Directory of World Cinema, Volume 19: Australia and New Zealand
Intellect (Footprint), $69 pb, 364 pp, 9781841506340
Careful readers will soon notice something puzzling about this book, an attractive large-format paperback with frequent colour illustrations. Staring accusingly from the cover is the young indigenous actor Rowan McNamara, one of the stars of Warwick Thornton's 2009 love story Samson & Delilah. The image seems aptly chosen: Thornton's film is an acknowledged landmark in twenty-first-century Australian cinema. But strangely, while Samson & Delilah receives a handful of fleeting mentions in the book, nowhere in the space of 300-plus pages is it discussed in any detail.
Adding to the riddle, Samson & Delilah was given equally cursory treatment in the previous Directory of World Cinema: Australia and New Zealand, published in 2010 by two of the same editors. Both directories are part of an ambitious series from Britain's Intellect Books, which ranges across the whole of world cinema; each volume focuses on a particular country or region, assembling brief essays and reviews by multiple writers. The format is deliberately piecemeal and rather unsatisfactory, at least if you are looking for a text that will cover the ground in a systematic way.