By Peg Aloi
Released in 1975, this film put Australia on the world cinematic map. Nicolas Roegâ€™s Walkabout (1971) intrigued audiences plenty, but it was an English production. With Picnic at Hanging Rock, director Peter Weir, cinematographer Russell Boyd and producers Patricia Lovell and Jim and Hal McElroy created a production that demonstrated what is possible when a nation decides to fund filmmaking as an art form: schools, production companies and theatres aspired to a high level of achievement and professionalism in this golden era. Sadly many Australian filmmakers and stars have strayed to the golden California coast, including Weir, as well as Phil Noyce, Bruce Beresford, Rachel Griffiths, Naomi Watts, Russell Crowe and others. But it was this subtle, eerily beautiful arthouse period piece that built a rich proving ground for them to get their start.