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Australia, 1998 (MIFF 1998, Australian Showcase)

Director: Neil Foley

Dan Vardy-Cobb lives at home with his parents, but he has a dream. Dan wants to abandon the restrictions of his suburban world and let his abundant musical creativity run free in the high risk, high energy world of his hero, Tina Arena. When Dan packs up to relocate to the big smoke, he has no idea of the trials and tribulations facing a solo performer in the dog-eat-dog world of Melbourne shopping centre entertainment.

Neil Foley's seamless mockumentary exhibits a similar sense of humour to MIFF 1997 punkumentary hit, Hard Core Logo. The director details the life and obsessions of his subject with zeal and incredible wit, never really making it plain whether the whole exercise is fiction. The attention to detail in preparing the music - almost an album's worth of Vardy-Cobb genius - and the utterly convincing performances by the entire cast make this a gleeful exercise in black comedy.

Michael Dalley is superb as the deluded lead, so wound up in his career that he fails to realise that he is being manipulated by cunning management sharks and playing for audiences that consist of daytime shoppers and pokie players. Media hype, mass entertainment and fame come under Foley's rueful gaze, following the course of Dan Vardy-Cobb's graduation from amateur to 'pro' via a gruelling studio session, frayed nerves and flaring tempers. Bathos by the bucketload and laughs galore.

Please note Bigger Than Tina is a work in progress.

Neil Foley received a BA in Media Studies at RMIT, during which time he wrote and directed A Weird Onion Flavour, Hellbent and the award-winning From Sunshine to Hell. Since graduating Foley has worked both in front of and behind the camera, and has written various screenplays. Bigger Than Tina is his debut feature film.

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