Remembering the suburban dream

Dan Edwards

At this year’s Sydney Film Festival, FTO (NSW Film and Television Office) showcased short films funded through the Young Filmmakers Fund. Specifically targeting emerging filmmakers aged between 18 and 35, the fund has provided over $1.6 million to 71 film productions since its creation in 1995.

One of the stand out shorts in the showcase was Avoca, written and directed by Nerida Moore. The film focuses on the director’s experiences growing up in Avoca after her parents moved to the beach-side suburb to pursue the Australian suburban dream. Drawing on her family’s Super 8 archive and ironic recreations of post-war newsreels espousing the virtues of suburban living, Avoca is an intriguing meditation on the role filmic images play in forming and refracting our memories. As the voiceover delves into Moore’s fractured family history, Avoca also effectively conveys the parochial narrow-mindedness that formed the darker side of the sunny post-war suburban dream. The film concludes with Moore returning to contemporary Avoca with a video camera. Ironically, she’s given the same kind of wary reception that her parents received several decades earlier.

Avoca stood out from the other YFF films screened at the Festival for its formal and thematic sophistication, and reflexive rumination on the relationship between personal memory and filmic representations of time and place. The film earned Nerida Moore the Emerging Filmmaker Award at the 2002 Melbourne International Film Festival.

Avoca, director Nerida Moore, Young Filmmakers Fund Screenings, 50th Sydney Film Festival, Dendy Opera Quays, June 13

RealTime issue #56 Aug-Sept 2003 pg. 19

© Dan Edwards; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 August 2003