A Few Best Men director slams film critic at AACTA awards

Director Stephan Elliott took the opportunity to deliver a serve to film critic Jim Schembri at the inaugural AACTA awards at the Sydney Opera House last night. Elliott bit back at Schembri’s review of A Few Best Men, which branded the film ‘unreleasable’. Despite Schembri’s review, the film opened with solid box office takings last weekend. In a lengthy rant, Elliott slammed Schembri for “personal attacks” within the review of the film as he lashed out at people unwilling to support the Australian film industry. Elliott told the audience that his tirade would be removed from Channel Nine’s delayed broadcast of the awards as producers had flagged this, along with several other categories, to be excluded prior to the show.

The AACTA ceremony, delivered minus a host, saw box office champion Red Dog take home the best film award but the biggest success of the night was dark drama Snowtown which bagged four awards including best adapted screenplay and best direction.

The full list of AACTA award winners:

TELEVISION

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST YOUNG ACTOR

•    Lara Robinson. Cloudstreet – Part 1. FOXTEL – Showcase

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION DRAMA SERIES

•    East West 101, Season 3 – The Heroes’ Journey. Steve Knapman, Kris Wyld. SBS

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST TELEFEATURE, MINI SERIES OR SHORT RUN SERIES

•    The Slap. Tony Ayres, Helen Bowden, Michael McMahon. ABC1

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LIGHT ENTERTAINMENT TELEVISION SERIES

•    The Gruen Transfer, Series 4. Andrew Denton, Anita Jacoby, Jon Casimir. ABC1

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION IN TELEVISION

•    The Slap – Episode 3 ‘Harry’. Matthew Saville. ABC1

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SCREENPLAY IN TELEVISION

•    The Slap – Episode 3 ‘Harry’. Brendan Cowell. ABC1

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

•    Alex Dimitriades. The Slap. ABC1

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

•    Sarah Snook. Sisters Of War. ABC1

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTOR IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

•    Richard Cawthorne. Killing Time – Episode 2. FOXTEL – TV1

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST GUEST OR SUPPORTING ACTRESS IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

•    Diana Glenn. The Slap – Episode 3 ‘Harry’. ABC1

SWITCHED ON AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST TELEVISION PROGRAM

•    Packed To The Rafters. Seven Network

SWITCHED ON AUDIENCE CHOICE AWARD FOR BEST PERFORMANCE IN A TELEVISION DRAMA

•    Asher Keddie. Paper Giants: The Birth Of Cleo. ABC1

FEATURE FILM

SAMSUNG AACTA AWARD FOR BEST FILM

•    RED DOG. Nelson Woss, Julie Ryan.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST DIRECTION

•    Snowtown. Justin Kurzel.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ORIGINAL SCREENPLAY

•    Griff The Invisible. Leon Ford.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST ADAPTED SCREENPLAY

•    Snowtown. Shaun Grant.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTOR

•    Daniel Henshall. Snowtown.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST LEAD ACTRESS

•    Judy Davis. The Eye Of The Storm.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTOR

•    Hugo Weaving. Oranges And Sunshine.

AACTA AWARD FOR BEST SUPPORTING ACTRESS

•    Louise Harris. Snowtown.

Comments


  1. Doug
    1 Feb 12
    9:36 am

  2. That makes it x 2 for old Jim Schembri taking a pasting at an award ceremony. All I can say is if you are using the podium at an awards ceremony to bash a film critic and take a swipe at those who you think don’t support the local industry or your cinematic vision you are either utterly deluded or extremely insecure about the film you are pushing out into the world. Here’s the heads up “if you take public money and make a stinker, then expect a certain level of heat and local criticism, it is after all OUR money, not YOURS..OURS and we would all like to see a local industry making films that challenge, provoke and entertain”. Stephen the reviews are pretty universal on the film.. so soak it up. You know it’s a tough industry and you need a thick hide, you’ve been down this road before. Its not that people are unwillingly to support the local industry (we just gave you some cash to make the film in question didn’t we?), we are just fed up with the “old guard” consistently being given public funds to make films that fail to simply provoke, challenge and entertain. There are so many emerging talented filmmakers coming through the ranks..they also need to be given some support..the current funding for emerging filmmakers is utterly pathetic, cynical even, right across every state and at the federal level..you can bitch and moan all you want Stephen, at least you’ve made a few features, with the current funding strategies in place, realistically most of us won’t have that chance, most of us won’t have careers as filmmakers, most of us will give up and resign ourselves to failure. So to rant and rave about a review you thought was extreme..just exposes a level of disconnect that has been entrenched in this industry for decades, the kind of deluded and arrogant disconnect that is ruining the careers of emerging filmmakers as we waste yet more public money on films that fail to find an audience.

    Variety review: “the kind of bottom-feeding yuckfest where a character’s slip in dog poo within the first minutes sets the tenor for the next 90 or so. Admittedly, that makes it no dumberer than many recent mainstream comedies. But without their star power, this tale of immature Englishmen mucking up a high-toned Aussie wedding looks destined primarily for home formats beyond Oz and the U.K.”

    Heaven forbid the Americans aren’t supporting our industry either…the horror the horror..

  3. Doug
    1 Feb 12
    2:49 pm

  4. Sorry I meant “Stephan”

  5. KB Barker
    1 Feb 12
    4:32 pm

  6. “Elliott predicted that his tirade would be removed from Channel Nine’s delayed broadcast of the awards and producers of the show opted to remove Elliott entirely from the program.”

    I worked on the show and I just want to clarify that the segment was designated – long in advance and before Stephan was booked – as “Off Air.” There were three such segments in the show, with recaps prepared to acknowledge the winners from “earlier tonight.” I’m sure you know this is standard practice for televised awards ceremonies.

    So you could say the producers “opted” to remove the segment, but it’s worth noting that the opting was done well in advance.

  7. geeze,it wasn't that bad
    1 Feb 12
    7:43 pm

  8. Schrembri has form on this and he would be advised of not leaving abusive messages on home phone numbers for others to get very upset about. also look at some of the tripe he has championed.
    Jim really should either go out and try to make a film or learn about film making at least,fairfax need to keep an eye on him.

  9. Doug
    2 Feb 12
    9:28 am

  10. I think Jim knows he isn’t a filmmaker and is very aware he is a reviewer, making films isn’t easy, part of that process is being responsible for the end product. Jim’s review isn’t the only one floating around that is on the negative side. I think some filmmakers need to keep an eye on the fact that comedy might be the genre they might need to do some homework on, or just stay away from it all together. Nobody is doubting Stephan’s ability as a director…he is talented, but comedy, a very hard genre to master simply might not be his gig.

  11. Dean
    2 Feb 12
    1:35 pm

  12. Australian film reviewers are quite harsh on Aussie films – there are countless examples of this. In fact the critics at “The Australian” are just about the worst, giving nasty reviews of local films (unless of course they get nominated for a film festival, in which case they love them). EMPIRE also don’t support Aussie films. I read a bunch of reviews in the November issue and they absolutely slammed just about every Aussie film, giving them 1 or 2 stars out of 5. No, they don’t have to falsely gush about Aussie films, but they should understand that Oz films are made with considerably less resources and support than most of the overseas films that get released here and should be treated with a bit more respect.

    Tall poppy syndrome? Failed movie-makers turned critics? I don’t know for sure what this is about, but I see it happen time and time again.

  13. Conno
    2 Feb 12
    2:04 pm

  14. Well said, Doug. Jim might not make perfect calls all the time, but the point is – he has a pretty good opinion, and for someone like Stephan Elliott to bag the shit out of him says that Elliott is completely insecure. After all, if Schembri were irrelevant, then why should he get upset over one of his reviews?

  15. Roger
    2 Feb 12
    3:26 pm

  16. Stephan’s rant was disrespectful to those four writers nominated for the catagory he was presenting. It was THEIR moment not his and as a result of his grandstanding the winners speech was removed from the program also. If in fact, as KB Barker suggests, that Channel 9 decided to cut this segment prior to Stephan’s childish ramblings then it is the programmers who should offer an apology to the Snowtown writer for deciding to remove his moment so that they could squeeze in another 90 seconds of the Richard Wilkins Variety hour.

  17. Mike
    3 Feb 12
    4:44 pm

  18. Fair comment about the “off air” segment and it not being censored – but Nine really has lost the plot on this one.
    That’s EXACTLY what audiences want to see – a bit of verbal biffo, and bit of controversy, a bit of fun.
    Must everything these days be pasteurised, filtered into total blandness?
    A savvy producer and network would have scooped that segment up and inserted it as a ‘best of the rest’ sequence, to trigger conversations and replays.
    We’re becoming more like middle America every day…

  19. richard moss
    4 Feb 12
    9:08 am

  20. I can add nothing to this except for my support.
    As an artist, this kind of thing must be beneath you. The critic is out there doing his/her job just like the rest of us.

    The critics do not make or break a work of art, the public either likes it or they reject it, if they like it a lot, then we are all happy. I would have abandoned the stage 42 years ago if I had taken to heart what critics have to say .

    Having said this, if all the critics are saying the same thing, THEN you take them to heart.

  21. Jim
    4 Feb 12
    3:27 pm

  22. @Geeze..yeah Schembri has form alright, he championed “The Jammed” when nobody else would and helped that film get a much bigger profile.
    http://www.theage.com.au/artic.....35416.html
    http://www.theage.com.au/news/.....38371.html
    I also agree with Roger, Elliot’s rant was disrespectful to the four nominated writers. Why choose an awards night to have a dig at a film critic, pull out your phone Elliot and stick your rant up on Youtube..you’d get more of an audience, at least he went one better than “Jimmy Jack The Exploder”(WTF??) effort in 2008, who simply said “F#@K you Schembri”..pure class Jimmy.

  23. Rob
    4 Feb 12
    3:34 pm

  24. Who called Schrembri a reviewer? [comment moderated for legal reasons]. That wasn’t a review of A FEW BEST MEN, it was just a bitter tirade proven wrong by its first word. Didn’t you hear the audience laughing, Jim? I certainly did. Go and learn how to review movies, or anything.

  25. John
    5 Feb 12
    1:51 am

  26. With regards to stephan elliot’s supposed tirade,well 2 points –
    Point 1 Why shouldn’t he respond to an attack by a critic.If a critic can dish it out then he should expect to get a response!

    Point 2 – People should ignore critics anyway,films are made for the greater viewing public,not critics.Yes i’ve seen a couple of not so good reviews of ” a few best men”,but most reviews i’ve seen have been pretty good,with ratings of 8/10 and 3 out of 5 stars. Regardless of what some critics opine,the fact is the movie is doing ok at the box office which should make elliott happy(and give him the last laugh),and be proof enough that the negative critics wrong.

  27. richard moss
    5 Feb 12
    11:41 pm

  28. @ John

    With respect John, which one is it 1 or 2?
    Does he have the right of reply, or should he ignore the critic? We are paid to make entertainments, the critic is paid to criticise.

  29. Doug
    6 Feb 12
    1:31 pm

  30. @John, should he use a public awards night to voice his tirade and deflate the focus on the award he is presenting? I think everybody understands that he has the right of reply, its the choice of the launchpad which is pretty poor. And your point 2 is utter BS John, most reviews are pretty negative. I’m glad the film is doing okay against the critical reception. I wish Mr Elliott all the luck in the world, he’s a talented filmmaker, there’s no question about that, I think even Mr Schembri agree’s on this point. Is the real problem that Mr Schembri writes for a newspaper? Hit the blogosphere people, their are reviews much worse than Mr Schembri’s..much worse. I think Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy was an utterly overhyped film, its been getting rave reviews (not from Mr Schembri) Great acting, photography, great set design, but the story was lacking enormously (needed another 40mins), hasn’t stopped audiences flocking to it. If people want to see a Few Best Men they’ll find it. Critics are just one piece of a films success, make an engaging film that isn’t riddled with cliche after cliche..thats a good start.

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