I saw more than 30 films at the Sundance Film Festival, and my favorite feature was Mad Bastards, a small independent gem from Australia. Director Brendan Fletcher had created several videos with the Pigram Brothers, well-known Australian folk musicians. They wanted to collaborate in the development of a feature film exploring a side of Australia largely unknown to most Australians, and completely alien to the rest of the world. They listened to stories from the strongly aboriginal region of Kimberley, Australia, where they'd been working, and a recurrent theme emerged: Many of the men had grown up without a father, and as they grew up they felt unhinged and uprooted and angry. They had become literally what they call locally "mad bastards."
The filmmakers decided to tell the story of a troubled man in search of the son he'd abandoned long ago. To achieve authenticity, they drew elements of the story directly from the lives of the key actors in the film, most of whom had never acted before. The result is fantastic it looks good, the acting feels utterly fresh and convincing, and the music is refreshing and upbeat. What's even better, you don't have to wait to see it, as it was picked up by IFC and is right now available on local cable on demand through its "Sundance Selects" program.