The Weekend Australian - Review - - Front Page -

BAZ Luhrmann likes to call his first movie, Strictly Ball­room, ‘‘ the lit­tle film that could’’. But it could eas­ily have been ‘‘ the lit­tle film that wasn’t’’. As a novice di­rec­tor, Luhrmann strug­gled to win the con­fi­dence of fund­ing bod­ies and in­vestors so he could make his stylised ro­man­tic com­edy about a young ball­room dancer who ou­trages the old guard by cre­at­ing his own funky, heelclick­ing, butt-wig­gling moves.

Then, shortly be­fore the film’s re­lease in 1992, came a set­back that shat­tered his con­fi­dence: Strictly Ball­room was pulled from the only main­stream cin­ema screen its pro- duc­ers had se­cured (along­side the usual art­house venues). A dis­tri­bu­tion ex­ec­u­tive dis­liked the film so much, he ditched it.

Luhrmann, still in his 20s, was crushed. It seemed the des­tiny of his de­but movie was be­ing sealed even be­fore the pub­lic had had a chance to see it. ‘‘ When they dumped us, hon­estly, I’ve only had a few of those mo­ments in my life where I went, ‘ It’s over’,’’ he says can­didly.

Ar­guably Aus­tralia’s great­est liv­ing show­man, Luhrmann, now 51, is talk­ing to Re­view in an in­ner-Syd­ney re­hearsal stu­dio so shabby (chipped floors, bare con­crete walls, scuffed chairs) it could fea­ture in a doc­u­men­tary about

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