Let’s Dance: Bowie Down Under to premiere at MIFF

A new documentary about David Bowie and his Australian experience will have its Australian premiere at the Melbourne International Film Festival on Sunday.

Let’s Dance: Bowie Down Under explores the forgotten story behind Bowie’s biggest hit record – and how an unlikely journey, deep into the Australian outback, led to its unprecedented success around the world.

The film features never-before-seen archive footage of Bowie, plus new interviews with key collaborators and commentators. 

Charting the unique 35mm shoot for Let’s Dance – from the remote outpost of Carinda to Sydney’s Parramatta Road – the film explores Bowie’s fascination with Australia, at a pivotal moment in time.

The film introduces the forgotten stars of Bowie’s groundbreaking videos, Joelene King and Geeling Ng, as well as award-winning filmmakers David Mallet and Julien Temple, lauded MTV host and Rolling Stone US editor, Kurt Loder, music historian, Norman Jay MBE, and renowned academic, Marcia Langton.

Additional crew also open up for the first time about the Australian shoot. 

The team behind the project, journalists-turned-filmmakers Ed Gibbs and Rubika Shah, uncovered a wealth of new material during their three-year search. 

Gibbs said he was delighted to bring the story home to Australasian audiences.

“We were overwhelmed by the response the film had at its world premiere in Berlin. We can’t wait to screen the film in Australia.”

 David Mallet, who directed the video for Let’s Dance (and its follow-up, China Girl), is one of many collaborators the filmmakers interviewed for the project. 

Bowie, Mallet notes, has an uncanny knack of knowing what he wants (and what will work), saying that, “Let’s Dance was unlike any other video… MTV jumped on it, and played the hell out of it.”

 Nile Rodgers, the front man who produced the Let’s Dance LP with Bowie, adds that their crossover record was “a new kind of dance music” that appealed to both black and white audiences, with its visual interpretation reflecting a broad-based, cross-cultural appeal.

Let’s Dance – which introduced contemporary Indigenous Australians to a worldwide television audience – transformed Bowie from cult hero to global phenomenon. 

It remains his most popular release, with single and album sales in excess of 10 million copies worldwide.