Brutal, uncompromising and stunning WAKE IN FRIGHT tells is the story of a young teacher, John Grant, who arrives in a rough outback mining town planning to stay overnight before catching the plane to Sydney. But, on this one hot night in Bundanyabba, Grant decides to go into a smoky, crowded pub...

However, one night stretches to five, in which he discovers gambling, ruins himself financially and plunges headlong toward his own destruction.

When the alcohol-induced mist lifts, the educated John Grant is no more. Instead there is a self-loathing man in a desolate wasteland, dirty, red-eyed, sitting against a tree and looking at a rifle with one bullet left...

"The best and most terrifying film about Australia in existence" - Nick Cave

There is no Australian film quite like WAKE IN FRIGHT. Nominated for the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival in 1971 and still as raw and fresh today as it was then, rediscover this lost cinematic masterpiece as it screens for the first time in nearly 40 years.

Sign up to the madman cinema mailing list to receive updates

Press Enquiries

For any press related enquires please contact
Madman Cinema


The Monthly takes a look at WAKE IN FIGHT.
Read the article Kate Jennings.


An exclusive 'in discussion' event with director Ted Kotcheff & editor Anthony Buckley of the 1971 cult film WAKE IN FRIGHT in fully restored 35mm print. Moderated by director Mark Hartley (NOT QUITE HOLLYWOOD: THE WILD, UNTOLD STORY OF OZPLOITATION). In association with the Sydney Film Festival.

WAKE IN FRIGHT is screening at Cannes 2009 after director Ted Kotcheff was nominated for a Golden Palm at the 1971 festival. Kotcheff went on to direct Fun with Dick and Jane (1977), Rambo First Blood (1982), and Weekend at Bernie's (1988).

WAKE IN FRIGHT will commence a theatrical season at Cinema Nova on June 25. Tickets $15.50/$11 Concession. Book your tickets now


Director Ted Kotcheff confirmed to attend the Premiere of the remastered print of WAKE IN FRIGHT at the Festival de Cannes on 15th of May. WAKE IN FRIGHT is screening as part of the Cannes Classics section of the 2009 Festival de Cannes, 28 years after it was in competition in 1971.

From June 25:

Hayden Theatres
380 Military Rd, Cremorne
(02) 9908 4344

Chauvel Cinema
Paddington Town Hall
Cnr Oxford St & Oatley Rd, Paddington
02 9361 5398

Palace Verona
17 Oxford Street, Paddington
(02) 9360 6099

Cinema Nova
380 Lygon St, Carlton
(03) 9347 5331

Palace George
135 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda, VIC
(03) 9534 6922

From 23rd July

Palace Centro
39 James Street, Fortitude Valley, QLD 4006
(07) 3852 4488

Palace Nova Eastend
274 Rundle Street, Adelaide, SA 5171
(08) 8232 3434

Avoca Beach (1 week only)
69 Avoca Beach, Avoca Beach NSW 2251
(02) 4382 1677

From 06th August

The Edge - Katoomba Cinema (1 week only)
225 Great Western Highway, Katoomba, 2780, NSW
Phone: (02) 4782 8900

From 13th August

State Theatre - Hobart
375 Elizabeth Street, North Hobart, Tasmania, Australia 7000
Ph 03 6234 6318

From 20th August

Empire Bowral (1 week only)
327 Bong Bong Street, Bowral NSW 2576
Ph. 4861 4676 (24 hour cinema infoline)

From 3rd September

First Avenue Cinema Sawtell (1 week only)
Sawtell Cinema, First Avenue, Sawtell NSW 2454
Phone: 02 66533119

From 10th September

Narooma City Cinemas (1 week only)
94 Campbell St, Narooma 2546 NSW
ph: (02) 4476 2352

Deckchair Cinema
End of Jervois Road, off Kitchener Drive, Wharf Precinct, Darwin 0801
Northern Territory
Ph: (08) 8941 4377


1961 - The novel Wake in Fright by Australian novelist Kenneth Cook is published. Wake in Fright drew on Cook's time as a journalist in Broken Hill.

1963 - Film rights to Wake in Fright purchased by actor Dirk Bogarde for a screen adaptation to be directed by Joseph Losey.

1970 - Wake in Fright is shot in Broken Hill and Sydney at Ajax Studios, Bondi. The film is produced by George Willoughby, Bill Harmon and Howard G. Barnes, directed by Ted Kotcheff and starring British actors Donald Pleasence, Gary Bond and Sylvia Kay, and Australian star Chips Rafferty (in his last feature film). Other cast members include a young Jack Thompson in his first feature film role, Al Thomas, Peter Whittle and John Meillon.

Autumn 1971 - Wake in Fright is released in Australia, commencing with a season in Sydney. The film is praised by critics and shocks Australian audiences.

May 1971 - Wake in Fright represented Australia at the Cannes Film Festival. Nicholas Roeg's Walkabout was also at Cannes that year. Chips Rafferty dies 27 May 1971.

July 1971 - United Artists acquire the world distribution rights to the Wake in Fright and re-title Outback for international release. The Outback version of the film was different in three parts; the opening and end titles, plus a scene in which Gary Bond appears in underpants as opposed to a naked scene in the Australian version. Outback opens in Paris on 22 July and ran for a successful five month season.

1971 - Outback released in London on Oct 29th.

1972 - Outback released in New York on Feb 21st.

1972 - 1996 - During this time the original negatives of Wake in Fright are lost. The film occasionally screens late at night on television, presented by Bill Collins during the early-mid 1980s. A VHS of Outback is also released in the US during the 1980s. Some 16mm and 35mm prints of the film exist but were in extremely poor condition for screening.

1996 - Filmmaker Anthony Buckley, the original editor of Wake in Fright, starts searching for the original materials as it is found they are missing. This was done on a promise Buckley made to the NLT principal Bobby Limb in the years before his death in 1999.

2000 - A damaged 35mm print of Outback is found in Dublin

2002 - After an extensive search the original film materials are finally located in the US in a Pittsburgh vault marked for destruction and imminent disposal.

March 2003 - Agreement struck with CBS (who had inherited the film through a merger with Westinghouse) to export materials to Australia to be held at the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA).

Early 2006 - The NFSA, together with Atlab/Deluxe, and with Anthony Buckley's creative oversight, commence preservation work using traditional photochemical techniques for the image. Sound elements were pieced together by NFSA audio technicians with the assistance of Soundfirm to remix the soundtrack.

March 2006 - It becomes apparent that traditional photochemical preservation will not be sufficient to preserve the film and produce prints that match how the film was released originally. Significant colour fade and emulsion scratching were too severe to rejuvenate via photochemical means. Testing using digital restoration techniques were employed to see what improvements could be made using these methods over photochemical.

January 2007 - Digital restoration testing proved very positive and a partnership was agreed to between the NFSA and Atlab/Deluxe to do a full digital restoration.

Late January 2009 - Digital restoration project completed.

15 May 2009 - The fully restored Wake in Fright enjoys its World Premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, in the retrospective program, Cannes Classics.

13 June 2009 - The fully restored Wake in Fright has its Australian Premiere at the Sydney Film Festival.

25 June 2009 - The fully restored Wake in Fright begins a limited theatrical run around Australia.

Madman Entertainment