Melina Marchetta

30th June 2015: The joys and woes of film adaptations

Yesterday I read a wonderful article in the online Australian Guardian about the film adaptation of Looking For Alibrandi. (see attachment below)

Back in 2000, the film came out on the same day as Gladiator and the same year as Chopper, two well made and acted films about men and violence. In a way, it seemed as if we didn’t stand a chance, yet Alibrandi found a place for itself. But dare I ask over and over again, where is the cultural diversity in our films and TV shows today? There are less Josie Alibrandi types on Australian screens these days than fifteen years ago. Some might see that as assimilation, but I’d  say it’s regression.

To be honest, I sometimes wonder if Alibrandi would have been made in today’s Australian film climate, and not just because of cultural identity.  Getting distribution for films is so much about risk taking, and if there’s something that I’ve come to understand from the Jellicoe experience, it’s that distributors won’t take risks when it comes to adaptations about teenagers that don’t have millions of readers or a ready-made market.  Which is such a pity because Alibrandi didn’t have millions of readers, but the novel struck a nerve in the way that both the Jellicoe novel and script has.  Let’s hope that one day Jellicoe will become a reality because Taylor Markham is fearless and vulnerable and annoying and endearing in the same way Josie Alibrandi is.