jonathan auf der heide's debut feature was one of the best things i saw last year. it recounts the true story of a group of convicts who escape from a penal colony into the wilds of tasmania in 1822. it has some things in common with werner herzog's early work in south america, dealing primarily with man reverting to his most base state when faced with unforgiving, overwhelming nature. beautifully photographed and well acted, it is a grim survival document. right now, it is only available as an import and not in a u.s.-friendly format. with any luck, that will change soon. those of you with all-region players would do well to track it down. but wait to eat until after.
when it comes to international cinema, things are frequently cyclical. one country will move to the fore then be overtaken as someone else, somewhere else strikes out in exciting new directions. for the past couple of years the australians have been just killing it. in this case, killing it and eating it. this week's entry is for van diemen's land (2009).