Wayne Blair has been forced to pull out of this weekend’s Big Screen Symposium. Blair is heading to the US and, unlike fellow Aussie Julian Assange or local celeb Kim Dotcom, doing so voluntarily now that The Sapphires US premiere has been moved up. The good news is his replacement.
Stepping into the breach is a somewhat more established Aussie multi-hyphenate, Gillian Armstrong. The director of 1979 Cannes nominee My Brilliant Career has shuffled between Hollywood and more independent fare for much of her career, although Armstrong’s Charlotte Grey, Starstruck and Oscar and Lucinda probably sit higher of most people’s list of films to revisit than Little Women.
Armstrong will take over the Symposium’s Sunday morning Directing Workshop slot vacated by Blair, running a session, “10 Ways to F**k Up Your Film” and then return after lunch for an In Conversation session which is a new addition to the programme.
The Sunday programme is extended by almost an hour as a result of the change, delivering even more bang for attendees’ bucks.
Blair’s The Sapphires is currently going gangbusters at the Aussie box office and opens here 4 October. Other than a few crimes against curtains by costume designer Tess Schofield, it’s an enjoyable watch.
Armstrong’s next feature The Great is due at a currently unspecified date next year. Written by longtime TV writer Tony McNamara (Puberty Blues, The Secret Life of Us, The Rage in Placid Lake), the drama will feature Annette Bening as the eponymous Catherine, Empress of Russia.
The Big Screen Symposium runs 1 and 2 September at the Owen Glenn Building, Universtiy of Auckland. Full programme details and tickets are available from the website.