A City's Child

A City’s Child (Brian Kavanagh, 1971) prod. Brian Kavanagh, 35 mm from 16mm, 80 min., wr. Don Battye, dp Bruce McNaughton, composer Peter Pinne, design Trevor Ling, ed. Brian Kavanagh; Monica Maughan, Sean Scully, Moira Carleton

A City’s Child is one of the only three films directed by editor Brian Kavanagh. Almost the only actor (a young Sean Scully is in it too) is Monica Maughan, whom I first met as a mature lady bowler in the charming Road to Nhill (Sue Brooks, 1997). Her character is described in summaries of the plot as ‘middle-aged’, tho MM was born in 1933, so hadn’t even turned 40. And that’s because she’s a desperate spinster who has fantasies involving Barbie and Ken, with a doll for their baby. It’s sad, and unimportant, but MM won an AFI for it. She was an MLC girl who was born in Tonga to missionary parents, which is irrelevant, but fascinating.

In the Australian Film Awards for 1971, Monica Maughan won the major acting prize and the film itself a bronze award for its 'gentle exploration of a neglected territory - a mind cut off from love'. Commercial distribution was not easily arranged. Pike & Cooper: 263.

A City’s Child ... actually the first feature film made with government support. ... feature length, and perhaps rather too slight a story for such a long film; but Kavanagh proves himself adept at unsettling the audience and keeps several surprises up his sleeve ... Stratton: 276, 277.


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