American Essentials Film Festival

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American Essentials Film Festival
Photograph: Supplied
20th Century Women

From Carrie Fisher's breakdown to David Lynch in focus to Australia's 007, there's plenty of enticing stuff in the second annual fest of American indies

A US documentary about Australia’s James Bond is among the highlights of the American Essentials Film Festival, which brings the best of American independent cinema to Australia.

Twenty movies are having their local premieres at the festival, and there’s additionally an exciting program of retro greats including Annie Hall, Andy Warhol’s Bad, BarflyThe Graduate and the adaptation of Carrie Fisher's memoir Postcards from the Edge. 

Opening night film is 20th Century Women from director Mike Mills (Beginners), starring Annette Bening, Greta Gerwig and Elle Fanning. It’s about a single mother raising her teenage son in the late 1970s with the help of two other women. Its screenplay was nominated for an Oscar this year.

Are We Not Cats is an oddball comedy romance that veers into body horror territory, while American Pastoral is an adaptation of Philip Roth’s novel about a Jewish businessman whose life goes awry amid the turmoil of the 1960s. It’s also the directorial debut of Ewan McGregor.

Australia’s one-shot Bond, George Lazenby (On Her Majesty's Secret Service), is the subject of documentary Becoming Bond. Played for laughs, the film features Lazenby telling his own lamentable story, as well as Josh Lawson playing Lazenby in dramatised sections.

Another doco, G-Funk, tackles West Coast hip hop and features interviews with Snoop Dogg, Dr Dre, Warren G, the late Nate Dogg, and Ice Cube. And with Twin Peaks returning, David Lynch: The Art of Life, which features more than 20 filmed conversations with the cinematic surrealist, will be of particular interest.

The festival takes place at Palace Westgarth, Palace Cinema Como and the Astor.

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