Swinging Safari captures the free spirit of 1970s Australian suburbia

Director Stephan Elliott's new film Swinging Safari, about three couples in 1975 and their families. Photo: Andrew Ritchie
Director Stephan Elliott's new film Swinging Safari, about three couples in 1975 and their families. Photo: Andrew Ritchie

SWINGING Safari writer/director Stephan Elliott grabbed the bull by the horns when tackling the now perceived politically incorrect 1970s.

The film is about a couple of teenagers coming of age in suburban Australia during morally loose times when parents got drunk and high at dinner parties and dabbled in partner swapping while their children played unsupervised in the next room.

Notable for its impeccable 1970s production design and costumes, it also marks singing superstar Kylie Minogue’s return to the big screen as an uptight, alcoholic mum and Offspring’s Asher Keddie as a fellow swinger.

Elliott, who helmed the hit The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, said there were attempts to soften the tone, but he stood his ground.

“The film is about a time before political correctness was invented; this is the last era where there really weren’t any rules,” he said.

“If I attempted to make Priscilla now, they wouldn’t let me; I had an indigenous person dressed up in drag.

“Even at the time that was causing problems and Alan Dargin who played the part thought it was hilarious, but now there’d be a body that would stop you.

“When I got to this I thought ’we’re going to get into a bit of trouble’ but it’s set in the past.”

Elliott said he faced some personal demons bringing the story to the big screen.

“There’s stuff in there that wasn’t pleasant, it wasn’t,” he said.

“It’s a fun film but there’s really confronting stuff in it, and on the day I thought ’oh how am I going to handle this?’ because some of it was straight out of the memory bank, but nah, we had to stick to our guns.”

Keddie said it was Elliott’s non-apologetic approach to the subject matter and the chance to “play” in costumes that drew her to the project.

“I loved dress-ups; the dress-up box was an essential part of my childhood,” she said.

“I had a lot of guidance in my life from my mum, but I also had the freedom to wear her beautiful highly detailed wedding gown with an enormous train, down to Safeway, walk down the street 2km with her. She let me do that and didn’t care what anybody in the supermarket would say or think.”

The pair shared their views with Community News on sexual assault allegations currently rocking Hollywood and the subsequent #metoo and #timesup movement online.

Ashley Judd, who starred in Elliott’s Eye of the Beholder around the time she claims producer Harvey Weinstein assaulted her, is at the forefront of the movement and has been one of the most outspoken actresses.

“And Rose McGowan I know very well too; it’s their fight and they’ve done it and what can I do?” he said.

“I’ve known stuff from the years and this conversation needs to – it’s taken place, but it’s happened so fast.

“That’s what’s shocking.”

Keddie concurred.

“It’s such a big conversation now, it’s massive and it’s one that’s been waiting to happen and I’m really pleased about that,” she said.

“I think it’s about how we handle it now moving forward from this point that is really important for both women and men, for all of us to consider.

“Who knows where it is going to go but…”

Elliott chimes in: “Bring it on.”

Swinging Safari is in cinemas now.