BAZ LUHRMANN RE-CREATES STRICTLY BALLROOM
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