Australian International Screen Forum to celebrate 40th anniversary of ‘Gallipoli’

Mark Lee and Mel Gibson in 'Gallipoli'.

Mel Gibson will appear in a Q&A ahead of a 40th anniversary screening of Peter Weir’s Gallipoli at this year’s Australian International Screen Forum, which aims to connect the Australian and US industries.

Typically held in New York in partnership with Screen Australia, the 2021 event, planned for late March, will be held entirely online, and consist of screenings, keynotes, interviews, panels, and workshops.

The screening of Weir’s landmark 1981 film, from a National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA) restored print, will also include an interview with Gibson’s co-star Mark Lee and tributes from on-and-off screen talent.

Weir has endorsed the forum’s tribute to Gallipoli, set across rural Western Australia, a WWI training camp in Cairo and then the battlefront in Turkey.

“The film is a memorial to the men who fought and died at Gallipoli in southern Turkey in 1915,” the director said. “It was inspired by a visit to that lonely peninsula in 1976, the battlefield still largely preserved.”

Shot across South Australia and Egypt, Gallipoli was written by David Williamson, based on a story by Weir, and produced by Patricia Lovell and Robert Stigwood. Russell Boyd was the cinematographer, and editor William Anderson. The film was produced via Associated R&R Films, a partnership between Stigwood and Rupert Murdoch, with the original Australian release handled through Roadshow Pictures, Paramount for North America and Cinema International Corporation for the rest of the world.

Gallipoli won eight AFI Awards including Best Film and Best Director, and was nominated for Best Foreign Film at the 1982 Golden Globe Awards.

With Weir’s involvement, the film was restored in 2014 to coincide with WWI Centenary events, one of the first films to be restored under the NFSA Restores program.

“A great deal of care has gone into keeping my film Gallipoli looking as fresh as the day it first came out of the lab back in 1980,” says Weir.

“I want to offer my thanks to all those involved in that quiet and painstaking work. That appreciation extends from film preservation to film-loving organisations like the Australian International Screen Forum who get the films out there. It’s no use having a handsomely restored film if no one gets to see it. As for the 40-year old memories? They don’t need restoration because they haven’t aged a day. An unforgettable cast and crew and a powerful subject that meant so much to all of us can never age.”

Gibson will discuss the making of and impact of the Gallipoli, and its influence on his career as an actor, director and producer.

Australian International Screen Forum chair Chris Beale said: “We are proud to celebrate the 40th anniversary of this landmark Australian film as part of our first virtual edition of the Screen Forum in New York.  Peter Weir’s Gallipoli launched the international career of Mel Gibson and set a standard for ground-breaking cinematography that has influenced directors ever since.”

The full forum program, including Opening and Closing Night screenings, industry speakers and panels will be announced later this month.

In the lead up to the six-day Screen Forum event, with support from Screen Australia, 11 Australian screen creatives who were set to physically attend the 2020 Forum under the Talent USA program will participate virtually in two weeks of exclusive and bespoke professional development and networking sessions.

This year the forum will also partner with Screenworks, with event co-inciding with the organisation’s Regional to Global Screen Forum taking place March 25-27. Attendees of both forums will gain reciprocal access to each event.

The Australian International Screen Forum will run March 21-26.