Every so often a film comes along that itches your mind in a way that you simply cannot escape. A couple of years ago, I watched the utterly stunning documentary Looby for the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. It soared into my favourite films of the year list, and ended up on the Best Australian Films of the 2010s list as well, where I had this to say:
As one of the more recent films on this list, and certainly one of the most underseen films too (having only had a screening at the great Melbourne Documentary Film Festival), I can understand why you may not have heard of Looby. But don’t let its unfamiliarity put you off, instead, make sure to put it right up near the top of your ‘to watch’ list, as Looby is one of the finest documentaries that Australia has produced over the past decade. Focusing on the extremely entertaining Keith Looby, this is a documentary that scrapes away the prestige of the Australian art world and looks at its guts and tries to find out what’s going on underneath. This is truly one heck of an entertaining film to watch, with larger than life characters making every moment a joy to watch.
It’s with great pleasure then that I can share this press release about the national tour that filmmakers are currently in the midst of undertaking. Now, while this tour of Aus and its arts galleries and museums is well under way, having kicked off in February, it’s worthwhile highlighting for the Perth folks the upcoming dates where they can catch this excellent film.
Head over to this link to find out where you can see Looby.
And now… the press release:
From Feb. to Dec. 2021, Looby is screening at up to 100 galleries and theatres to mark 100 years of the Archibald Prize.
Archibald Prize winner Keith Looby won major prizes at home and abroad.
Today his name and works are rarely seen.
Perhaps a habit of drawing colonialism, painting non-conformists and speaking up made Looby persona non grata? With sumptuous cinematography, candid interviews and a striking original score, LOOBY uncovers the life and work of an artist we need to remember.
Following interstate screenings, rave reviews at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival and a Sydney premiere at the National Art School, LOOBY is screening across Australia throughout 2021 from metropolitan galleries to regional theatres and outdoor screenings in the Top End.
Born in Sydney, Keith Looby entered the National Art School as a 15-year-old and graduated with an unmistakeable style that went on to win Australian painting’s highest plaudits including the Sulman, Blake and Archibald prizes. The latter with Max Gillies as Bob Hawke (above).
The 2021 tour starts on Friday 5 February at Casula Powerhouse in NSW, the current auspice of the Blake Prize which Looby won in 1973. Screenings continue throughout 2021 across every State and Territory.
Looby’s insistence on painting controversial figures – from communist Rupert Lockwood to feminist Anne Summers (left) – won him few friends in power.
Likewise, his illustrations on the horrors of colonialism – Black and White History of Australia – remain confronting today.
As the indigenous artist and frequent Archibald finalist Blak Douglas remarks, “In the sixties, when these were created, it was an incredibly gallant thing to be portraying this kind of imagery – because it wasn’t far off the referendum!”
LOOBY’s original score complements the mercurial moods of the man, while calm cinematography invites viewers to luxuriate in the striking figures and expansive scale of his work. LOOBY lets us all appreciate what establishment tastemakers no longer can.
What the critics said at the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival:
Andrew Peirce: “This right here is my pick of the fest. Do not miss Looby.”
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