If you follow my picks for this site, Alice, Adelaide might seem like an odd choice for my personal sensibilities. To be blunt, I’m on documentary burn out—the online landscape is flooded with nonfiction content. If you watch as many shorts as I do, it all starts to blur together, every profile piece feels the same, every portrait doc feels like it was constructed using some sort of template from 2013.
So, why I am recommending a 20 minute, meditative documentary character piece that doesn’t really have a defined narrative drive? Well, it’s hard to quantify exactly, but Alice, Adelaide just works. Much like the oeuvre of Sean Dunne (a filmmaker we here at SotW unabashedly love), it’s a film that uses individual portraits of various people to craft the larger tapestry of a community. Seemingly disparate conversations with “salt of the Earth” Australians formulates a larger, emotive whole. The result is a piece that’s about nothing specifically, but, through the hopes and desires of its on-camera subjects, ends up being about almost everything (yes, I give you permission to roll your eyes). That may seem like a cheesy sentiment, but Alice, Adelaide captures so much of what makes humans…well….human. And, it does it all through the eyes of rural Australians.
The style is lyrical and patient. Now, I should make the distinction: patient doesn’t mean boring. In a way, Alice, Adelaide almost becomes anthropological in nature—each interviewee exudes a different, rich personality. The film may have a longer runtime, but it’s clearly well-edited, every interaction trimmed down to only its best portions.
“We didn’t have a plan, we were open to anything, letting the characters and stories we found influence our travels.”
In communicating with filmmakers Blair Macdonald & Oliver Clark (together formulating the directing duo, Novemba), it seems the similarity to Sean Dunne’s work was intentional. As Macdonald relates, “Sean Dunne’s Florida Man was an inspiration in style. We didn’t have a plan, we were open to anything, letting the characters and stories we found influence our travels.”
And, so the duo traveled from Alice Springs to Adelaide—around 2000km in total—stopping at various towns, road houses, and campsites along the way. All in, it seems like a very romantic cinematic experience: two filmmakers, a camera, and an open road through the Australian outback. That is, apart from their beloved drone, which didn’t survive the trip after it crashed into a cliff at full speed!
As for what’s next, both Macdonald and Clark are currently finishing a feature documentary about Amir Khan, the British boxer. They followed him for over 2 years and are editing the project. The film will be released early next year. Check out the short teaser here.