Swinburne University of Technology is proud to join ACMI, the University of Pittsburgh and RMIT University to present a brand new film season, Focus on the Dead, a spotlight on seven exclusive films spanning half a century of modern zombie cinema and beyond.
Screening this autumn at Australia’s national museum of screen culture from 16 March to 2 April, the event aims to unpick the evolution of the zombie film and interrogate the links of the subgenre to the personal and political.
Exploring the global phenomenon of horror cinema
Accompanying the focus season, Swinburne is also co-presenting a two-day conference, Mapping Global Horror: Australia, Japan and Beyond. Hosted on 17 and 18 March at ACMI, the program provides an opportunity to delve right into the horror.
The Mapping Global Horror conference provides a rare chance for screen industry professionals, academics, and horror fans to delve into a genre that is as popular as it is socially and culturally significant worldwide. With Australia and Japan’s connections with horror being the forefront of discussion, conference organiser and Lecturer in Cinema and Screen Studies at Swinburne, Dr Andrew Lynch, said the conversations and workshops across the two days will cover a breadth of new and revitalised themes and ideas, such as women in horror and folk horror.
“As well as tracing how the horror genre has been shaped by such transcultural anxieties, the event showcases the key role of both Japan and Australia – and even Melbourne specifically – in horror’s operations as both a global genre and a global community.”
A global journey of the undead
Curated by Reece Goodwin, Focus on the Dead will include the Australian premiere of George A. Romero’s seminal Dawn of the Dead 3D, painstakingly restored frame-by-frame from the original theatrical release.
“Unbound from the zombie film genre, this spine-tingling film season offers an exciting and thought-provoking exploration of the horror genre and its many forms”, said Goodwin.
Starting the horrific season of screenings is George A. Romero’s original Trilogy of the Dead, a revolutionary series of zombie films that began with Night of the Living Dead (1968), followed by Dawn of the Dead (1978) – newly restored 3D version – and Day of the Dead (1985).
A precursor to the zombie film as we know it today, The Last Man on Earth (1964) is credited as being a major influence on George Romero and his genre-defining vision of slow-moving zombies. Based on the book I Am Legend by Richard Matheson, the film has developed a cult following, offering crisp black-and-white photography and eerie Rome-filmed streetscapes.
Atlantics (2019) © mk2 Films.
French-Senegalese director Mati Diop makes her feature film debut with Atlantics (2019), an enchanting drama tiptoeing around the horror genre. The beguiling story of profound loss follows up on Diop’s short film of the same name about a group of Senegalese men embarking on a perilous sea voyage – now shifting focus to the woman left behind. Premiering at the Cannes Film Festival in 2019, Mati Diop became the first woman of colour to have a film screening in competition.
From slow to fast zombies, a key program highlight is Yeon Sang-ho’s South Korean action-horror, Train to Busan (2016). Praised as one of the best modern zombie films of all time, the film follows a man and his estranged daughter who become trapped on a speeding train during a zombie outbreak in South Korea.
Tickets for both Focus on the Dead and Mapping Global Horror are now on sale. For full program details, visit acmi.net.au.
In 2019, Swinburne became ACMI’s major academic partner to provide rich and diverse opportunities for collaborative programming, research and thought leadership. The first year of the four-year partnership was successful in establishing cross-collaboration opportunities and fostering institutional linkages that will continue to deepen as the partnership evolves.