Keep Stepping Director Luke Cornish Talks About His Path from Editing Dora the Explorer Promos to Making a Documentary About Street Dancing in This Interview

Through his work as a director, Luke Cornish shows a growing curiosity and interest in the world around him, making his interest in the street dance scene in Sydney the perfect subject for his feature documentary debut: Keep Stepping. This is an exciting look at two female performers in Australia competitive street dance competition: Patricia, a Romanian-born breakdancer hoping for an Australian visa, finding energy and strength in her dance routines, and the Chilean-Samoan Gabi who injects her culture into her street popping dance style.

But Keep Stepping is not Luke’s first encounter with documentary storytelling, having worked on the successful Amazon series Unheard and making waves with his short film Alone Out Here, which looked at a gay Australian farmer dealing with the conservative industry he works within.

In this interview, recorded ahead of the Sydney Film Festival launch, Luke talks about his documentary style, where his interest in street dancing began, what it means to present a sub-culture like street dancing on screen, and what his journey to being a documentarian looked like. The interview took place via Zoom, which helped create a launching point for the discussion to kick off with exploring emotions and inadequacies.

This interview has been edited for clarity purposes.

Keep Stepping is currently screening at the Sydney Film Festival.

This is just recording for the audio so I can use it later on to transcribe the interview. So don’t stress about how you’re looking or stuff.

Luke Cornish: Good stuff, good stuff. I actually really appreciate this process because I like to record my interviews with subjects before I meet them in general. And I find it really helps. It helps me get my script together, then I transcribe it all. Even when I write pitch decks and stuff to commissioners, I’ll include quotes from the actual interviews of the subjects as opposed to making it all up. Often people say things better than I could write them.

I’ve just finished doing a book on Australian film where I had interviewed a whole bunch of people in 2021. And looking over some of the answers that people give, sometimes you feel a little bit inadequate. Like geez, I could never come up with some of the things that people say.

LC: My understanding is that feeling inadequate is like such an easy go to emotion. It’s generally how I feel about most things.

It’s interesting – when we think about emotions, it’s often the negative ones that people feel are easy to relate to, the feeling of inadequacy, the feeling of not being enough. I found that really interesting with Keep Stepping, how people are able to bring themselves out in their art, whether it be dancing, whatever creative endeavor, and then they find that positive emotional connection that people can relate to. Because it’s so easy to be like, “Oh I feel inadequate. I feel like crap.” And then people go, “Yeah, I feel that way too,” and just sitting in that negativity. But finding that positivity is so important. And that was really nice to see in the film.

LC: Thanks for saying that. It’s actually so interesting that you’ve just brought that exact point up, because the film’s got two very different characters that it focuses on. And I cycled through and met a lot of dancers whilst trying to find them. That’s one of the reasons the film took so long to make. Because I had a bunch of different people and I kept on being surprised and having my expectations completely dashed.

When I would meet these street dancers, these people who battle all the time and I see their work, their performance, and it’s extroverted, it’s powerful, it’s confident, and then they were so meek in real life. I met all these very introverted people – which I’m very interested in, I share a lot of those personality traits myself, so I’m drawn to them. But I also know it’s very hard to tell a story with those people because they are living an internal life. And as a documentary maker, I’m looking at people who are able to live that internal life on the outside.

It took me a long time to find Patricia who is the one who’s like, “Put the person in front of me, I will eat them alive.” I met her filming a battle and I had a baseball cap on, I had the camera here [in my hands]. And in slow motion – I’ve got the footage, it’s not in the film – there’s a knock to my camera as someone peeled the baseball cap off my head, she puts it on her head and then appears in the frame backlit with sun coming through. And that’s just how she presents herself to me, to the world. And I was like, “Okay, you’re interesting, and I want to speak to you.” She was definitely an easy subject to follow in that regard.

Take me back to like the first day of shooting and knowing that you had the story.

LC: It took a long time to know I had the story, I will say that for sure. [It took] seven years from when it began to the post-production phase. Because I have – this is awkward to say, right, but this is the truth – produced this film, shot this film, wrote the film, put it through all its development stages, and edited it. I did every single role on this with a little bit of help from some extra camera people and stuff like that on the bigger events. So that’s one of the reasons it took so long.

The very first day was me as a little kid, wishing I was a breakdancer. That was the very first day, and I literally used to get in the circle and my sister’s friends who were ten years older than me would do that “Go Luke, go Luke.” So this is like a lifelong passion of mine.

I’m from London originally, flew over here, settled in, was working for MTV. And I was just like, “Where is the youth culture here?” In London, it’s so pronounced, that sort of strong vibrant music scene, dance scene. I was going to dance battles, rap battles, everything, my friends were all in that world. I get to Australia and I’m like, “Where is that? Where is that?”

I live near the CBD [in Sydney]. And I was actually at a movie at the Event [Cinema] on George Street, which is where this is premiering so it’s cool, it all kind of ties in. And I was heading home, genuinely like moody, cold, dark night, the rain was pouring down. And I go past the courthouse on Liverpool Street which is one of the practice spots for the breakdancers. They practice there Monday to Thursday at nighttime, and it’s all lit up and the floor’s like really amazing.

It’s kind of an interesting thing. It’s a courthouse, but they’re actually allowed to perform there. And I go past them and I think, “Oh look, there is a version of this thing that I’m familiar with in London and I desperately want to tell a story about it.” Went in, introduced myself to them, met a character whose B-boy name is Big Johnson. And he immediately said to me, “Oh, you’re a documentary maker. That’s great. We should take you to our leader.”

There is like a spokesperson and a leader of their crew, really a leader of the Australian street dance scene – not self-professed, the title has been given to him, – and that’s Joe who’s in the film, who runs Destructive Steps, the main competition. From day one, I was introed to him, and he has been the linchpin connecting me to everybody else. His co-sign, his blessing was my blessing in the scene of “This guy’s good,” because he’s pretty strict about who he lets in. So once I was tight with him, everything was kind of available to me.

Gabi and partner

I’ve found with these kinds of films that look into subcultures, that the people whom the film is about, they often just seem so grateful that somebody is actually telling this story, actually inviting a wider audience in. I get the impression that that was the case here as well.

LC: Oh my god, massively. Massively. I had about ten people who are in the film over to my house. I’ve got a projector [and] they got the first screening. They have been so patient, waiting for this and believing that it would come off. Because I wasn’t able to say, “The ABCs backed me, this is definitely going to end up somewhere.” It was an exercise in trust and even more so in faith from all of us.

One of the reasons why this film was called Keep Stepping is it has accidentally been a message to me of keep going, carry on. Even though there’s no definite pot of gold at the end, or maybe no one’s going to see it. Maybe you can’t even make it. This is my debut feature. I didn’t know if I could pull it off. I was just trying to believe that I could pull it off.

The journey of the film is my journey, too. The journey of the dancers is what I relate to in them. It’s like they’re passionate, there’s no money, they’re doing it for love. They’re doing it because they believe in it, and they’re doing it because it’s a way for them to express themselves. And I felt all of those urges as I was going through, and it’s perhaps why I focused on those elements of their stories as opposed to other bits. I would like to think it’s a big fat soppy love letter to the dancing, to art, to creativity, to just like doing it, to doing it for yourself, regardless of whatever obvious pathways there are to support and to help you.

One of the other aspects is the migrant experience in the story, which is something that you will be able to connect to, coming from London to Australia, and being able to show different cultures, different identities through dance. It is such a varied thing to be able to express yourself through physicality, through music. Was that something that you discovered as you were going along filming and resonated with?

LC: I definitely discovered it as I was going. It also helped to form more of a backbone of a parallel journey for them. And that’s what I was looking at. Of course, in the documentary process, your subjects have so many things happening in their lives. And some of the editorial choices that you actually bring as a filmmaker are the bits that maybe are more representative of me as opposed to just 100% this is the life that is being lived. It is your choice to focus on different things.

I found that the relationship story between Patricia and her partner, and Gabi and her partner was an interesting parallel, because they’re opposite. And I found that they were both faced with the problems that being from a non-Western background or [coming from] a migrant background, the things that those identity issues bring to the fore was something they were both dealing with themselves.

The thing I would say that I can’t relate to in the film and the thing that was so interesting to me, is that Gabi’s identity issues around her background are obviously totally different to mine. Patricia’s got a visa situation, which in so many ways I was with her. I was refused my visa, I had to go through a whole court process to get access to the things I wanted. But it was still so much easier for me. I’ve got mine, Patricia’s still trying to get hers fixed. She’s only through one layer. Even at the end of the film, she gets it, she’s so happy, but she’s still waiting for it to be finalised and to go through its process.

Patricia’s white, I’m white. But she’s from Romania, and Romania is not Britain, and we are not treated the same. It’s been so much easier for me. Even though it was tricky for me, it’s nothing like her. She’s gone through far greater hurdles than I have. Even English as a second language is a hurdle for work. The doors were just opened for me in a way that they weren’t for her. So, yeah, I had some nuts-and-bolts crossover in my life. But it was still very different.

Let’s go back to your work as a filmmaker and the way you’ve progressed throughout your career. Working with Nickelodeon and then Unheard, which is a fantastic series, and now this [which] has been simmering around in the background; what’s been your drive as a creative person, both in TV and documentaries?

LC: I love this question. Like I’ve got no idea how I’m going to answer it. This is so cool, because no one’s actually asked me about the unusual path that I’ve taken. And I would say that I have wanted to make documentaries for a very, very, very long time. I fell into children’s television because it was first of all a pathway for me to work in this country, and then it was a pathway for me to get into a creative profession in this country.

So I became a producer at Nickelodeon. Before that, I was filing tapes at MTV, I was super back office. I never had any possibility of a big career. I never had it in London, I didn’t finish university. I had no prospects in that regard. And it wasn’t till I got to Australia that I really got to see, “Okay, there’s a job in front of me.” I like the look of it, even though I’m not massively into that content, let’s just say, but it taught me what to do. It taught me how to edit and how to approach story and all those things.

Another reason this film took seven years to make is because when I started producing at Nickelodeon, I started doing this film on the weekends, too. So this entire film has been [going] whilst I got a job as a producer, whilst I worked a very, very stressful job – even though it was children’s television, it was stressful. And so this film has been my creative passion.

It’s literally been a weekend and evening kind of job for me, whilst trying to get everything else in life taken care of. And the thing that kept me going was this belief of like, “Okay, yeah, I’m making reality TV,” – I was doing a lot of that at Nickelodeon, and that isn’t what I wanted to do. But having this in the background and knowing they were feeding off each other, because I was getting better in that job and then I was improving my documentary. I guess it’s all helped me. I know it’s an unusual path. But that tone has always been what I’ve wanted to do from the beginning.

I love hearing about people who do talk about filmmaking as a job. Because while a lot of people talk about the passionate side which is clearly the thing that drives most creative people, we don’t talk often enough about the work side of it, it being a job and treating it like a job. So it’s really comforting to be able to hear you say, “No, I did this as producer. And maybe it’s not exactly the field that I want to be working in.” But it pays the bills and it afforded you the opportunity to do Keep Stepping. How do you keep that in your mind every single day? Is it coming home and knowing that “All right, now is my time, now I can focus on my passion project?”

LC: It goes back to the thing you mentioned at the beginning which is it’s easy for me to feel ‘less than’ in these situations, because I haven’t had that clear pathway to this. And for me, I just arrive at things [and I’m] incredibly grateful. Basically, I was super grateful that they would give me a creative job. I mean, even a job at Nickelodeon. It took me two years to persuade them to give that to me, and I’m like editing Dora the Explorer promos.

But I was so grateful because I never saw that as an option for me in the past. That has changed to a degree and I’ve grown through that. There’s something I learned when I took that job at Nickelodeon, and a friend of mine was talking to me about being a creative artist, he [does] paintings. And he was saying, “You have to sell yourself, to do that.” And I’m like there’s a discipline when you are forced to publish your work all the time, even though you didn’t have the resource, you weren’t ready, you were out of your depth, you didn’t have the support you needed at the time, and there’s a deadline and then there’s a load of people that will judge you for it, and you’re in that churn, and you just get better and better and better and better.

I see that sometimes the other version, the artist’s version where you could sit and brood, that doesn’t necessarily work well for me. I don’t want to be told I’ve got an open brief and I could do anything I want. That’s very scary. (laughs)

What does limitation look like for you, then? Being told you’ve got an open brief for a lot of people sounds exciting, like “Great, I can do whatever I want.” But what is a restriction for you that works?

LC: A restriction that works for me – I like to think if no one’s giving it to me, the ways in which I would find it myself would be to try to understand what I want to say next, how I want to achieve that message in a very entertaining and enjoyable fashion, because I do believe you need to do both. I’ve dealt with a few very troubling subjects, which I’m very drawn to.

Before Unheard, I did a film called Alone Out Here which was about a gay farmer. The theme of the film is loneliness. It’s not upbeat. But you try and find your angles in to make sure people at least enjoy the experience whilst they don’t shy away from the sad stuff. I guess I immediately start putting those boundaries around myself. I’m going “Okay, so what I want to say [has] normally the moodier kind of element to it or the emotional element”, which is really what interests me in life. And then, “Okay, how am I going to make that enjoyable, palatable, and able to actually reach more than just a tiny audience?” Which some of the more like arthousey films that deal with those serious topics — you know, they get stuck within that space.

And it’s also just not reflective of my personality, which is both very emotional and very up for like a deep and meaningful breakdown of a conversation. But also, I want to have fun.

By accident, all my films end up looking the same. If you pulled away all of the peripheral [stuff, it] doesn’t matter if one’s about racism, one’s about dance, one’s about a gay farmer. They’re all doing the same thing, which is basically dealing with the harder stuff in life with an optimistic outlook and a hopeful outlook. And I didn’t even know I was doing that at the time. I was like, “Oh wow, they’re all the same.”

When did that realisation hit?

LC: I did a couple of videos on people with terminal illness. And one of them — it was with someone with motor neuron disease, obviously incredibly tragic. We get there, the woman can barely speak. We filmed anyway, we filmed her family, her husband who’s basically saying, “I will help her go if I need to, and if you want to arrest me, arrest me.” Yet still, I finished that film. And of course, the burden of responsibility of the family and the organisation I was making it for and then the Sydney Morning Herald meeting the family, putting them on the front page.

That was the beginning of the [NSW voluntary assisted dying] bill that just passed. Day one was with that family. A politician called Trevor Khan actually saw the video, went to meet them, and brought them into Parliament and went “This is the bill in their name.” So I’m like, “Okay, this stuff is like so powerful.” But I was being warned in a nice way from people that “Be careful, you’re very empathetic, you’re going to find it really hard to do these kinds of videos with people who are dying.” And I’m like, “Wow, they’re so optimistic though.”

Even though they literally are saying, “I am terminally ill, I want to take my own life,” I still somehow by accident told a story that had a very hopeful ending, because none of the people were scared. You know? And that starts to trigger this, “Why is this happening?”

Then I moved on to do Alone Out Here, and the same thing happened. It was after that that really sunk in. These are very disparate different types of stories, yet the thing you’re left with is the same. The feeling, maybe.

You were talking about editing Dora The Explorer, and that’s got a certain energy and vibrancy and life. And then I’m watching Keep Stepping, and the energy in there both in the way you’ve shot it, but the editing in particular reflects what’s on screen. How do you go about creating that kind of energy? Is it finding it in the edit suite?

LC: It’s totally finding it in the edit suite. I am hardcore into editing, hardcore. I don’t understand how people make films that don’t edit, because I just never learned how to do that. Again, I began as a more introverted [person] – ‘be a producer, be a creative, but don’t direct because it’s too scary or you don’t know what you’re doing’. But editing was like, “Okay, I could spend as long as I want getting this right.” All my skills were built from the edit originally, editing other people’s content. And so I start building it up and I’m like, “How does it work?”

I’m very, very, very, very, very musical. This is my big thing. I take a long time to pick the tracks and I cut the tracks in a particular way. I try to create these peaks and troughs of emotion just from the music itself. So all those skills and those interests plugged into this project perfectly, and I definitely wanted to keep that sense of vibrancy and energy and make sure the dance felt like a good match.

For writers, we’re terrified of editors in a way. Because words are precious, and we get a little bit emotional and protective about them. How is it editing your own work? Do you feel the same kind of way? Or is there an excitement in being able to see the real product and then shape it into what you finally see on screen?

LC: All of the above. I’m sure there’s a worse critic out there for me, but I’ve definitely been the harshest on myself. That’s why it’s taken so long to do this. This film didn’t just take seven years because it took that long to find the right characters and all that. I literally learnt how to make films whilst making this film. There is footage that will never see the light of day because it is so bad. It has nothing to do with the subjects and everything to do with me.

The edit process was the same. I had never cut a feature before and so I was going into it [with] all of this theoretical information, I’m really into story, I’m really into structure. I studied it, my partner’s into story structure, we talk about it all the time. My mum’s into creative writing. It’s like my whole conversation outside of this is about this. It still didn’t work.

When I went to cut the film, the pieces didn’t make sense. And so I had to go through a very huge iterative process where I spent many, many, many months disliking my work –  which is the same thing as disliking myself –, and gave myself a really hard time and started work at 3am on multiple nights. Actually, if it wasn’t for COVID stopping all work, I would never have had the capacity to go through the 115th version of the edit of this film and say, “That’s not good enough. There’s another pass. There’s another pass.” So, yeah, I give myself a really hard time. And I want to like it. I don’t want someone else to tell me it’s good enough. I want to make sure that I know it’s good enough myself so when people tell me, I believe them.

It’s there on screen, it’s an enjoyable film. It comes back to the energy. It comes back to walking away from it feeling energised and excited. You’re honouring an art form and the artists that are creating it. Something I really enjoyed about it was getting to see those rooms of people on the same level as the dancers. And they’re all on their knees, just so excited. In a way, I feel like you’re like that behind the camera, on your knees, so excited.

LC: Oh my god, I feel so seen.

What next? You’ve honoured something that you’ve clearly grown-up loving. Do you continue exploring this scene?

LC: Interesting you ask this because I am currently in the process of a big series version involving dance. I can’t talk about it properly. But it’s definitely the next step from this project and it speaks perfectly to where I was in making this and now I’m doing an even bigger version of it. The people who came to speak to me about it originally, they know about my work here like on the on the street dance scene, and that’s the reason why they’ve approached me. So it’s already paid off for me in a lot of ways. As long as I can make sure I get this project up, because it isn’t signed off yet. The next one is still in dance, that’s for sure.

Patricia at work

Have you been able to reconnect with that dancing side of yourself?

LC: Oh my gosh. Gabi, who is a body popper as a discipline, she was literally giving me private classes down at ICC which is the entertainment centre in Sydney where they all practice at night. It’s like an outdoor area. She was taking me down there once a week to do body popping lessons. And this is after the film is finished, everything’s done. So yeah, for sure, I’m still there.

Even the dancers are amazed because I was editing the film. I watch all these battles online anyway, I watch them from all over the world, I do it in my spare time as well as in my professional life. Also one of the dancers has taught me a baby freeze, which is like a breakdance move which is actually really hard. It doesn’t look that hard but then I started to realise that this is much more difficult than even they make it look. So yeah, I still want to be a breakdancer. I still want to be a street dancer, let’s just say.

I love the way you open the film which is seeing Patricia trying to practice a spin. I was sitting there, transfixed by it, and I rewatched that opening again because it’s so powerful to see somebody practicing. The effort that goes into making something look easy is fascinating. How important is it for you to show the process of making something look easy?

LC: Ah, it’s so important. Because in a film that isn’t necessarily dangerous, it actually helps the audience understand that there’s a difficulty level which is essential for storytelling, anyway. Where’s the jeopardy? This is not a story about somebody fleeing a conflict, for example. So you are looking as a storyteller: how do I demonstrate that there’s a clear objective for these people, that that they are going to exercise will in order to achieve that objective?

The classic story principles I operate on are: Whose story is it? What do they want? And why can’t they get it? So I’m going into these situations and really picking my subjects because I hear that expressed. Once I hear that expressed, I know that I can tell a story about them. After you’ve got interested in the world that you want to peer into and then showcase, that’s where the character journey stuff comes from.

I showed a proof of concept to someone at one stage in this process who’s a very experienced documentary-maker, and he said something to me like he had expected to see a music video because that’s what he had seen in the past in this sort of space. And I’m like, “But this is a character piece.” The dance has to be the icing on the cake for me. I would like people to come away from it and go, “Oh my god, the dancing was amazing. That’s what I enjoyed about the film.” But I’ll know secretly that they only got to enjoy the dance to the extent that they would have because I did a good job of showcasing the characters who executed that performance.

Obviously trying to skirt away from spoilers, but the marriage of finding out who the person is and the dance is such a powerful thing. What was it like experiencing that and the importance of showing that blend?

LC: I have goosebumps remembering [that bit]. Hearing you say it is really taking me back there. Because okay, I’ve spoken a lot about the craft and how much I needed to do to put the film together. The amazing thing that happens and the true kind of ‘wow’ moments in the film are what I called gifts. And that is when your subject is doing something that is just insane and it needs no support from me. That was Gabi.

I actually met Gabi while she was battling somebody, as opposed to Patricia who, as I told you, she kind of grabbed my cap while I was filming. Gabi was someone who I went, “Her. She’s it. She’s absolutely it.” I had no idea about her personality. I had no idea about her character. But I just knew from a dance perspective that I was so blown away by her performance. And even though I have tried to showcase it in a film, it’s not even as good as it is in real life because she’s so exceptional. And the stuff that she was doing in terms of this new version of dance battling that you see in the film. That is just like more layers of interest for me.

It’s also a perfect way to wrap up a story as well. You must have known at that point that “All right, cool. We’ve got the end of Gabi’s story here.” What was that like to know that?

LC: Amazing for the experience of it. However, there were parts of me that never knew that it was the end until about two months ago. That was a long time coming. Interestingly, the scene you’re talking about with Gabi that completes the film, that was the first thing that went into the edit. When I put the timeline up, that was there, and I knew I was going to in that regard, and that helped me make a lot of choices, like I said, as opposed to things you want to focus on [like] the conversations.

In a way, [the filming] was like therapy sessions with me and them so often. I felt guilty because they’d say, “Luke, you’re such a good listener.” And I’d think “Yes, it’s my job to listen to you.” It’s a space to give people that they never get, to just go “What is happening for you? And how did that feel?” There were so many things we discussed, I kept it quite loose. But then having that end point for Gabi, I knew okay, those conversations where she spoke so brilliantly about the struggle that she had as somebody from a dual identity. She literally has taken that and manifested it into something exceptional in her art. So it was a no-brainer really going into that.

Gabi popping

What are you hoping for and looking forward to with the Sydney Film Festival?

LC: Three things. I want everyone to enjoy the film as much as I did. I want it to be a celebration, which I think it will be, and for the dancers to feel that, to know that they were brave enough to put their stories on the line. I mean, the things some of them were talking about I know were awkward for them. Patricia’s arguing with her boyfriend on camera. She was not cool about that when it happened. But afterwards – Patricia is the most amazing person. She was worried about having had that argument on camera. And I told her, “This is part of the process. We’re just going to let this stuff unfold.” She came back to me and said, “Okay, I’ll go on this journey with you. Let me see who I am when this is finished.” And I’m like, “You are so brave, you are so brave.” She wanted to learn about who she was through me filming her. I want them to have all of the validation.

And I want them to have all the love, and just to have that experience of like you did something important for the people who get to see this film. And for the Sydney scene, I want that to be turned into material benefits for them. I want them to get booked, I want them to be taken more seriously. I want someone with influence and power to make some financial – not offering but I want there to be more of a financial opportunity for them in the future and for this to have a tiny bit of influence on that.

Whether it’s a corporate gig and people see the need to book it, or whether there’s someone from City of Sydney who knows that they’re going to give them a grant because of all of the amazing work they’re doing, I feel like this can have impact for them like that. And the third thing is that I would like for this film to get picked up by someone and shown to a broader audience. That’s what I want. It does not have a home at the moment. And I want it to have a home.

Damned straight. I’m hopeful for all of that for you, and Patricia and Gabi.

You’re coming from British background here in Australia making Australian films, telling Australian stories. What does that mean for you as a creative person?

LC: So interesting. My partner works in Australian film as well so I think a lot about the industry here and I thought a lot about what I can offer. And I have learned that being from England gives me a particular sensibility which I tried to bring here and try to show. My Australian friend who watched Keep Stepping said to me – she does not like this kind of content, right? She’s not into it, she likes period dramas. She said, “Oh my god, I would not believe that this was set in Sydney.” She doesn’t like Australian content in general. She’s a bit snooty about stuff like that. And she went, “I would not believe this film was shot here.”

That was so an intention of mine to go, “I live in this country. And I can see that internationally, people have a very one-sided version of Australia.” It’s Home and Away, it’s the beach version, or it’s the outback version. It isn’t like, for example, this is an urban city with all these different people with the same kind of graffiti and urban decay and that kind of whole aesthetic. I guess coming from another country, you realise what Australia might look like internationally, and I wanted to defy that.

I wanted to say to my English friends who are like “Australia is not cool, Australia is this, Australia is that, Australia’s got a monoculture,” all the things I heard. It doesn’t, actually. You should try living there and see for yourself. Of course, some of those things might have some nugget of truth in there. But it doesn’t do justice to how broad a country is actually. I guess that’s what it means to me to tell Australian stories. I’m trying to show the world what I’ve seen here as a foreigner.

Andrew F Peirce

Andrew is passionate about Australian film and culture. He is the co-chair of the Australian Film Critics Association, a Golden Globes voter, and the author of two books on Australian film, The Australian Film Yearbook - 2021 Edition, and Lonely Spirits and the King. You can find him online trying to enlist people into the cult of Mac and Me.

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