"A criminal failure on a grand level," is how producer Michele Bennett
describes Mark 'Chopper' Read, the subject of Chopper, Andrew Dominik's debut feature.
Dominik became fascinated by the man who is now living on a Tasmanian farm on the proceeds
of autobiographies that make him a best selling writer ("even though I can't
spell," he chuckles).
It was his first book in 1993 that captivated Dominik. "There was a paragraph
about how he killed 14 people and not regretted it. Then he dreams about his victims
appearing to him . . .it seemed to me he had mixed feelings about what he'd done. I'm
fascinated by this motiveless crime thing, where it's committed for psychological
Chopper is a singularly Australian film - not only because of its subject matter but
because of the way it manages to tell the story with neither the grating polish of a
studio film or the glaring romanticism of a European biopic. Whether buyers will see its
market potential remains to be seen. Certainly Eric Bana delivers a character portrait
that is all too multi dimensional, and Dominik directs with flair and energy.
In Russian Doll, Hugo Weaving (The Matrix) plays Harvey the PI who is in therapy, David
Wenham (The Boys) plays Ethan, the best friend and Natalia Novikova plays Katia, the
Russian doll of the title. "We looked everywhere for a Russian and finally found her
in Melbourne," says Stavros Kazantzidis, who co-wrote and directs.
His collaborator on the script was a Russian born Australian, Allanah Zitserman, who
took Kazantzidis to a Russian club in Sydney's Bondi for her grandfather's 75th
birthday - and that was it. The social milieu triggered a writing collaboration in which
the two writers abandoned the direction each of their previous scripts were heading and
focused on Russian Doll.
At the Russian Roulette Club, the Greek-origin Kazantzidis realised that Russian Jews
and Greeks had a lot in common. "They're both food-oriented, expressive,
guilt-ridden, gregarious and emotionally volatile cultures," he says. Perfect for a
Both films are represented by Beyond Films, who also represent Mallboy, which screened
in Directors Fortnight on May 16, 2000. See our INTERVIEW with Mallboy director Vincent