help of her aunt and uncle, two female Aboriginal elders and Billy, a very special young Aboriginal man, Lisa’s splintered heart and broken spirit begin to mend.  Lisa’s determination and desire to overcome her horrific beginnings tell a saga unlike any other – both horrifying and inspiring, this is a book you won’t be able to put down.Linda DowlingThe award-winning, #1 bestselling author (pictured above) grew up in the Western suburbs of Sydney, Australia. During her childhood, Linda spent most of her time in rural areas and has continued to enjoy life in areas with natural surroundings. Her own aunt, a wonderful horsewoman, taught her a great deal about horses, riding and the outback and it was during her vacations with her aunt that Linda herself fell in love with the vast outback plains and the culture of the local indigenous population, their stories and their unique but simple way of living.  In her professional life, Linda has established and managed four medico-legal firms, including her own. During the course of her career, she has been involved in reporting on coroner-centric matters and inquests. She has also worked with the NSW Police State Crime Command Centre and in various Royal Commissions where she was exposed to the worst of human nature; she has drawn upon her professional and personal experiences while writing her Red Dust novel series, but the stories are a work of fiction and do not depict any person, living or dead.

Linda has already received many positive reviews and kudos direct from the readers, including:

A compelling read. Prepare to laugh and cry, this book will truly evoke a powerhouse of emotions. Steeped in culture perseverance and the unbreakable spirit of a young girl in 1960’s Australia.  Mary

I absolutely loved this book – an easy read that was hard to put down. A disturbing revelation into the brutal experiences occurring in the girls’ home in the 60’s and then a warming and uplifting transition to life in the outback and an interesting insight into our indigenous people. Looking forward to the next chapter.  Sandra

Wow! This book was an intense read. The author writes about the harshness of family life in general that many people living in Australia grew up in the 60’s thru 80’s can relate to. While the storyline itself was heart wrenching and a lot darker than anything I have experienced in my life, it left me thinking about the events affecting those in the book and the racism experienced by Aboriginals long after I had finished the book.  International Amazon CustomerIBA Book Award Finalist (3)

Splintered Heart is available in soft-cover and Kindle versions on Amazon so why not buy yourself a great gift for Christmas – order Linda’s book now!

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TONIGHT! Australian singer ALI HUGHES brings her “Leonard Cohen Koans” tribute concert to Toronto for 1 night only.

After 10 days of rehearsals, media interviews, celebrity schmoozing at a film festival and enjoying all the touristy stuff that Toronto has to offer, Aussie singer ALI HUGHES will take the stage tonight at Hugh’s Room to introduce her critically acclaimed 90-minute show featuring the songs and poetry of Canadian music icon, Leonard Cohen.ALI_271061685190_2452038624806523_1181734640604413952_nThe legendary singer/songwriter known for his sensual vocals left us nearly 3 years ago and Ali’s interpretations of songs such as Chelsea Hotel #2 and Suzanne will intrigue, engage and soothe the listener. Ali recently recorded a 4-song EP from the show with her long-time Aussie band (Ali & the Thieves) titled Tea & Oranges and these will be available for sale and autographing after the show tonight.20190527_132147 20190527_13215620190527_153559For the past 2 nights, Ali has performed at Hugh’s Room, opening for friend and fellow singer, Jane Siberry (below L) for whom she has sung back-up on Jane’s tours. Tonight, Jane graciously presents “Leonard Cohen Koans” and Ali Hughes who takes centre stage.with Jane SNBA finalists The Raptors may be playing on home court tonight but if you’d rather experience this tribute to one of Canada’s greatest artists by one of Australia’s most unique performers, we look forward to welcoming you….

Hugh’s Room is located at  2261 Dundas St. West (416-533-5483). Show starts 8:30pm
Tickets available at the door $45.00 (come early to ensure best seats)AliHughes-Triad1128181(42)__.jpg

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FAREWELL TO THE KING…OF CRICKET!

I’m heartbroken….my sports hero has retired from international tournaments and I doubt I will get the chance to ever see him play in person.  Kumar Sangakkara, the legendary Sri Lankan wicket-keeper and batsman has become one of the greatest ambassadors of cricket, a sport most North Americans don’t understand or sadly don’t even care about. So please consider this fan-girl blog a quickee intro to Cricket and to one of its most exciting players ever to take the field.

000_DV1762576Cricket is a team sport played in countries that were once part of the British Commonwealth including Australia, South Africa, the West Indies, New Zealand, Zimbabwe, India…and Sri Lanka, and it’s faster than baseball. And as a female fan with a healthy respect for sports machismo, it has some of the sexiest and handsome players – you can actually see what they look like which makes watching them run, catch, bat and bend over so much more enjoyable, especially watching Sanga on TV!!!

thCAX132AZ 2014 SangaKS4But regardless of my hormonal reactions to the man (!), Sangakkara has brought a new level of skill, passion and commitment to the game and he has become a role model for millions of young men and women around the world who play & love cricket. He’s been the ultimate team player for his country’s national team, as well as his regular season team(s) – I remember watching him play for Sunrisers Hyderabad (part of the Indian Premier League, or IPL) a couple of season’s ago, where he played with such determination and flair. (below)

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This month, during the ICC World Cup of Cricket tournament played in Australia and New Zealand, I’ve watched Sanga play the matches of his life batting 4 back-to-back centuries (100 runs) and taking countless wickets against opposing teams, setting both batting and wicket-keeping records. The quarter-final game between Sri Lanka and South Africa was expected to result in more glory for the SL team and Sanga, but the fates dealt a cruel blow and the Sri Lankans couldn’t get their gears in motion – they went down ingloriously to the underdog Proteas team (SA). But the South African players, the crowds in the stands, the media and his teammates cheered as Sanga and his best mate and fellow SL player, Mahela Jayawardene, who also chose the World Cup to retire from competitive cricket, left the field.

10996384_10153110462542114_2136538099059404616_n18TH_SANGAKKARA_2345174f10659414_10153110437882114_4730005518579715330_nI watched the match live on the internet then again on TV when the highlights were played back late last night.  I can’t imagine watching cricket now without seeing my Sanga, but he took to social media to share his feelings and thank the fans:

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Hi Everyone – I just wanted to say thank you for all your messages of support during the World Cup. We are all disappointed with the loss to South Africa. We played poorly and South Africa were deserved winners. Strange to wake-up this morning as a former ODI cricketer, but it’s been a great honour and privilege playing for Sri Lanka during the past 15 years. At the end of the day, I am very fortunate to have enjoyed a long career playing with and against some great players. Thanks for all the encouragement and support over the years. Cheers, Sanga
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590_Del6232270Having retired from the T20 International tournaments after Sri Lanka’s exciting WT20 win last year, Sangakkara is expected to play his final Test series against India in August, after which he will retire from all forms of international cricket. So we’ll have just one more brief opportunity to see Kumar in action, and although he encourages his fans to look to the future and not dwell on his departure, I know we all feel the same: farewell to the King…long live the King!

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