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“Hidden Places: The 2015 Canberra International Film Festival

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The 2015 Canberra International Film Festival, which opens this Thursday, will showcase a curated selection of films, two of which are by Aussie directors Margot Nash (The Silences) and Sari Brathwaite (Smut Hounds)

I was lucky enough to speak with Margot and Sari about their respective works and what it’s like to be a female director in the modern industry.

Margot Nash’s film The Silences, which she describes as a “sort of personal narration essay, a compilation essay. It uses a lot of clips from other films, archival footage all edited together”

The film is a story of the “Silences” in Margot’s life growing up, the secrets and the things that just weren’t talked about.

Margot grew up “in a house full of secrets, my father was mentally ill and growing up in the 50’s there was no way to deal with mental illness. My household was very very difficult…but I always thought it was normal.”

She wanted to “delve into the hidden places in hidden places,” and to study “how history is written.”

As this film was personal, dealing very heavily with private family matters, I asked Margot what it was like making it.

“It was interesting at times, because sometimes I’d look at a photograph that I had always thought was of my mother and my sister and then I’d look at it again, and realise that that wasn’t the case at all.”

It was also difficult because though Margot and her sister thought that they were prepared for what it would be like to explore their past. They “thought that they were but the reality of it was quite different”.

Sari Braithwaite is the director of Smut Hounds, another film showing at CIFF. Smut Hounds is about I Love, You Love, a film that was banned from the Sydney Film Festival in the 1960s as at the time it was believed that it contained a sex scene.

The film was released into the cinema by David Stratton, who at the time fought furiously for it to be shown.

Working on this film “was great, one of the great things about directing this film meant that I had a lot of time to look at the archives and I got to have look at the scenes that were cut…had a look at what was cut from which films, the banned clippings.”

As this film concerns the nature of censorship, I asked Sari what she thought of this still controversial topic.

“As a filmmaker, the idea that the government [was policing morality] in what an audience could and couldn’t see…makes me deeply uncomfortable. We need to be having those debates about what audiences should be able to see”.

She believes that people should come to see Smut Hounds as “people will feel entertained by this very peculiar story. [It’s also] great opportunity to go and celebrate the really enormous contribution that David Stratton has made for Australian film. Also it’s funny”

the essentials
What: The Canberra International Film Festival
Where: The National Film and Sound Archive, 1 McCoy Circuit Acton.
When: 5-15 November
Web: For more information see the website.


We’re giving two lucky HerCanberra readers a double pass to the Canberra International Film Festival. Just email us at editor@hercanberra.com.au and tell us in 50 words or less which film* in the program you’d use the double pass to see and why. The winners will have a double pass waiting for them at the Festival Hub at the NFSA for that session.

Entries close Thursday 5 November at 11:59pm. Winners will be notified by email. 

*Double pass not valid for opening and closing nights. Availability of tickets to any particular session or film is limited and subject to availability. 

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