My 2022 highlights:
Remedial work on both balconies and re-cladding on some external panels at home continued and is now mostly completed. Hopefully I’ll regain access to the balconies soon. Then, I’ll replace the carpet that regularly flooded in the spare bedroom and buy a new sofa bed for guests. All up this has only taken twice as long as building the Golden Gate Bridge.
With air fares remaining ridiculous, I stayed here in Oz and spent more money on Leica camera gear. My first trip away (by car) was to Lorne via Albury in March. While down there I also visited Port Campbell with Gary and friends (Judith & Stephen) to see the Twelve Apostles, Loch Ard Gorge, the Bay of Islands and the Californian Redwood plantation in the Great Otway National Park. Judith is another keen photographer, so we had a great time together as there was so much to see and capture. Gary and I also had what was to be our last meal with my former partner Kenneth at Coda Lorne. Sadly, Kenneth was to take his life soon after this in April. As an artist, he really was a victim of the pandemic as so many doors closed for him.
Various visits to my dentist continued when home again for two crowns and an implant. Ugh.
On a happier note, our swim group was socially more active with regular Friday afternoon drinks and several nights out for trivia and bingo at various venues. We also had a great time at Howard’s 70th in October.
I made a brief visit to Canberra mid-year to attend a small wake with some close friends of Kenneth (Mary, Karen & Bruce) and to see Catherine Rogers’ brilliant photographic survey at ANU Drill Hall Gallery. I also caught up with Paulie and Ness a couple of times. Catherine has generously and patiently provided me with a great deal of advice regarding fine art photography printing and I’m finally getting the hang of it, thanks to actually following her advice.
My year as a Hawthorn FC member was full of more losses than wins, but I did enjoy a couple of trips to Wollongong in September to see and photograph the ITT and Men’s Elite Road Race in the UCI Road World Championships. (You can view many photos in previous posts.)
I rounded out the year with another trip down to Lorne, not just to swim in the really cold southern waters, but to help Gary clean out Kenneth’s car. That was pretty hard emotionally. On return to Sydney I was able to safely send Kenneth’s laptop to Tommi in Switzerland, as he wished, and that was a relief.
I subscribed again to the Australian Chamber Orchestra for 2023, having enjoyed the 2022 season. I must be well into my third decade of subscribing now, having started in Canberra many years ago.
Greg and I managed to catch up a couple of times with my cousins Philip & Ros and Helen & Terry at the Patonga Boathouse.
Other than all of that, my mad obsession with listening to podcasts continued and I may do a short post reviewing my annual listening soon. I also continued reading each day (on my Kindle) and that will be the subject another post coming soon. Hopefully I can find some affordable overseas air fares to jazz up 2023!
GLAM Sector Conferences in Australia
Here are my thoughts on GLAM sector collaboration and conferences in Australia. Firstly, we should stop having so many library “conferences” every six months. There just isn’t enough interesting, new or relevant material to justify participation.
Maybe we should consider having one major library conference (run by either VALA or ALIA, or both) every second year and on the other years we get the whole GLAM sector together and ALIA, MA, ASA and anyone else (like CAUL, NSLA, etc.) cooperate to run the one Australian GLAM conference. I’ve said this for years and nobody listens. It would be a useful first step in learning from each other, collaborating and maybe even starting to have one united voice for the impact of culture in our society. Who knows, perhaps we could even make major progress on a digital strategy for the whole sector?
Teenage Kicks – review #sydfilmfest @TeenageKicksMov
Teenage Kicks is probably the best made and most memorable queer movie that I’ve seen in a long time. I’m not saying this because it comes from Australia. I didn’t like the film Holding the Man at all. It just didn’t do the book any justice. Writer/Director Craig Boreham’s film is very well put together. It is an ambitious and complex story that is very well told.
The beautiful and very talented Miles Szanto stars as Miklós Varga a young man from a migrant family who thinks he is in love with his best friend Dan (Daniel Webber). Mik is also carrying around the guilt associated with the recent death of his brother Tomi (Nadim Kobeissi) and even more baggage from a complex family history. His mate Dan has just found a girlfriend and this greatly disappoints Mik because he was hoping to escape to the North soon with Dan and their surfboards.
Mik, however, faces even more complex challenges as he starts to develop his own sexual identity. There is Dan’s new girlfriend Phaedra (Charlotte Best) who confronts him about his love for Dan and then tempts him in a park. Tomi’s very pregnant partner Annuska (Shari Sebbens) seems to transfer her affection and love to Mik, and Shari Sebbens portrays this with much skill and sensitivity. Then the many issues he is dealing with come to a head when he almost drowns in a pool at Phaedra’s home but he is saved by Dan who later rejects Mik’s drunken confession of his love very violently. As he starts to burn some bridges to his family and friends, Mik explores his gay sexuality, with some gay web-cam boys he meets in Kings Cross and a blow-job in a park from Sam (played by the gorgeously sensual Joshua Longhurst). More dangerously, he also experiments with some strong drugs. It all looks to be heading towards an inevitable cluster-fuck …
The acting is all very good, particularly from Miles Szanto who does carry the major load. Mik’s character is a very challenging role and it could easily have been either over-played, stilted or degenerated into that of a good looking soap opera character. Along with this, there is some beautiful cinematography of Sydney’s stunning southern coastline and of some close and genuinely tender moments between Mik and several other cast members.
I have just the one criticism of the film. I didn’t find Miles convincing as a teenager, let alone as a school aged boy. The actor is actually 24. I don’t think the film needed Mik to be a teenager or at school and it isn’t a critical element of the story. One’s sexual immaturity isn’t limited to defined by a school uniform. Mine certainly wasn’t. And even today I think that accepting one’s queer identity can take a lot longer than your experience at school.
What is great about this film, especially for queer youth, is that ultimately Mik isn’t doomed by some poor choices, nor consumed by his perception of guilt over his brother’s death. He proves to be resilient to the brutality he suffers, retains his tender loving nature, doesn’t burn all his bridges before him and then gets on with his life. Hopefully he hooks up again with Sam, but maybe that is just me dreaming.
A memorable and enjoyable queer film about choices, love and hope.
My Bruce McAvaney Specialness Rating*: 4/5 (Most people would think this to be special.)
Fell – Review
Yet another film that I really wanted to like. It is visually really beautiful and mostly set in old-growth natural forests somewhere in Australia. The sound is also spectacular, particularly the sad cries of giant falling trees. The acting too is good, but it really needs more of a story-line and some well-written dialogue to carry it along.
It none too subtly reminds us of the tragic loss of our old-growth forests to wood-chipping and it is also about grief, loss, self-indulgence, fatherhood and a path towards vengeance. Much of the film is spent along that same path and I liked the first couple of times the director seemed to set up a situation in which vengeance may have been had and then pulls away from it. Eventually though, it became repetitive. We’d already learned enough about both lead characters and something else needed to happen, if only to maintain our interest in the story. That has been more than adequately demonstrated in at least three other films that I’ve seen in this festival. This film, however, just became a bit self-indulgent.
Not enough dialogue or story. 3/5