Wrong Side of the Road restoration to premiere at the 60th Sydney Film Festival

Peter Butler and Ronnie Ansell in Wrong Side of the Road

Peter Butler and Ronnie Ansell in Wrong Side of the Road. Copyright Ned Lander, Graeme Isaac

Photo by Carol Ruff

A digital restoration of 1981’s ground-breaking film Wrong Side of the Road, the first ever Australian feature starring an all-Indigenous cast, will have its world premiere at this year’s 60th Anniversary edition of the Sydney Film Festival (5-16 June 2013).

The restoration and sound, is presented by SFF in partnership with the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA).

“A film restoration is always exciting as we draw together the original energy of the film, and the expertise of curators, preservation and technical experts, to witness often miraculous results,” said Meg Labrum, NFSA Senior Curator, Film Documents and Artefacts. “ Wrong Side of the Road is particularly significant as it gave vision and voice to an emerging Indigenous identity at a crucial time in the development of Australia’s film industry. We are proud to have helped bring this title back to life both as a cinema and a cultural experience.”

Wrong Side of the Road is a fictionalised account of 48 hours in the lives of two South Australian Aboriginal bands: No Fixed Address and Us Mob. A collaboration between the band members, director Ned Lander and producer Graeme Isaac, the film was shaped from actual on-the-road experiences. Described as inspiring, disturbing, entertaining and one of the most positive films made about Aboriginal life, Wrong Side of the Road presented a contemporary view of urban Aboriginal lifestyle, previously unseen on Australian screens.

Lander and Isaac said that “collaborating with No Fixed Address and Us Mob to make this film was an extraordinary experience. Wrong Side of the Road recorded the passionate outpouring of their youthful creative energy; it reflected life for these young musicians as they were experiencing it – tough, vibrant and challenging. It is great to see the film restored for new audiences and future generations.”

The film was the focus of considerable media attention when it was released. It was warmly received by Indigenous communities all over Australia, and adopted by Aboriginal education units for use in schools. The film and soundtrack were critically acclaimed and recognised at the 1981 Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, with two nominations (Best Film and Best Original Music) and the Jury Prize. Internationally the film was screened at the 1982 Mannheim Film Festival and the 1983 Chicago Black Film Festival. It also garnered high praise at the 1983 London Film Festival.

With the expert support of Efilm/Deluxe, the film has been painstakingly restored frame by frame, and is now preserved in both analogue and digital formats. Brought back to life with crisp image the film will be presented via Digital Cinema Package (DCP) at the SFF screening – a first for the NFSA.

“Sydney Film Festival has a strong tradition of presenting Indigenous cinema, so we are thrilled to be able to revisit this great 1981 film, restored and remastered for a new generation,” said SFF Festival Director Nashen Moodley. “We are sure that audiences old and new will enjoy what is both an extraordinary story and a chance to enjoy the wonderful music of these seminal Australian bands.”


For further information contact:

Charlotte Greig, Publicity Manager Sydney Film Festival
charlotte@sff.org.au, 02 9690 5314

Amber Forrest-Bisley, Director Cardinal Spin
amber@cardinalspin.com.au, 02 8065 7363, 0405 363 817

Matt Fraser, Communications Advisor Cardinal Spin
matt@cardinalspin.com.au, 0401 326 007