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Storyline (warning: spoilers)
This fascinating documentary celebrates the life and work of film editor Jill Bilcock with help from a positively glittering selection of her friends and colleagues. There’s also much here about the under-appreciated and often mysterious art of film editing itself, and the inimitable style that she’s developed over some 50 years or so.
Opening with clips of Philip Noyce, Cate Blanchett and director Bruce Beresford, we then see Bilcock in her Brunswick offices editing The Dressmaker. Her sense of humour is immediately on display as she laughs at the sight of a grungy Judy Davis in the bath. Becoming a student at Swinburne University at the age of 15, Bilcock fell into film production pretty much by chance and on a whim. She was amongst the first students there to do the filmmaking degree, even though she admits there was not much studying going on.
When she mentions Richard Lowenstein this leads to discussion of her first proper feature as editor, his Strikebound, and his collaboration with the late lamented Michael Hutchence, Dogs In Space. She also notes that it’s wonderfully challenging to work with first-time directors and that’s why she agreed to join Baz Luhrmann on Strictly Ballroom. When she explains how she went through the mess of rushes and added sound effects to create that film’s final dance sequence, it’s as enlightening a depiction of the classic editing process as you’ll see in any doco.
The luminaries keep on coming: Muriel’s Wedding co-star Rachel Griffiths dishes out praise and Bilcock describes how she recut the film a few times in order to make Toni Colette’s Muriel look less horrible; Rob Sitch talks about The Dish and how Bilcock knows the critical need for comic timing; Head On director Ana Kokkinos thanks Bilcock for her work on such a difficult and low-budget movie. This is mostly about Jill Bilcock the professional, the editor, the artist, and the genuinely amazing work she’s done over the years, much of which so many cinemagoers might never truly understand or even properly notice.