The musical in Australia: Moving minorities into the mainstream

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Australian Genre Film, 2021, pp. 109-121
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As one of film’s oldest genres, musicals are typically expensive to make and dominated by large and wealthy markets like Hollywood. The Australian contribution to the genre has been significant, however, and this chapter focuses on two post-2000 musical films, Bran Nue Dae (Rachel Perkins, 2009) and The Sapphires (Wayne Blair, 2012) to examine what the genre can achieve. In doing so, it argues that it is important to consider what musicals do rather than what they are––with the process of representation and ‘meaning making’ fundamental to this chapter. Indeed, the genre foregrounds musical performance in a way that challenges traditional distinctions between diegetic and non-diegetic spaces, and in doing so can also challenge audience and artistic expectations about the content they feature on screen. With the films explored here, race, culture, and the complexities of representation are each presented with a depth that is seldom seen in the mainstream media.
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