NBA superstars give Mills a big rap

Patrick Mills has blitzed the Olympic Games and now NBA superstar Carmelo Anthony says the Canberra point guard is ready to become a dominant force in the world’s best basketball league.
Nanjing Night Net

Mills’s superb Olympic campaign ended when the Australian Boomers lost to the United States 119-86 yesterday morning (Australian time).

But while the Boomers couldn’t match the gold medal favourites, Mills again stood tall to lead Australia’s hopes of causing a major upset. He finished with 26 points in another stellar game.

For the tournament, he averaged 21 points per game with a 39-point haul against Great Britain and a game-winning three-pointer against Russia.

During his three-year NBA career, Mills has spent most of his time on the fringes.

But New York Knicks star Anthony backed the 23-year-old to take on more responsibility when the US league resumes. ”Patty was playing well the whole tournament, he was shooting the ball well and running that team,” Anthony said.

”He was getting out in the open court and making plays for everyone and himself.

”You can tell he’s grown as a basketball player … it’s hard to prepare for a guy like [Mills].

”You can just tell the way he’s played [that he’s improved], our league [the NBA] is all about opportunity and his opportunity is waiting.

”He’s an exciting player to watch and be out there against.

”I like to watch him, we like to watch him as players and competitors so I hope his opportunity comes real quick.”

The Beijing Olympics four years ago launched Mills on to the professional radar and helped him land a deal in the NBA.

And London has the potential to give his career a similar boost after his starring role.

After a brief trip back to Canberra, Mills will return to the US to begin his second season with the San Antonio Spurs.

At the end of the last NBA season, Mills had offers to join rival franchises and gain a starting five position.

But he opted to stay with the Spurs to continue working with Australian coach Brett Brown – who is the Spurs assistant – as well as learning from All Star Tony Parker.

Brown has lavished Mills with praise after every game, saying he had earned the right to make the big plays in games.

”I think he is [ready for more responsibility] and more importantly [Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich] thinks he is,” Brown said. ”When you watch him grab a game and get 39 [points] when we’re about to be bumped out of the tournament … his level of commitment is shown in his fitness.

”He had a great tournament, he’s learning how to be a point guard and a leader and I feel he can contribute at a higher level in San Antonio.

”I know Pop is really looking forward to giving him that opportunity.”

Kobe Bryant and US coach Mike Krzyzewski also said they were impressed with Mills. ”Patty Mills seems to get better and better every time you face him and I see him improve,” Bryant said. Krzyzewski added: ”Mills had one of the outstanding Olympics of any player.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Flanagan finds positives

Anna Flanagan says it’s impossible to cure Olympic Games heartbreak but she is adamant the Hockeyroos can send a message to their rivals by beating China tonight.
Nanjing Night Net

The devastation of an abrupt ending to the young’s side campaign is still sinking in.

Despite a gallant effort, the Hockeyroos were bundled out of medal contention when they failed to beat Argentina earlier this week.

Making it harder to swallow was the fact they lost just one game and conceded only two goals in the tournament.

But after some family time and a sleepless night wondering ”what if”, Flanagan said it was already time to start planning for the future, staring with tonight’s fifth place play-off with China.

”The whole night and next day was really hard [after the campaign ended],” she said.

”Now we just want to end on a good note and show the rest of the world how far we’ve come and how good we can be,” Flanagan said.

”There were a lot of tears, we put a lot of hard work into this over the last 18 months and I’m really feeling for the girls.”

Flanagan won’t leave London with the medal she started to dream about, but the Canberra star has stamped herself as a key defender for Australia, with the squad now regrouping for a charge towards the next Olympics.

She was overcome with emotion when the Hockeyroos’ tournament was ended abruptly by Argentina and was too devastated to speak after the match.

But the heartbreaking end is contrasted with the extreme high of scoring a goal at the Olympics.

”I’m just proud of everyone and really honoured to be a part of this group,” Flanagan said.

”We had some time off to get things together [after we missed the finals], we had a day with our families and now we want to give it our best shot and finish the way we deserve to finish.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Buchanan has time on her side, now comes a dogfight

Caroline Buchanan during the Women’s BMX Cycling on Day 12 of the London Olympics.She’s untouchable when going solo on the track but Caroline Buchanan wants to prove she’s equally as good in the brutally rough eight-competitor race as she chases her dream of an Olympic Games gold medal.
Nanjing Night Net

The Canberra BMX star will find out tonight if she can make her dream of the past four years a reality when she lines up in the semi-finals.

Buchanan will go into the race as one of the favourites after she blitzed the field to qualify fastest in the seedings round yesterday morning.

The chance to win a medal has been driving Buchanan since the Beijing Olympics when she was told she was too young to compete.

But all the nerves and expectation on the 21-year-old’s shoulders helped her deliver a lightning time of 38.424 seconds to progress to the next stage with ease.

Her bid to advance has been made tough by a stacked semi-final which boasts most of the top riders in her race, including fellow Australian Lauren Reynolds.

Buchanan wasn’t allowed to speak to the media after her seeding race.

To ensure she remains focused on her goal, the Australian team has strangely placed a media ban on all BMX athletes until they have finished competing.

But she tweeted: ”Raced the clock today – race the WORLD Friday (Boxing gloves coming out)”.

Parents Gail and Laurence were in the stands watching – albeit forced to sit apart because the grandstands were sold out – with massive cut-outs of Buchanan’s face.

For the first time in a BMX career which started more than a decade ago, Laurence admitted he was ”scared”.

”There were plenty of butterflies inside of me and I’m sure [Caroline] had the same thing as well,” Laurence said.

”I looked on the big screen and saw what she was facing … that massive ramp, I was scared. Absolutely scared.

”I was thinking what’s going to happen here, but she kept it so smooth and we were just delighted she got a nice clean run … this is the Olympics, it doesn’t get any bigger than this.

”She’s going to need some luck in the semis, there’s no doubt about it.”

Laurence and Gail’s nerves were tested when United States rider Brooke Crain crashed just before Caroline arrived at the starting gate.

Crain had to be helped from the course.

Of course, Buchanan’s parents know the dangers of the sport. It’s an adrenaline junkie’s dream where crashes are a regular occurrence and riders expect to hit the dirt.

But having waited so long for their daughter to reach their goal, it became too much for Gail.

”I was nervous, not because we didn’t trust Caroline’s professionalism. But because of the track, it’s fast, it’s hard and it’s nasty in bits,” Gail said.

”I was doing OK until Brooke Crain fell and then I just had tears in my eyes and I was thinking I was going to lose it.

”Caroline watched that all so who knows how it affects her to see someone face plant into a jump like that.”

Buchanan is a two-time mountain bike world champion and won the BMX time trial world title last month.

However, at the same meet she failed to medal in the eight-competitor race.

”Getting that first race out of the way will settle her nerves,” Laurence said.

”I think if she can podium, we don’t care what colour the medal is, it would be nice to be gold but any medal would be fantastic.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Bird’s experience helps Meares fly

Alex Bird has seen first hand what it takes to win Olympic Games gold and he wants to use his ”weird” London experience to help him chase his goal of success in Rio.
Nanjing Night Net

Australian gold medal winner Anna Meares singled out Canberra cyclist Bird for the work he did with her to help prepare for the sprint final at the velodrome two days ago.

Meares said after her gold medal win: ”Alex Bird has been such an absolute legend,” she said.

”He’s been truly wonderful in helping me be ready to race Vicki tonight.”

But you won’t find Bird’s profile on the Australian Olympic site and he didn’t compete in London.

Instead, he made the trip as Cycling Australia’s second back up rider and he spent his time on the track playing to the role of Great Britain’s queen of cycling Victoria Pendleton to help Meares chase gold.

The national sprint champion missed selection on the Olympic team with Shane Perkins ahead of him in his events.

However, determined to still be a part of the campaign, Bird played his part perfectly behind the scenes.

And while Australia’s athletes party for the last few days in London, Bird was on a flight home just 24 hours after Meares took gold in the women’s sprint.

Essentially, the 27-year-old was Australia’s back up for the back up.

”It was a strange experience to be honest,” Bird said as he prepared to fly back to Australia.

”The way my training is structured, I could kind of help Anna out and I just basically do what I’m told. It was basically helping Anna learn a broader range of strategies.

”There was an occasional impersonations of different riders and a couple of times I did Vicki [Pendleton], but it’s broader than that.

”Seeing Anna win was sensational, it’s more or less the same as any personal victory I’ve had.”

Bird returns home without a medal or even a race on the Olympic stage, but he says being in London has broken down the barriers of competing on one of the world’s biggest stage.

Bird also helped the men’s sprint team train, filling in for bronze medallist Shane Perkins when he was absent at training because of his other duties.

But rather than be jaded, Bird is using the experiences to make him a better racer as he looks to the future.

”Being there as opposed to watching it on television takes away the mystique and aura,” Bird said.

”It makes it seem more achievable and real, not like a dream.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Game of snakes and leaders

He isn’t laughing. Bearded, rumpled, and utterly serious, Zach Galifianakis takes stock of the political world he and Will Ferrell mock in their new comedy, The Campaign.
Nanjing Night Net

”There was a real frustration,” he says of 2009 and the birth of the US conservative movement known as the Tea Party at raucous town hall meetings around the country.

”People were up in arms. I personally think it had a lot to do with Obama being in office. It was racial. I hate to say it, but I do believe it. There are people everywhere, who have that thinking. It’s gross and disgusting.”

The Campaign features Ferrell and Galifianakis as protagonists for unnamed political parties contesting a Congressional election in North Carolina. It arrives as American screens show wave after wave of political comedy, drama and quasi-biography, from the hugely popular The Daily Show and its Comedy Central stablemate The Colbert Report to the Sarah Palin biopic Game Change and Sigourney Weaver’s new cable TV series, Political Animals. There is an appetite to send up politicians.

And then there is the real thing, the Republican Party presidential candidate debates, watched by Ferrell and Galifianakis as The Campaign was filmed in New Orleans last year. The pair had worked together off-screen, with Galifianakis hosting a talk show, Between Two Ferns, on Funny or Die (funnyordie南京夜网), the website that Ferrell co-founded and owns.

”It’s like watching the big game or something,” Ferrell says. ”Just the theatre of it was spectacular.”

”Politics – outside of Hollywood re-creating it – is such a reality show,” Galifianakis says. ”You watch politicians doing their thing these days – they’re constantly being videotaped, they’re constantly being followed. You cannot slip up, and people want to watch their slip-ups.”

The slips are spontaneous, which is to say, unintended and certainly unrehearsed. That is also a stamp of Ferrell comedies. This one is no exception.

As Congressman Cam Brady, Ferrell plays a political archetype who will do anything, say anything and associate with anyone to be re-elected. In this case, the re-election, once a foregone conclusion, has fallen under the spell of the ultra-rich Moech brothers, played with delighted smarminess by John Lithgow and Dan Aykroyd, who shift their favours to the previously unknown small-town tourist guide Marty Huggins, played by Galifianakis.

Forced to actually chase votes, Congressman Brady finds himself visiting a Pentecostalist church, where the devout prove their faith with what they call serpent handling. ”It was a tough day, a long day,” the film’s director, Jay Roach, recalls. ”Half the snakes were live.”

Ferrell had been assured the snakes didn’t bite but knew that actor Nick Blady had already been bitten twice.

”We could have got shut down in a second if one more event happened,” Roach says. ”So it was a very loaded shoot and [Ferrell] was really adrenalised, and that was some of the funniest improvised dialogue of the whole shoot.”

There were other improvised scenes, including one outrageous rendition of the Lord’s Prayer, featuring both stars, and some bravura miming by Jason Sudeikis, who plays Brady’s campaign manager, Mitch Moore.

For Roach, the director of Game Change, the movie account of Sarah Palin’s misadventures as the 2008 Republican vice-presidential nominee, these were moments that reinforced his admiration for the actors: ”I think what good actors do is magic, especially good comedians, because the brainpower to do what they do in that improv situation, in a split second they actually seem to think in a superhuman way … When they’re switched on, oh man, it’s amazing.”

Not to be too cynical about it, but Galifianakis and Ferrell have every reason to be switched on. As co-producers as well as co-stars, they are also investors in the film.

There must be times during its election campaigns when only the US fails to see the joke is on them. The Campaign catches this notion and runs with it.

That includes what Galifianakis describes as ”a base thing that you talk about in this country”, referring to the truest believers of the Republican Party and the line tailored for them, ”America. Jesus. Freedom.”

Ferrell, whose one-man show You’re Welcome, America, a portrayal of former President George W. Bush, enjoyed a sold-out season on Broadway, knows better than most in his industry how a politician connects with his audience.

”We say that at the end of the movie,” he says of the recitation of the political holy trinity. ”Saying three words, it’s like ‘Yeah. America. Jesus. Freedom. I’m for that’.

”What does that mean? I dunno, but they love it.”

THE CAMPAIGNGENRE Comedy.CRITICAL BUZZ A ”vigorous” satire, according to Variety, timed perfectly for the US election campaign.STARS Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, Dylan McDermott, Jason Sudeikis.DIRECTOR Jay Roach.RELEASE Now screening.RATED MA15+.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Reforms leave aged care short by $750m, report finds

AGED care facilities face a revenue black hole of $750 million in the next 2½ years as a result of federal funding changes, a detailed analysis commissioned by the industry shows.
Nanjing Night Net

In a blow to federal government aged care reforms unveiled in April, the report for a leading industry organisation estimates that 89 per cent of aged care facilities would face ”unrecoverable” losses in revenue under funding changes beginning last month.

There are growing doubts about the financial viability of the reforms, which promised a $3.7 billion revamp but contained only $576 million in new funding over the next five years.

The redirection of funding away from residential care costs and the introduction of the more user-pays Living Longer. Living Better plan enabled the government to announce significant reforms at minimal extra cost.

But Gerard Mansour, the chief executive of Leading Age Services Australia (LASA), said that under the new financing plan there would ultimately be a reduction in care funding for each affected resident of $20,000 to $23,000 a year.

”Many nursing homes and in-home care providers are already under financial pressure and LASA has serious concerns that if the way aged care is funded is not addressed, there could be an impact on staffing levels and on the important services which are the very foundation of quality care,” Mr Mansour said.

The average expected loss per aged care facility was more than $125,000 each year, with some facing shortfalls of up to $560,000, concludes the analysis, which was undertaken by the consulting firm the Centre for International Economics.

”As running costs continue to rise, aged care providers – unlike most businesses – cannot increase care fees as they are set by the federal government,” Mr Mansour said. He called for an additional $1.1 billion over the next four years to counter the redirection of care funding.

An earlier analysis by the firm Grant Thornton forecast that the changes would result in an effective cut of about $500 million this financial year, a figure rejected as ”a fiction” by the Minister for Ageing, Mark Butler.

He has said that the government last December increased funding by $2.3 billion to meet cost increases in aged care.

Mr Butler has also announced that growth in payments for nursing home services would be pegged back after what he said had been several years of rises in payments.

The National Aged Care Alliance has called for an independent and comprehensive investigation into the cost of aged care to be established urgently.

Mr Mansour said aged care providers believed the government had to change the way it funded aged care from a system which was artificially constrained by budgetary limitations, to one which matched care funds to people’s needs.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Chilling crime of a charmer

Generous to a fault … Shirley MacLaine as Marjorie and Jack Black as Bernie in a scene from the Richard Linklater comedy Bernie.”SHACKLED by a heavy burden, filled with guilt and shame!” Jack Black joyfully belts out an old gospel song mid-interview. One of Hollywood’s favourite contemporary comedians, he has spread amiable mayhem across films such as Tropic Thunder, Shallow Hal and Kung Fu Panda.
Nanjing Night Net

Black takes the title role as a flamboyant Texan undertaker in the new dark comedy Bernie, from Richard Linklater (Slacker, Dazed & Confused, Fast Food Nation). Black and Linklater reunited almost a decade after making School of Rock for the mocku-drama retelling of one seriously peculiar real-life murder case. Crucial to the hilarity is the collection of quirks – based on factual research – that Black brings to his portrayal of killer Bernie Tiede.

”Bernie really did lead his congregation in gospel songs,” Black says. ”Those were real hymns! They have a strange sexual resonance and a grim foreboding. The walls are closing in; Bernie feels he’s about to be found out.”

Bernie’s macabre secret is the corpse of an elderly millionaire, Marjorie Nugent, hidden in his freezer. Marjorie is played by the legendary Shirley MacLaine, a co-star Black was thrilled to work opposite.

”Man, she’s the real deal, and she’s still got it!” he says.

Bernie was adored by the townsfolk of Carthage, Texas. Kind, polite, cheerful and impeccably groomed, he was a friend and confidant to grieving widows and a model funeral director. Bernie’s involvement in the church, his generosity and skill at needlepoint made him a highly sought companion to older women.

Marjorie, on the other hand, was cruel, racist and foul-tempered. The citizens of Carthage were puzzled when Bernie shacked up with an obnoxious woman almost 50 years his senior.

When he was slowly abused into submission, things turned nasty. ”’Why didn’t you just leave?’ I felt like this was the big question the audience would be asking,” says Black, so he travelled to a Texan jail to put his inquiry to the real Bernie Tiede. ”I wanted to get a better idea of who he was and ask him about his relationship with Marjorie,” he says. ”It’s tricky and really weird to ask people super-personal questions … in jail.

”Bernie didn’t have a release valve for his anger and he snapped; a classic case of temporary insanity. He definitely deserved to do time, it was a horrible crime, but he did not get a fair trial.”

The district attorney, Danny ”Buck” Davidson, is played with evil glee by Matthew McConaughey.

”Buck was able to flip the story and get a much more severe sentence,” Black says.

A great deal of the charm of Bernie lies in the style in which Linklater chose to tell the story.

Apart from a small core cast, the bizarre tale is told in interviews – rife with gossip – with the actual townsfolk of Carthage.

”[Linklater] felt that was a compelling part of the story,” Black says. ”That no one in that small town believed that Bernie would be capable of something like that.”

Behind bars for life, Tiede was delighted to be a part of the film.

Black is still incredulous. ”In the prison workshop, Bernie was working on beautiful memorials for people that had recently passed away. I know there’s still a lot of love for Bernie in Carthage. But, seriously, a dead body in your freezer for nine months?!”

Bernie opens on Thursday.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Safe as houses

Jeremy Renner has joined the Bourne movie franchise. Jeremy Renner in the 2002 telemovie Dahmer.
Nanjing Night Net

JEREMY Renner is still working on a house. It’s what he does. He might be an actor who has had, in a single year, the most high-profile roles of his career, but he’s not going to let go of his business on the side – renovating houses.

Renner, 41, is in what almost seems like blockbuster overload. He’s a member of The Avengers, the Marvel Comics superhero super-franchise that has been one of this year’s biggest hits. He’s a new character in Mission Impossible 4, a film that’s given a boost to what seemed like a tired format. And his new film, The Bourne Legacy, which opens here next week, has the potential to put him in even greater demand.

The Bourne Legacy is the fourth in the Bourne series and marks a passing of the baton. Matt Damon, who starred in the first three, is no longer involved – nor is director Paul Greengrass. Writer Tony Gilroy has taken over as director, and Renner plays a new character, Aaron Cross, a highly trained covert operative with a few extra strings to his bow.

Even so, Renner says he does not intend to let go of the business he and actor Kristoffer Winters started years ago – buying, renovating and reselling houses.

What he likes about it, compared with his other work, is ”it’s tangible, it exists, and it will continue to exist years after I’m gone”.

Yet it is a lot like filmmaking, he says. ”There’s a creative element; there’s a specific order in the way you do things; there are a lot of moving parts; and a thousand new problems are thrown at you every day.” A thousand new problems are, in a way, what The Bourne Legacy is all about.

Its events criss-cross those of the previous film, The Bourne Ultimatum, and some of its characters reappear. We learn of an even more elaborate conspiracy that involves covert organisations and is beginning to unravel. Cross is in extreme danger from attempts to destroy all evidence of the program he was part of. One person who can provide answers, and perhaps help, is medical researcher Marta Shearing (Rachel Weisz). But she, too, is under threat.

It was important to Renner, he says, that his character, whatever his strengths, had an element of vulnerability. ”I would have run away from the role if he didn’t have it. To me, that’s what makes the character accessible. As an audience member, I don’t want to watch this guy be a Terminator.”

Vulnerability emerges most clearly in his scenes with Weisz, which have a degree of intimacy and lightness that they worked on, he says, ”day by day, discovering something a little bit deeper each time”.

The emotional scenes have to be honest, as do the stunts, he says.

Renner likes to do as many of his own stunts as he can. In The Bourne Legacy, the most challenging, he says, was a scene where he had to run up the side of a house. ”It was one shot. That made it a little trickier because there was no editing fix; it was always just me. It took around 25 takes, so fatigue set in.”

Playing the Scarecrow in a school production of The Wizard of Oz gave Renner the taste for acting and his philosophy about his work remains consistent. He is always seeking complexity. Heroes must have flaws and he needs to find empathy for his darkest characters.

It was his performance as a serial killer in Dahmer, a 2002 telemovie, that brought him to the attention of Kathryn Bigelow, who cast him in The Hurt Locker, her Oscar-winning movie about a bomb disposal squad in Iraq. It brought him into the spotlight and landed him his first Oscar nomination (for best actor).

He’s ”been pretty fortunate” to work with other women directors as well: Niki Caro (North Country), Catherine Hardwicke (Lords of Dogtown), and Asia Argento (The Heart Is Deceitful Above All Things).

He is aware that doing a movie such as The Bourne Legacy puts him in the public eye as never before: ”I’m sure there are shifts happening but I’ve been so busy working I’ve hardly had time to take a breath and truly understand anything.”

He thought about the possible impact on his life before he took the role. ”You have to take everything into consideration; it would be irresponsible not to. I talked to family and friends. But I’ve learnt from a lot of great people over the years, from what they do and from their mistakes, and what I do is try to set myself up to fail the least often.”

When he chooses a role, he has a ”certain set of requirements”: ”The character; who I get to learn from, director-wise and actor-wise; the world the movie is set in; the tone; and is this something that I want to be a part of.”

But the most important thing is that ”I don’t want to know the answers. I like to take chances, I like to be surprised every day.”

Right now, Renner says, after the relentless workload of the past few years, what he needs most of all is a nap. He doesn’t have too many immediate plans, apart from the house he is working on. He has a couple of movies awaiting release, including Low Life, written and directed by James Gray (We Own the Night, Two Lovers), which also stars Marion Cotillard and Joaquin Phoenix. It’s a story of immigrants arriving in New York in the early 1900s. ”To put it crudely, it’s about a pimp, a prostitute and a magician, but it’s so much more than that.”

It’s a film he is delighted to be in, although the pace of it all was pretty hectic. ”Literally, three days earlier, I was running across rooftops in Manila [for The Bourne Legacy] and then I was in New York, learning magic tricks real quick.”

The Bourne Legacy opens on August 16.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Golden girls gone wild

On the run … Oscar winners Olympia Dukakis (left) and Brenda Fricker play ageing lovers battling to stay together in the face of ill-health in Cloudburst.Despite being a grandmother herself, the latest film to hit Australian screens from the Oscar-winning actor Olympia Dukakis, is probably not one to watch alongside your own granny.
Nanjing Night Net

In Cloudburst, a 2011 Canadian road movie, she plays a tequila-swigging, cantankerous, lesbian octogenarian with a vocabulary so liberally peppered with profanity it would make a hardened sailor wince.

In one scene her character, Stella, is hitchhiking and bags a ride. In a matter of minutes she’s kicked out of the car when the good Samaritan takes offence at her potty mouth. ”What are you, crazy?” she asks him, when he asks her not to use the C-word. ”C— is for punctuation!”

When looking through the script, were there any lines that she baulked at? ”Not a one,” says the 81-year-old Massachusetts native down the phone from the US. ”Not. A. One.”

Cloudburst is one of 20 films in this year’s Sydney Canadian Film Festival and is a prime example of the originality and derring-do of the films featured.

In it, Stella and her girlfriend of 31 years, Dot (played by fellow Oscar-winner Brenda Fricker), head off on the run from the US to Canada to get married after Dot’s ”c—face” granddaughter gets a court order to get the ailing Dot put into a nursing home.

While the film confronts the themes of an ageing lesbian couple and gay marriage, the overwhelming story is a universal one of love, companionship and the fight to retain them among the challenges of life.

”It’s not a polemic,” Dukakis says. ”It’s about human beings … The political aspect of it doesn’t punch you in the face, but god knows it’s painfully there.”

It’s the third film Dukakis has made with the US-born, Canada-based director, Thom Fitzgerald, and she says she had no reservations about signing up. ”I don’t think of it as Canadian or American; I just think it’s a damn good film, you know, about something that really matters – people’s efforts to carve out a life for themselves and hold on to the things they feel are important, like love and independence and justice.”

While she hopes it will get a wider distribution beyond the international festival circuit – where it’s been showered with awards – she admits it is a head-scratcher for film marketers. She has been buoyed, however, by a review in the industry bible, Variety, which says it has ”considerable crossover appeal”.

The director of Possible Worlds: Sydney Canadian Film Festival, Mathieu Ravier, says the beauty of the event is that it can bring the magic of the nation’s vibrant and prolific film industry to a wider audience. While there are more mainstream features on the program – such as the ice-hockey comedy Goon, featuring American Pie’s Seann William Scott, and Starbuck, which is being remade in the US with Vince Vaughn as the lead – overall it’s a surprising mix of world-class cinema.

”It’s a discovery festival,” Ravier says. ”It’s a chance to discover a national cinema that we know very little about and yet produces an incredibly diverse and interesting body of film.

”It’s refreshingly different from most of what we see on our screens. It’s just as entertaining as American cinema, but usually a lot less formulaic. There are a lot more personal stories, which are less driven by the marketplace and more driven by the need to tell certain stories that reflect a certain cultural identity.”

Another film on the program is so unfocused on commercial success, it’s not actually intended for viewing beyond the festival circuit and not for sale to distributors. I Am a Good Person/I Am a Bad Person is by Ingrid Veninger, who Ravier says is the ”reigning queen” of independent Canadian filmmaking.

Her film, about the challenges filmmakers face in touting their wares, is a raw and bleak portrayal of life on the international film festival circuit, and features captivating performances from Veninger and her real-life daughter, Hallie Switzer, as they grapple with life-changing decisions while overseas.

Veninger says she sees the film, its screening and then subsequent Q&A with the audience – she will be in Sydney for festival, alongside other big names including acclaimed actor and filmmaker Martin Donovan – as all part of the entire ”art proposition”, which counters the 24/7 availability of access to films online nowadays.

”This film, I see almost as a stage piece,” she says from Toronto.

”It’s almost like a very limited performance when it’s at a festival: this is the window of time you get to see it, like a play, and if you miss it, it’s gone. We will only show it in this context, where I can come up before and afterwards and speak about the film and there can be a dialogue with the audience. That’s it.”

POSSIBLE WORLDSThe seventh annual Canadian Film Festival runs August 13-19 at venues including the Dendy Opera Quays and Newtown. Tickets $16. For more details of the full program, see www.possibleworlds南京夜网.au.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

Company searches leaving a paper trail to the gravy train

AUSTRALIA may not be leading the world in gold generation at the Olympics, but it is world champion in extracting gold for company searches and documents.
Nanjing Night Net

Even though the Australian Securities and Investments Commission recently reduced some of its charge rates, the cost of searching basic corporate information is more expensive here than from pretty much every other English-speaking, government-run, corporate database.

Bizarrely, in a country that prides itself on accountability and transparency, the cost of buying company documents in Australia is often more expensive than obtaining similar documents from places such as the British Virgin Islands and Guernsey, which generate huge amounts of income providing largely anonymous offshore incorporation services.

Insider is in the pulpit on this one after spending many hours in the past week chasing down local and international operators of investment ”mentoring” companies, such as Senen Pousa’s ProphetMax.

To be clear, this is not an attack on ASIC, which administers one of the speediest, easy-to-use and most reliable companies databases around. Its charges are there because it is owned by a federal government that long ago decided to adopt user-pays mechanisms as an alternative way of filling its coffers without actually calling them taxes.

ASIC’s charges for company searches are also far less heinous than those levied by the ”information brokers” to which it sublets its database. They double, treble and even quadruple their charge-outs for providing identical services – and Insider suspects that their profit margins might be even fatter because they are probably getting access at a wholesale rate rather than the retail price charged to punters.

This may go a long way to explaining why accounting and legal fees for commercial matters are often so high.

The regulator’s annual report last financial year revealed that a record 68.5 million searches were conducted via its database – or nearly 200,000 a day.

ASIC said that last financial year it raised $580 million for government coffers from fees and charges levied under the Corporations Act and National Credit Act. That includes mandatory filings, and registration fees, but it is a safe assumption that a goodly slice is from company searches by third parties.

Not all searches cost money, but obtaining any meaningful information does. For a simple company extract that will tell you when a company was incorporated, who is on the record as directors, who owns it and what documents have been filed – so long as the documents have been filed – ASIC will charge you $9.

That same search from information brokers can cost anywhere from $15.95 (the price charged by the Queensland Government’s CITEC arm) to an extraordinary $39.60 by NDC Business Information.

The eSearch Group charges only $13.20 for account holders, but casual users get hit with $18.70.

NDC’s audience is accounting and financial services companies, which makes Insider wonder how much of that cost gets passed on to the customers of its members’ firms.

ASIC levies an $18 charge for a copy of a document less than 10 pages (yes – $18 for a single page document!), which begins to look reasonable after you see that NDC’s schedule of charges starts at $48.95. Insider’s sibling publication The Australian Financial Review is an information broker too, and will charge you $30.80 for a sub-10 page document, which is about average.

Order a document larger than 10 pages, and we are only talking electronic delivery here – not snail mail hard copies – and you can be out of pocket up to $70.

Those charges, by the way, apply even if you are silly enough to search for documents of an ASX-listed company that are freely available through the sharemarket operator’s portal.

Use New Zealand’s company service, though, and you will not pay a cent to find out who owns and directs a company, or to see most of the documents filed.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission, which covers public companies, allows free access to its Edgar database, even though it can be cumbersome. Searching private company information can be a little trickier in the US because you have to know in which state they are registered, and different states have different attitudes to making the information available.

In Britain, each document search costs only £1, irrespective of size. In Hong Kong it is about $A3. Singapore is one of the more expensive places, not to mention clunkiest of online mechanisms, but still undercuts Australia in most instances.

Even the British Virgin Islands only wants $US25 for a company search or document – although it is manual, rather than automated.

[email protected]南京夜网.au

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.