Mel Gibson returns to Australia for ‘Hacksaw Ridge’

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Day and Date Down Under

Aussie Mel Gibson was back in Australia recently for the local premiere of Blood Father, his latest acting role. Gibson chooses very few acting roles at the moment. "The big thing is directing—that's my main push,” he said. Hacksaw Ridge, a war drama that he filmed in Australia, opens in November in many territories. He is next looking at directing a sort of Jacobean tragedy set in 15th-century Italy. Also on the horizon is a sequel to The Passion of the Christ. Gibson feels that that is a few years away yet.

Bleeding Steel is said to be the biggest Chinese production ever to be shot in Australia. Jackie Chan is now in Sydney shooting the futuristic sci-fi thriller, a co-production between Village Roadshow Asia and Heyi Pictures. Chan, who lived in Australia for several years as a child, stars as a hardened special-forces agent who fights to protect a young woman from a tough gang. Additional casting is yet to be announced. Further filming will take place in Taiwan. 

One of Australia's largest cinema chains, Event Hospitality and Entertainment (previously Amalgamated Holdings), has purchased the Downtown Cinemas chain in New Zealand. Downtown Cinemas started with New Zealand's first multi-screen cinema complex, a six-plex in Palmerston North, in 1990. Two additional screens were added in 2008. Downtown also operates  cinemas in Havelock North and Paraparaumu. Bill Wallace, head of the independent chain, is proud of the cinemas he has built up and operated over 25 years. These three new locations will bring Event Cinemas’ New Zealand chain to 17 cinema complexes. Event Cinemas was previously known as Greater Union.

Two cities in Australasia, Napier in New Zealand and Perth in Australia, are famed for their art-deco buildings. In 1993, the World Congress on Art Deco was held in Perth. Since then, some of Perth's art-deco cinemas have closed or been torn down. Perth historian Vyonne Geneve, in partnership with artist Ron Facius, just published Picture Palaces of the Golden West, which is available from the National Trust of Western Australia. It pictures many cinemas that are, sadly, no longer operating.

In 2010, Australian national broadcaster ABC launched the TV series “Dance Academy,” a fictional drama focusing on a group of youngsters who have qualified for a very tough dance school. Now, a feature film, Dance Academy: The Movie, has started production. Many of the cast return and the young dancers are now aiming for the big time at a major ballet academy. Studio Canal will release in Australia, with ZDF Enterprises Germany handling international sales. The TV series played in several European countries.

Send your Australia/New Zealand news to David Pearce at insidemovies@hotmail.com.