Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Croghan's Credit-Card Romance Pays off Film Is More Evidence That the Aussies Are Back

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Croghan's Credit-Card Romance Pays off Film Is More Evidence That the Aussies Are Back

Article excerpt

ONCE the land of such anti-war movies as "Gallipoli" and "Breaker Morant" and feminist coming-of-age tales like "My Brilliant Career" and "The Getting of Wisdom," Australia has recently become one of the most prolific producers of contemporary romantic comedies.

From "Strictly Ballroom" to "Muriel's Wedding" to "Hotel de Love" to the upcoming backstage comedy "Cosi," the feel-good mood of these pictures has led to a re-evaluation of Australian cinema.

Not to mention a reassessment of their commercial potential outside art houses. "Ballroom" made a tidy $12 million in the United States, and "Wedding" topped that with $15 million. The latest example, Emma-Kate Croghan's "Love and Other Catastrophes," was shown at Seattle's Women in Cinema festival in January and is scheduled to open in St. Louis on Friday. While on a publicity tour that included the Sundance Film Festival, Croghan and members of her cast showed up in Seattle to talk about the creation of their low-budget success story. "The whole thing was shot in just 17 days," said the 25-year-old Croghan, who directed and co-wrote the picture for about $37,000. It has so far grossed $1.2 million in Australia; at last year's Cannes Film Festival, the rights were sold to dozens of countries. The producer was her longtime boyfriend, Stavros Andonis Efthmymiou. "What happened was, Stavros asked if I wanted to make a film in six weeks' time. I had a vague idea about a comedy with a college campus setting, about falling in love with the wrong person." Like other young Australian filmmakers, Croghan has spent a lot of time watching classic Hollywood films. "Love and Other Catastrophes" even includes a game in which the students define themselves by naming their favorite films - everything from "Raging Bull" to "Calamity Jane" to "Gilda." The leading character, Alice, is writing a thesis on "Doris Day as a feminist warrior." "If you're interested in film, you just spend a lot of time watching it," said Croghan. "Our generation has an access through video; that means you can watch everything 20 times. Your references are so huge. "I'd been watching a lot of screwball comedies - George Cukor's `Holiday,' Ernst Lubitsch's `The Shop Around the Corner,' Leo McCarey's `The Awful Truth.' You can play `find the homage' if you like." To bring the story into the 1990s, she and her co-writers, Yael Bergman and Helen Bandis, plugged in details about college students they've known. …

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