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Kath Engebretson – Nineteen Days

Atlas Production, Australia, 2020

Readers have looked on in 2020 as the publishing industry has come to grips with COVID-19 and writers have worked hard to get their stories not just published but then publicised.

Who would have anticipated that a novella set on a cruise ship would be one of the stories to emerge in that year, its author finalising her edits at the close of 2019 before so many things changed.

Barbie spoke to Kath Engebretson about Nineteen Days
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Phil Page – Melbourne Fragments

Gallery 3, M16 Artspace until 31 January
Wednesday to Sunday 12 noon to 5pm
https://www.m16artspace.com.au/

The works in this exhibition clearly and beautifully demonstrate the artist’s architecture background. Phil Page is interested in the way cities develop in layers, built one upon another. His works are created in the same way, documenting his memory of place and change.

Barbie visited M16 to talk with Phil Page about Melbourne Fragments
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The Elfkins – Baking a Difference – Film Review

Palace Electric and Hoyts cinemas from 14 January 2021
Family CG-animated feature, 78 min
Parental guidance recommended for younger children

The legendary HEINZELMÄNNCHEN of Cologne were gnomes secretly finishing craftmen’s work at night until they were ousted by a tailor’s malevolent wife 200 years ago.

Ever since then, the Heinzels have been hiding in a secret underground habitation where any contact with the upper world – and, most of all, with humans – is strictly forbidden. But one day, lively Heinzel girl Helvi decides that she cannot stand the restriction of this little world any longer.

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Joanna Beresford – Every Year I am Here

Atlas Productions, Australia, 2020

This debut novel set in Brisbane in the 1890s provides the perfect vehicle for an author with the twin passions of history and social justice.

Joanna Beresford chooses for her heroine Lilian, a young working class woman from an immigrant background, who is forced to fend for herself in the quest for education and improved social standing – and often merely to survive.

Barbie speaks to Joanna Beresford about Every year I am Here
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Dreambuilders – Film Review

At Palace Electric, Dendy and Hoyts in Canberra from 7 January 2021
81 minutes, rated PG – Family

The premise of this originally Danish film (with American voicing) is that our dreams are a kind of sound stage managed by a group of benevolent creatures ensuring we wake in time to avert disaster.

The now rather common story line of a family blending with unlike children having to cope with a sudden unannounced coming together in a home setting, unprepared by previous meetings or outing, feels rather too derivative for my liking.

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A Call to Spy – Film Review

Palace Electric Canberra
Preview 20 December 2020 at 4.10pm
Nationally from 26 December

Running Time: 123 minutes, rated M

This fictionalised historical drama from the 2020 British Film Festival is inspired by real events, though it takes the liberty of throwing together characters whose paths did not actually cross.  

It is the story of three little-known female heroes of WWII, engaged in Churchill’s ring of female spies, who came under the umbrella of the Special Operations Executive (SOE) Their mission was to conduct sabotage and build a resistance.

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Dominic Knight – The 2020 Dictionary

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Known to television audiences as one of the founders of The Chaser, Dominic Knight is also the author of The Strayan Dictionary, Strayapedia and Trumpedia.

The 2020 Dictionary continues his satirical analysis of Australian culture, this time through a set of wry definitions of and observations upon aspects of this extraordinary year.

Dominic Knight talks about The 2020 Dictionary
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Canberra Sinfonia returns, and so does Lenny Weiss

Directed by Leonard Weiss
Natalie Nicolas & Lachner
Saturday 5 December at 2pm
Wesley Uniting Church, Forrest ACT
Tickets: $35 at canberrasinfonia.com

We are delighted to see Artistic Director Leonard Weiss conducting the Canberra Sinfonia again, having recently returned from studying conducting with Marin Alsop in the USA.

Prime goals for the Sinfonia are to give exceptional performances of chamber music, and to promote new music, primarily by Australian composers, as a core feature of their concerts.

Lenny Weiss talks about the Canberra Sinfonia concert on 5 December
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Tim Olsen – Son of the Brush – A Memoir

Allen & Unwin, Australia, 2020

Described as a memoir, Son of the Brush does indeed introduce us to some of the key figures of the art world in Australia in the 20th and 21st century,  in the context of the life of the author, son of painter John Olsen.

Tim Olsen grew up surrounded by people we now consider luminaries, but it is the personal, the candid appraisal of self and family that touched me most deeply in this book.

Barbie speaks with Tim Olsen
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Belinda Alexandra – The Divine Feline

(A Chic Lady’s Guide to Woman’s Best Friend)
Murdoch Books, Australia, 2020

This is a book that has enjoyed sumptuous production treatment with its striking fashion illustration style hard cover and velvety velour spine with cursive gold font. It is indeed an object of desire and worthy of its subject, the mystique of the cat.

Belinda Alexander talks about The Devine Feline
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Blanche d’Alpuget – The Cubs Roar

Ventura Press, Australia,  2020

This is the fifth of Blanche d’Alpuget’s Birth of the Plantagenets series and I confess that I come to it as a stand alone novel, not having yet read the four previous books. However, while reading the entire series is ideal and recommended, it is perfectly possible to enjoy this one alone.

Barbie talks to Blanche d”Alpuget about The Cubs Roar
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Joanna Nell – The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home

Hachette, Australia, 2020

This is the third of Joanna Nell’s novels, each of which explores aspects of ageing and particularly ageing for women. Jo writes with gentle humour, with compassion and respect, but never shirks from addressing the tough matter of this subject.

Barbie taoks to Joanna Nell about The Great Escape from Woodlands Nursing Home
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