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Aussie Classic 'Wake in Fright' Rediscovered & Restored: Drafthouse Acquires for US Release this October

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood July 19, 2012 at 2:31PM

"Wake in Fright" goes to Drafthouse Films for US theatrical release after many thought it was lost. The thriller is considered a landmark film in the development of modern Australian cinema; it first debuted at Cannes in 1971 where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or. In 2009, guest-curator Martin Scorsese brought a restoration back to the fest.
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Wake in Fright
wake in fright

"Wake in Fright" goes to Drafthouse Films for US theatrical release after many thought it was lost. The thriller is considered a landmark film in the development of modern Australian cinema; it first debuted at Cannes in 1971 where it was nominated for the Palme d'Or. In 2009, guest-curator Martin Scorsese brought a restoration back to the fest. Directed by Ted Kotcheff ("Rambo: First Blood"), the film will be released fully restored at New York's Film Forum on October 5 and Los Angeles' Nuart Theater October 19. It will expand and be available on VOD in early 2013.

The story follows a British schoolteacher's "descent into personal demoralization at the hands of drunken, deranged derelicts while stranded in a small town in outback Australia." Drafthouse's Evan Husney states that Kotcheff's "masterwork" is one of their favorites, calling it a "stunning and dreadfully creepy film inspired a generation of accomplished Aussie filmmakers."

More on its restoration below:

Believed to be lost for many years, Wake In Fright was restored after an exhaustive decade-long search for original film elements.  Fortuitously, the negative was unearthed in Pittsburgh, PA, in canisters marked for destruction just one week away from its impending incineration.  The materials were then restored frame-by-frame at Sydney's AtLab Deluxe with the aid of the National Film and Sound Archives of Australia.

This article is related to: Alamo Drafthouse, News, Classics, Foreign


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.