Strictly Ballroom selected for Cannes Classics

National Film and Sound Archive of Australia

Baz Luhrmann’s breakout success Strictly Ballroom will return to Cannes 30 years after its midnight screening at the festival in 1992 that saw it become an instant sensation. The restoration will enjoy its world Premiere in Cannes Classics 2022 and its Australian premiere in the upcoming 69th Sydney Film Festival.

Faithfully restored by the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) in partnership with Spectrum Films, the project is the latest title in the ongoing NFSA Restores program. Strictly Ballroom is the first Australian film selected for Cannes Classics since Wake in Fright (1971) in 2009.

Cannes is where it all began for Strictly Ballroom. Generating extended standing ovations and a bidding war over international rights, it was the buzz of the 1992 Festival, winning the Prix De Jeunesse (Award of the Youth Prize). Grossing $80m at the worldwide box office, it went on to become one of the most successful Australian films of all time.

Bazmark’s latest film Elvis, starring Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, also has its world premiere at the 2022 Cannes Film Festival. Bazmark films Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatsby previously opened the Cannes Film Festival in 2001 and 2013 respectively.

Director and co-writer Baz Luhrmann reflected on the significance of Strictly Ballroom returning to the Festival. “It would have been beyond my imagining thirty years ago when our little film was plucked almost magically to be screened in Un Certain Regard at the 12 o’clock screening, that exactly thirty years later I would be returning to the Festival de Cannes, having previously opened the festival twice with my films, and now this year with ELVIS. (see Director’s statement below)

NFSA CEO, Patrick McIntyre, said “The NFSA Restores program not only brings classic Australian films back to brilliant life technically, but also gives audiences an opportunity to re-engage with favourite movies and re-appraise their impact. It allows us to shine a light on the incredibly diverse achievements of Australian filmmaking over time, with previous NFSA Restores titles including Charles Chauvel’s Three Days to Live (1924), Gillian Armstrong’s Starstruck (1982), and most recently Rachael Perkin’s directorial debut Radiance (1998) and Clara Law’s Floating Life (1996). We couldn’t be more excited that the restored Strictly Ballroom will feature at Cannes alongside the premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis, illustrating a truly extraordinary career arc.”

NFSA Chief Curator Gayle Lake said, “The NFSA is delighted to have partnered with Baz, producer Tristram Miall and Spectrum Films on this restoration, and we’re honoured for it to be selected in the Cannes Classics. In 1992 the film signalled the emergence of an incredible creative originality coming out of Australia which has consistently exploded on international screens over the past thirty years.”

Strictly Ballroom also features in NFSA’s Australians & Hollywood exhibition in Canberra, with spectacular costumes from Moulin Rouge! and Catherine Martin’s art concept books for Romeo + Juliet on display. https://www.nfsa.gov.au/hollywood

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