Inland Empire – 35MM + book launch

MA 15+
19 November
6.00pm (book launch) / 7.00pm (film)
Location informationArc Cinema
Event cost$12 / $10 (single session) or $70 / $56 (all 7 films)

Inland Empire (2006) is just as notorious among cinephiles and David Lynch obsessives for what happened behind the camera as it is for what happened in front of it. Yet you don’t enter into a Lynchian cinematic venture expecting it to be normal: you want it to be weird and terrifying and frightening and exciting and captivating all at once.  

The plot, like most Lynch plots, is layered and complex. Yet in its simplest form Inland Empire follows a troubled film production as an actress (Laura Dern) and leading man (Justin Theroux) find their lives unravelling around them during the shoot. Dern famously recounted a story about a producer on the film asking whether Lynch was joking when he requested a one-legged woman, a monkey and a lumberjack in a one-hour turnaround, to which she replied ‘Yeah, you're on a David Lynch movie, dude. Sit back and enjoy the ride.’ 

Is Inland Empire good? Who can say? Shot predominantly on a Sony camcorder by Lynch, it’s an experimental feature that baffled its stars as much as audiences when it premiered at the Venice Film Festival. It also features an eclectic supporting cast with Harry Dean Stanton, Jeremy Irons, Julia Ormond, Terry Crews, Mary Steenburgen and William H Macy (to name a few).  

As a truly original filmmaker, Lynch has long been obsessed by the balance of light and dark. He often utilises Dern as the lighthouse: the beacon of hope and illumination as the weight of darkness, corruption and insidiousness fester at the edge of frame. A seminal figure in her development as an actress and an artist across Blue Velvet (1986) and Wild at Heart (1990), any time the pair reunite it’s unmissable … even if the occasion is as weird and baffling as Inland Empire.  

- Maria Lewis, Assistant Film Curator (ACMI) 

Presented in partnership with ACMI

Presented on a 35mm film print from the NFSA collection. 

See more films in our Wild at Heart - the films of Laura Dern season.



About the book: Inland Empire  by Melissa Anderson 

‘A whirling, digressive journey through time and place, cinema and storytelling, Anderson’s slim yet mighty volume is a transcendent work of queer, feminist film criticism, saturated in deep scholarship, affection and respect for Lynch and their shared muse, Laura Dern’ – Jenni Olson 

About the author 

Melissa Anderson is the film editor of 4Columns. From 2015 to 2017 she was the senior film critic for The Village Voice. She is a frequent contributor to Artforum and Bookforum

You can purchase copies of Melissa Anderson’s book Inland Empire for $21 in the NFSA Courtyard from 6pm, courtesy of Paperchain Bookstore.  

Book launch at 6.00pm / Film commences at 7.00 pm. 



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