Month: October 2013

Exhibition: Shaun Tan’s ‘The Lost Thing’

Shaun Tan is one of Australia’s most talented visual storytellers. His illustrated storybooks and graphic novels are nuanced, intriguing and moving, and often explore complex and challenging themes (even those created for children). To describe Tan as a children’s storyteller is limiting — his books go well beyond any age barriers. In fact, his 2006 wordless graphic novel The Arrival was named both ‘Book of the Year’ at the NSW Premier’s Literary Awards as well as ‘Picture Book of the Year’ by the Children’s Book Council of Australia. In 2010, Tan was asked to direct a short animated film based on his 2000 book The Lost Thing. The film went on to win the Oscar for Best Animated Short. Here’s the trailer: Recently I stumbled across a small exhibition about The Lost Thing and its cinema adaptation at ACMI. The exhibition features original drawings by the author as well as interviews with the filmmakers describing the production process. The film is also showing here in a small nook next to the main exhibits. The exhibition is really worth …

Events: Indian today, Italian tomorrow

A quick last-minute heads up for you all: two multicultural festivals will be happening in Melbourne this weekend — the Indian Diwali Festival of Light today, and the Carlton Italian Festa tomorrow. The Diwali Festival kicks off at noon in Federation Square and will finish up at 9.30pm. The festivities will include dance performances by an Indian folk dance troupe, food and craft stalls, and fireworks over the Yarra River this evening. Tomorrow, the Italian Festa starts at 11am and includes music performances (including a headline act by a suitably shiny-haired Italian import called Patrizio Buanne), food, pasta-making workshops and the inevitable line-up of gleaming cars and motorcycles. It all wraps up at 8pm. So, no excuses. Get out and get cultured, Melbourne!   Diwali Festival of Light 2013 Date: 26 October 2013 Time: 12pm–9.30pm Where: Federation Square, Melbourne   Carlton Italian Festa 2013 Date: 27 October 2013 Time: 11am–8pm Where: Piazza Italian, Lygon St, Carlton    

Why do books cost so much in Australia?

Books are expensive in Australia — too expensive for many people to afford to buy them regularly. There are complex reasons for this, which, for an economics dummy like me, are difficult to understand. In a nutshell, it seems publishers’ production costs in Australia are higher than in, say, the USA, and local copyright laws prohibit Australian booksellers from ‘parallel importing’ — importing the same books at cheaper prices. A few years ago, the government considered scrapping these restrictions, but finally decided against it. There was much debate about the pros and cons of parallel importing — see these articles by Jeremy Fisher, Michael Wilding and Matthia Dempsey. Having worked as a book editor in a local publishing company, I understand the need to support this industry that nurtures local writers, but on the other hand it’s difficult to do this if you can’t afford to buy its products. Unfortunately, there’s no easy way around this. If you want a locally produced book by your favourite author, you will need to save your pennies and pay for it — usually between $25 …

Event: Tim Winton’s ‘Eyrie’

Ask a group of Australians to pick their favourite Australian author and you will probably hear the name ‘Tim Winton’ dropped over and over again. Repeated polls show Winton’s novel ‘Cloudstreet’ comfortably claiming the title of Australia’s favourite Australian book, and for good reason. He is one of the few local writers who truly captures the Australian voice. Winton may be popular with the public, but his beautiful writing has also garnered much critical acclaim. He has won the country’s most prestigious literary prize, the Miles Franklin Award, a record four times and two of his novels have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Despite all this, the West Australian author mostly keeps himself out of the public eye, rarely appearing in the media. I’m guessing that, despite his literary superstardom, this guy can probably walk down the street of any Australian city and go largely unrecognised. So Winton fans will be happy to hear that the man himself will be appearing for one night at the Melbourne Town Hall in a special Wheeler …

Garage Sale Trail 2013

It’s the ideal way to spend a Saturday morning in spring: grab a friend or three and while away few leisurely hours visiting garage sales around the neighbourhood. Most Saturdays there are usually a few garage sales (also known as yard sales) happening around Melbourne, but they’re often spread out and difficult to find. But on Saturday 26 October, that’s going to change as the country explodes into one big garage-sale smorgasbord extravaganza. … Ok. That may be a slight exaggeration. But there will be an unusually high number of sales happening in Melbourne on this day, thanks to the Garage Sale Trail. This initiative started three years ago in the suburb of Bondi in Sydney, and has since spread across the country. The GST is all about fostering sustainability and creating a better sense of community by encouraging households to hold garage sales rather than throw unwanted bits and bobs into the tip. Already there are 898 sales registered in the Melbourne region, over 200 of which are in the city’s inner suburbs. The …

Antenna Documentary Festival 2013

For the first time since its inception in Sydney three years ago, the Antenna Documentary Festival will this year come to Melbourne. The Melbourne tour will showcase twelve international feature-length documentaries, to be screened at ACMI in Federation Square from tomorrow (the 19th) until Monday. Among the collection are the critically well-received After Tiller by Martha Shane and Lana Wilson, and Fire in the Blood by Dylan Mohan Gray (see the trailer below).     Tickets are $17 full / $15 concession, or you can buy a five- or three-session pass. Check the ACMI website for ticketing, times and booking info.   Antenna Documentary Festival 2013 Dates: 17–20 October 2013 Venue: ACMI, Federation Square, Melbourne Damage: $17 full / $15 concession / $14 ACMI members  

Mega kebabs at Alasya

Usually, when one orders a kebab after a late night on the town, one expects a fist-sized meal that can be consumed easily, if somewhat messily, as one attempts to find their way home. One does not generally expect to be handed a kebab the length and breadth of their forearm — which is basically what happened to me last weekend after a trip to Alasya Turkish Restaurant. A kebab from Alasya will cost you around $8.50, and in return you essentially get two meals in one (it’s a strong and stretchy stomach that can handle one of these babies all in one go). I’ve never seen so much stuffing inside a kebab before, and you can opt for as many different sauces as your hungry heart desires. Also on the takeaway menu are pides, casseroles, dips, salads, böreks and freshly bakes breads from the enormous domed oven at the back. Of course, Alasya does more than takeaway food. A sit-down kebab meal will cost around $15, with banquet menus priced between $21.50 and $31.50 — …

Tanderrum: As it happened

Last Friday, the Melbourne Festival 2013 kicked off with a Welcome to Country ceremony performed by the Ilbijerri Theatre Company and Elders from the five Kulin Nations of central Victoria. For all those who didn’t make it to the wonderful Tanderrum event on Friday, here’s a small taste. The festival runs until 27 October, so make the most of it.  

Free jumping castle in Fed Square!

    Clear your weekend schedule immediately and get thee to Fed Square to play on the free jumping castle! Ok, so strictly speaking it’s not a castle — more a big squashy blow-up platform on which to jump around with reckless abandon. It’s like being four all over again. Adults and children welcome. Groups generally take turns for about five minutes at a time, but you can jump as often as you like. Only open until 8pm tomorrow, so get onto it, people!   JUMP  Dates: Until 13 October 2013 Time: 10am–8pm Venue: Federation Square, Melbourne  

Event: Tanderrum and Creation

    It’s rare that we city dwellers are exposed to the ancient Aboriginal cultures of this land. Indigenous Australians have inhabited the country for at least 50,000 years, and many scholars consider their culture to be the oldest continuing culture on the planet. Tomorrow evening, Melburnians will be reminded of this extraordinary heritage as the Melbourne Festival kicks off with ‘Tanderrum and Creation’, a free event to be held in Federation Square. First, the Ilbijerri Theatre Company will stage Tanderrum, a Welcome to Country ceremony performed by Elders from the five Kulin Nations of central Victoria. Next, acclaimed Aboriginal singer Archie Roach will perform his new show Creation in an open-air concert (listen to Archie’s new track ‘Song to Sing’ above). Backed by a ten-piece ensemble featuring a string quartet, this promises to be a great gig. This event — all of it — is completely free, so get down to Fed Square tomorrow at 6pm and enjoy.   Tanderrum and Creation Date: 11 October 2013 Time: 6pm (1.5 hours duration) Venue: Federation Square, Melbourne