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The Dancing Class by Tom Cowan

S h o r t F i l m s by Tom Cowan

Year: 1962-2010, 67 mins
Code: TC-DAN
ISBN: 978-1-921895-51-7

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The Dancing Class (1964, 12 mins)

A self-assured, chain-smoking ballet teacher gives macho instruction to a small group of tender young ballerinas. 

Won the AFI’s Gold Award for Documentary, and was shown at the major Australian Film Festivals as well as winning best short at the Commonwealth Awards in Edinburgh.

And other short films by Tom Cowan

Signature (1966, 2 mins)
A nonsense film made from off-cuts (originally called Booboo Film) as a send-up of an Ubu Film which the Ubu group accepted as a legit and indescribable experimental film.

Helena of Sydney (1966, 12 mins)
We spend a day and night with Helena, a Greek actress, as she tours Sydney. Most of the dialogue is in Greek, but it's easy to follow the narrative. A great nostalgic short film - look for the Sydney Opera House still under construction.

Australia Felix (1970, 28 mins)
The longest of the short films and the only one in colour. This film is an interesting cultural, social and political document of the day (1970) - in relation to the differences between Australia and the mother country, England.

Nimmo Street (1962, 11 mins) 
A neo-realist drama set near the crumbling Arrow Theatre. Two street bodgies hang around near the station and try to terrorise an Italian girl.  A boy tries to fight for her and is beaten up.  The dry streets of Middle Park reflect the crabbed lives of the star-crossed lovers.

Tom Cowan has a distinguished film career as a director and as a cinematographer. While a trainee at ABC-TV in the early 1960s, he directed The Dancing Class. It won the AFI's Best Film of the Year, and also a First Prize at the Commonwealth Awards in Edinburgh.  In the ‘70s, he was part of the 'Larrikins in London'. With Germaine Greer, Robert Stigwood, Martin Sharp, Arthur Boyd, John Weiley, Richard Neville and many others, he worked (as Director of Photography) on Philippe Mora's wacky musical feature film Trouble In Molopolis.

Cowan wrote, co-produced and directed four feature films at this time. His Journey Among Women won the AFI's Most Creative Feature Film Award in 1977. The other feature films as director are The Office Picnic, Promised Woman and Sweet Dreamers. Tom was also the support system to other directors in the '80s. For John Duigan he photographed four features including the seminal Mouth To Mouth and Winter of our Dreams with Judy Davis and Bryan Brown.

Over the years, Cowan has worked as a cinematographer on numerous productions, in various countries:  the Indian film Samskara (directed by Pattabhi Rama Reddy), which won India's Best Feature (President's Award) and many international prizes including the Silver Lion at Locarno; the IMAX film Antarctica, which won the Prix du Jury at the Festival de la Geode and has taken over US$100 million at the box office; the IMAX film Africa's Elephant Kingdom for Michael Caulfield, which stayed in Variety's Top 50 grossing list for over two years and netted Cowan the Australian Cinematographer Society's Gold Award; the TV series Survivor 2 - Down Under, which gained Cowan an Emmy nomination in 2001; the Disney film The Young Black Stallion in 2004; among others.

His first Local Emotion Picture feature film entitled Orange Love Story was made in 2004 and was a big hit at film festivals.

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