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15 AmoreAustralia 1999
Directed by Maurice Murphy
Running time 92 minutes
Written, directed, produced and distributed by Maurice Murphy, 15 Amore is one the relatively few Australian film made outside the usual government and commercial channels. Based on Murphy's own childhood experiences in Mt Macedon, Victoria (although it was shot at Wallalong House, Hinton, Sydney), it deals with the extradition to Australia during WW2 of Italian prisoners and Jewish refugees. This is interesting material but Murphy, whose directorial background is largely in television has opted for a soft-centred, coffee-table book visual style (the lush photography is by John Brock) and stereotypical characterisations which together rob the film of dramatic bite.
This rose-coloured nostalgia may fit very well with the narrative premise that events are being recounted from the perspective of a young boy (whose story now, as a adult is incongrously narrated by rasp-throated Bill Hunter) but for an adult audience this is testingly ingenuous and arguably profligate with the story's potential. Despite doing well on the international film festival circuit, being nominated for four AFI awards and being critically well-received at home the film did not find a local audience, perhaps more because it lacked major distribution (Murphy raised the $AU450,000 budget for his film and distributed it himself) than because of its decorous sentimentalism and relatively unknown cast.