Shame (1988 film)

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Directed by Steve Jodrell
Produced by Damien Parer
Paul D. Barron
Written by Beverly Blankenship
Michael Brindley
Starring Deborra-Lee Furness
Simone Buchanan
Tony Barry
Music by Mario Millo
Edited by Kerry Regan
Distributed by Barron Films
Umbrella Entertainment
Release dates
Running time
94 min.
Country Australia
Language English
Budget A$1,650,000[1][2]

Shame is a 1988 Australian Film directed by Steve Jodrell and starring Deborra-Lee Furness as 'Asta', for which she won both the 1988 FCCA 'Best Actor' and Golden Space Needle 'Best Actress' awards; as well as the FCCA awarding 'Best Screenplay' to both Beverley Blankenship and Michael Brindley.


Tragic happenings result from conflict arising from the active feminism of Asta Cadell, a robust professional woman, after her motorbike breaks down in the fictitious township of Ginborak during a lone tour of outback Western Australia.

She gives support to a young girl, Lizzie, who has been gang raped by local youths; a crime compounded by the neurotically tolerant attitude adopted by the town's citizens, including the police sergeant and even her father, who blame the girl for the boys' behaviour

Asta is treated disrespectfully by men in the local pub. Directed to the town's mechanic, Tim Curtis, Asta stays with his family as a guest. Members of the family are visibly troubled and suffering from some sort of depressive condition.

One night when Lizzie cannot bear her parents' fighting anymore, she runs outside crying, where Asta reaches out to her, forming a protective relationship.

Asta's assertive personality brings her into conflict with the bullying female owner of a meat-processing factory and with the ruthless group of young men who have pack-raped several girls in the town. The youths turn their unpleasant attentions to her, at which she vigorously defends herself, inflicting injuries on some of the boys. She complains to the police sergeant, who explains that the boys are simply having fun, and threatens Asta with an assault charge, at which she reveals she is a barrister and not an easy target for his corrupt behaviour. She begins to speak more openly and energetically, in public and private, about the scandalous affairs which she has learned are occurring in this isolated town,

She becomes a role-model and source of strength to the violated and injusticed Lizzie, whose own father even struggles to deny the truth of what has happened under his very nose. Championed on by Asta, Little by little, Lizzie draws upon enough courage to begin both straying further from the safety of her own house, and confronting her own father about his denial.

But even her own house and family become targets for the blind rage which erupts when the young violators and their complacent parents learn that Asta and Lizzie mean business—they intend pressing charges to get the boys imprisoned.



Beverley Blankenship saw Mad Max and became excited about the idea of writing a film about a woman on a motorcycle. She discussed it with Michael Brindley and decided to make a modern-day Western. Blakenship wrote an eleven-page treatment which got finance from the Women's Film Fund for a first draft. The offered the script to Joan Long who was busy on other projects but then Paul Barron read a draft and became enthusiastic. Steve Jodrell became attached as director.[2] Jodrell:

No-one really wanted to touch it because they couldn't work out what it was about. It was not quite entertaining; it was a little bit too art-house; it was a message film, and yet Michael and Beverly Blenkinship had always designed the film as a kind of B grade drive-in movie. They did not want it to end up in an art-house circuit. They wanted it to be an action flick that had some things to say in it, so that they get to the kind of demographic that they were appealing to, which was young teenagers and people in their twenties - and actually hoping the girls would drag the men along and, therefore, get across what they wanted to say.[3]

Jodrell says that three weeks proper to shooting the financiers had commissioned a new draft to be written, in which Asta was far more violent and vigilante like, however it was not used.[3]

The movie was shot over six weeks on location at Toodyay in Western Australia on Super 16mm.[2]


Jodrell says the financiers were not supportive of the final film but Paul Barron managed to find investors to buy out their interests enabling the movie to be theatrically released.[3]

There was an American remake for TV in 1992 starring Amanda Donohoe.

Home media[edit]

Shame was released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment in May 2011. The DVD is compatible with all region codes and includes special features such as the original theatrical trailer, interviews with Steve Jodrell, Simone Buchanan and Michael Brindley, and an interview with Deborra-Lee Furness.[4]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Australian Productions Top $175 million", Cinema Papers, March 1986 p64
  2. ^ a b c David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p218-220
  3. ^ a b c "Interview with Steve Jodrell", Signet, 30 March 1998 accessed 19 November 2012
  4. ^ "Umbrella Entertainment". Retrieved 4 May 2013. 

External links[edit]