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 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Tuesday September 18, 2018 

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CRACKERS FOR YOU

It’s Christmas, and the family is coming together – but only physically. Andrew L. Urban reports on the new Australian film that cremates the image of the family ‘barbie’.

With Crackers, Melbourne comedian David Swann sought to inject freshness and spontaneity into his script: "The essence of good film writing," he says, "is brevity; condensing things to the essence. Whereas theatre is 90 per cent dialogue, cinema is more visual. So I redrafted a lot to write out the cliches, searching for how I could find the freshness in the cliches, the uniqueness of the characters, especially in the dialogue."

Making his feature film debut, 13 year old Daniel Kellie plays great grandson to Warren Mitchell’s character, Albert, who is Scottish – and highly effective at troublemaking.

Shot in Melbourne between April and June last year, the comedy is produced by Chris Warner and photographed by Laszlo Baranyai, with Peter Rowsthorn, Susan Lyons, Maggie King, Terry Gill, Valerie Bader and Chris Chapman in supporting roles.

Funded by the Film Finance Corporation and Film Victoria, with distribution deals from Beyond Films for international, Sharmill Films for Australia, and a presale to pay-tv channel, The Movie Network, Family Crackers is a mid budget film with the appearance of a family movie.

Despite this, Crackers is not aimed at family audiences, with drug references, some strong language and a couple of sex scenes, "but the truth is, kids will go," says Warner. That is cited as a possible reason why "the hardest thing was to lock in the Australian distribution," Warner says. "It’s not a kids’ film…there are some serious emotions dealt with. It’s a comedy with heart, about Joey, this 13 year old who saw his dad die in a plane crash. His mum wants to remarry, but Joey attempts to sabotage the new family. It’s about how ultimately he comes to terms with it through his friendship with his great grandfather, all during one crazy Christmas. Underneath, it’s quite a serious story, with large scale comic mayhem - that’s David Swann’s form of comedy. The characters are real and they go through real experiences."

Natalie Miller of Sharmill says "people obviously want entertainment and this is certainly that." In early screenings in Melbourne, test audiences howled with laughter, especially at the blackest bits. Miller has pledged the biggest national release she has ever undertaken on a film, with 58 prints.

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