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Staff Picks: October 2020

Staff Picks

Each Library staff member, plus one special guest from the AFTRS staff has chosen five recommendations, with a note explaining each pick.

Due to current COVID-19 restrictions, most of the picks can be accessed both online from your living room or via the Library (for AFTRS staff ane student only).

We have also mixed it up and have picks from all over the internet, including podcasts, games, websites, as well as traditional films and television series.


Special Guest - Fyona Smith - Head of Radio

Beyond Powerful Radio by Valerie Gellar

Valerie Gellar’s ‘Beyond Powerful Radio’. Valerie was a guest at our online Industry Certificate Radio Content Leadership and Management  Conference two weeks ago zooming in from a very smoky LA.

Valerie is an absolute star communicator and can offer insights for anyone interested in making content.

Her three key principles are ‘Tell the truth, make it matter and NEVER BE BORING!’ Solid advice for life if you ask me.

Cross Bread Podcast

‘Cross Bread’ this is a fictional podcast in the Comedy Musical genre.

Produced by Graduate Karla Arnall (AFTRS Graduate Dip. Radio 2013)  Crossbread follows twin brother and sisters Josh and Joan Burns as they live the highs and lows of Christian hip-hop superstardom.  

Over six episodes, their former social media manager, Ken Lim, digs into the archives to trace their origins working in a donut shop and why it all fell apart so quickly.

Why Women Kill (2019) Creator: Marc Cherry

‘Why Women Kill’ is a fabulous dark comedy series on SBS staring Lucy Liu, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Kirby Howell-Baptiste.

Created by Marc Cherry it follows the lives of three women across different decades, the 60, 80s and 00s, connected by a house, infidelity and drama of course.

The scriptwriting, sets and costumes are delightful. I really enjoyed how the series explores women’s roles in society, what's changed and what hasn’t and the delivery of some of Lucy Liu's lines are hilarious.

Give it a go until at least episode three.

Blacademia Podcast

‘Blacademia’ a podcast of yarns with First Nation and Indigenous academics.

This podcast is a passion project of Gamilaroi women Amy Thuing and I have been really enjoying the first series.

Amy speaks with interesting people about their work, their journeys and their vision for higher education.

BMX Bandits (1983) Dir: Brian Trenchard-Smith

BMX Bandits an Australian classic.

Directed by Brian Trenchard-Smith and starring a freckly faced teen Nicole Kidman.

I have watched this with my niece a thousand times. The 80s were great for teen adventure films!

Raquel Caballero - User Experience Librarian

Tales of the Grim Sleeper (2014) Dir. Nick Broomfield

You will be equally sad, scared and outraged watching this. The story of Lonnie Franklin, the serial killer who terrorized South Central LA from the late 80s to the early 2000s, as told to director Nick Broomfield by the people that lived through it all – neighbours, people who knew Franklin and the survivors of his bloody rampage. Franklin’s victims were mostly African American women from low socio-economic backgrounds and broken families, prostitutes and drug addicts – casualties of the crack epidemic that ravaged black and brown communities during the 90s. Surprise surprise, the LAPD cared so little for these women that they didn’t even do the bare minimum in investigating their disappearances, leaving the killer to continue his murder spree. It is the perfect example of how little Black Lives Matter to those whose jobs it is to “serve and protect.”

Available via Amazon Prime.

Criminal podcast

I’m sure True Crime afficionados are already hip to this podcast but I gotta say, it’s still the best of the best. I’ve listened to every single episode and often re-visit some old faves, like the one about the crime scene cleaner and the one about this women who found out some creep was secretly living in her attic. Aiiieee! It still haunts me. The most recent ep is about Errol Morris. I almost died when I got the alert!

Available wherever you get your podcasts.

Séance on a Wet Afternoon (1964) Dir. Bryan Forbes

Kim Stanley was often referred to as the female Brando, but hell! Maybe he was the male Kim Stanley! Watch this film, you’ll know what I mean. You know when you watch a movie and they’re so good you forget it’? You end up just believing they are that person and will forever more be that person. Some call it pigeon-holing but I see it as reaching the peak. After all, it’s a performance that will go down in film history! Like Louise Fletcher is Nurse Ratched and Liz Taylor is Martha… Stanley is Myra Savage. One of the all-time greatest film villainesses (if that’s even a word).

House of Psychotic Women: An Autobiographical Topography of Female Neurosis in Horror and Exploitation Films by Kier-La Janisse.

An autobiographical exploration of anything is 100% my bag, but a whole book in which the author reflects on her personal history while also examining female madness in film is NEXT LEVEL. Does she want to kill me or what!?

Body Work (1988) Dir. David Caesar

I found this one day when I was putting DVDs away in the library – which really is the best way to discover new movies! The title on the spine caught my eye and I was like “hmm… what’s this about?” So I read the back cover: “Morticians, embalmers and grave-diggers talk intimately about each stage of the journey from death to dirt.” And was like “SOLD!” Of course it was great… set in Australia in the late 80s and directed by an AFTRS alumni no less!

Frazer Bull-Clark - Collection Development Librarian

Carnival of Souls (dir: Herk Harvey, 1962)

A fascinating low-budget horror film. Makes the most of its locations, lighting and sound design to create a dreamlike, unsettling atmosphere. Largely ignored upon its initial release, it has since developed a large cult following and has been an inspiration to all kinds of filmmakers, including David Lynch, George A. Romero and Lucrecia Martel.

Christine (dir: John Carpenter, 1983)

John Carpenter's adaptation of Stephen King's horror novel about a 1958 Plymouth Fury that has a mind of its own is a good example of a director working within the studio system while still holding onto what makes their work special. It's full of Carpenter's visual ingenuity, dark humour and great music. Harry Dean Stanton also plays a supporting role which is a big tick for any movie.

Monster (dir: Jennifer Kent, 2005)

Jennifer Kent made this as a kind of proof of concept for The Babadook and I think I might actually prefer it! A really effective, suspenseful, creepy short film.

Burning (dir: Lee Chang-Dong, 2018)

While not strictly a horror movie, I found this really dread-inducing and the ending still low-key haunts me. A slow burn mystery that explores the darker sides of millennial malaise and obsession, this was one of the best films I saw last year.

Spooked (podcast)

I started listening to this last week and got hooked. I love a good ghost story and this takes people's real-life tales of supernatural encounters and presents them in such a gripping way. Really well produced and put together. Legitimately spooky!

Candis Diaz - Curriculum Liaison Librarian (Wed - Fri)

Hannibal (2013 - 2015) dir: Bryan Fuller

By far one of the best food porn series out there!

Dr. Hannibal Lecter works with an unsuspecting FBI criminal profiler Will Graham, to solve a series of murder cases.

All the while hosting dinners for the FBI boss, Jack Crawford, who clearly has not gotten Fed up with Hannibal’s company.

You will chew right through this series!

Available from the Library on DVD.

Trolling Saramun (2011)

He fell not only to the Dark Lord but to his death!

But this time cheerfully.

Play this on repeat and you will not be disappointed.

Lilja 4-ever = [Lilya 4-ever] (2002) dir: Moodysson, Lukas

This movie is an emotional rollercoaster.

Lilya, a sixteen-year-old Russian girl is abandoned by her mother and forced to find a way to survive.

Set in the present day against a grim backdrop of the former Soviet Union, Lilya tries to escape her fate with the suspicious but charming Andrei, who offers to take her Sweden.

Will she live happily ever after? Probably not, this is your typical Foreign film inviting you to witness the darker realities of life.

Available from the Library on DVD.

The Ruins (2008) dir: Smith, Carter

Adventure through an ancient Mayan temple with four friends.

This gore flick will have you wishing that Triffids were your only problem! Instead prepare to battle with what is essentially Killer Weed!

Bunhong shin = The red shoes (2005) Kim, Yong-Gyun.

A young single mother happens across a pair of Blood Red Shoes she cannot resist!

This Korean Horror gives a whole new take on what it means to walk in somebody else’s shoes!

Jessica Anscombe - Curriculum Liaison Library (Mon & Thur)

Paranormal Activity (2007) Dir: Oren Peli

I LOVE scary movies.

And I remember being SO jumpy watching this and absolutely loving everything about it.

The young couple, the way it was shot, the use of the “found footage” technique.

The film follows Katie Featherstone and Micah Sloat, who are being haunted by a presence in their house.

They set up a camera to catch the “thing” in action during the night.  It was all so creepy and fun.

Directed in 2007 by Oren Peli.

Paranormal Activity 2 (2010) Dir: Tod Williams

PA2 is a prequel to the first paranormal and begins the story a few months prior, at Katie’s sisters house, Kristi.

This one is just as creep and gives a bit of a glimpse into a spooky backstory of the Featherstone family.

Directed in 2010 by Tod Williams.

Available from the Library on DVD

Paranormal Activity 3 (2011) Dir: Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman.

PA3 takes us back to when Kristi and Katie are children.

It follows the same format as the first two, after weird thing start happening the girls’ stepdad sets up cameras around the home.

The idea might be getting a bit old by this point but there are some particularly good scenes created by a camera fixed to an oscillating fan in the kitchen.

A lot more about the origins of the haunting presence is revealed.

Directed in 2011 by Henry Joost and Ariel Schulman

Available from the LIbrary on DVD.

Paranormal Activity 4 (2012) Dir: Henry Joost

Arguably they could have called it a day after the third one… but hey, when you’re onto a good thing… So, PA4 is back in present day and is set after the events of PA2.

A new family is introduced and after babysitting the little boy from next door they are dragged into the saga of Kate and Kristi.

Directed in 2012 by Ariel Schulman and Henry Joost.  (If you get this far and you still want more then you’re in luck.

The fifth and sixth instalments of the saga Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones and Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension have been released with a seventh one on the way I believe…)

Available from the Library on DVD.

Hayley Brown - Library Supervisor

Final Destination (2000) Dir: James Wong

Despite my dislike of horror films the premise of Final Destination always intrigued me.

Do we have a pre-determined destiny or can we make our choices?

The women of Hammer horror : a biographical dictionary and filmography (2013)

What's not to love about the woman of the Hammer horror films?

This book lets you learn a little more about each of the actresses of this iconic Horror production company.

iZombie (2015) Creator: Rob Thomas

Ever wondered what you would do if you woke up as a zombie?

Look no further for the answer...

Jekyll (2009) Dir: Douglas Mackinnon & Matt Lipsey

A modern twist on a classic tale.

Definitely worth a watch!

Laura Daaboul - Resource Access Librarian

I Saw the Devil (Dir: Kim Jee-Woon, 2010)

A man hunts down a killer in a revenge game of cat and mouse!

A Tale of Two Sisters (Dir: Jee-woon Kim, 2003)

Weird things are happening and two sisters start believing their new step mum is evil!

Oldboy (Dir: Chan-wook Park, 2003)

After being held captive for 15 years, a man tries to find out who was behind it and why.


The Mimic (Dir: Jung Huh, 2017)

A child goes missing and many years later the mother finds a lost child in the forest who sounds eerily like her missing child.


The Host (Dir: Bong Joon Ho, 2006)

A massive creature springs out of the water to terrorise everyone!

Also available via the Library on DVD