The Invisible Film – SMH – 02/06/89

02 June 1989
Sydney Morning Herald

WHILE Yahoo Serious, the star of Young Einstein, cavorts in the United States in a wardrobe as eloquent as the emperor’s new clothes, the star of another Australian film made for teenagers has to live with the fact that her film has not produced even a T-shirt.

Although Nadine Garner was voted Best Actress at the 1988 AFI Awards for her performance, Mull is suffering a fate worse than death.

There are no whacky hairstyles, no werewolves and no bubblegum in sight, but Mull does boast its fair share of teen hedonism – balanced with a born-again father and his neo-Christian choir, a rock band and a teenage heroine who ends up running her whole household when her mother becomes terribly ill. The film also won the 1988 AFI Members’ Prize For Excellence In Film and yet it may never be seen by the audience it was made for.


“There were so many opportunities for promoting Mull,” rants a fast-talking Don McLennan. The film’s director, he is perhaps best remembered for Hard Knocks which won a couple of AFI awards in 1980 and gave Tracy Mann her first big break.


“We never thought it would be a Crocodile Dundee or a Young Einstein, but we felt that here, for once, was a film that would appeal to teenagers without preaching and without being twee.


“Mushroom Records was interested in the music for a record, the book by Bron Nichols, which we based the film on, is on the school syllabus in Victoria, and it got an excellent reaction from teenagers in test screenings -they literally yelled and hooted at the end – but the distributors put no money behind the publicity. They came up with a cheap and nasty poster and released it in an art-house cinema when it should have been put on at Hoyts.”


Promotion has always been a problem with Australian films. They have to compete with American movies which arrive in this country with a fully conceived press kit, art work, posters and publicity angles.


In stark contrast, McLennan didn’t even know Mull was being released in Sydney until someone told him at a party last week.


Mull has been picked up in Sydney by the AFI Cinema, for a two-week season.


For Nadine Garner, Mull was a chance finally to shake off the image of Tamara, the character she played in The Henderson Kids, which scored her a Logie for best TV newcomer in 1986, and a Penguin Award for best juvenile actor in 1987. The fate of her first major feature film appearance has become just another step in her education in the Australian entertainment industry.


“I don’t know whether film should just reflect reality or create huge, wonderful stories,” she says. “I think Australia is better at parallelling life, whereas American films are good at taking you on a big escapist trip. I think the Australian public enjoys an American movie a lot more for that reason.”


Garner says she personally loved the character of Mull because, for once, it was a girl’s role which hadn’t been written just as decoration.


“Mull isn’t just a wet female character,” she explains enthusiastically. “She is the backbone of the film.”

The AFI Cinema will give passes to Mull to the first 10 people who call 332-2408 today between 10 and 10.15am.

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