Midnight Oil Documentary 'The Hardest Line' Set To Premiere At Sydney Film Festival

24 April 2024 | 9:22 am | Mary Varvaris

"After following them for seven years, we thank ‘The Oils’, and we feel we have an important film to share."

Midnight Oil

Midnight Oil (Credit: Andrzej Liguz)

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Australian rock music icons Midnight Oil have received the feature film documentary treatment for the first time, with The Hardest Line set to have its world premiere at this year’s Sydney Film Festival.

While a Midnight Oil documentary already exists (Midnight Oil: 1984), that film notably tracks the band throughout one seminal year of their career, whereas The Hardest Line is a career retrospective—the first Midnight Oil full story captured on film.

Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line will premiere at the Sydney Film Festival’s Opening Night Gala on Wednesday, 5 June, at the State Theatre. A post-screening party will go ahead at Sydney Town Hall.

The Hardest Line will track The Oils’ impressive, contrarian, passionate 45-year career by featuring never-before-heard interviews with each band member, archive studio and concert footage. The film will also feature some of their proudest moments, including their unforgettable “Sorry” laden performance at the 2000 Sydney Olympics, touring with the Warumpi Band, and their famous Exxon protest concert in New York City.

Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line was developed in partnership with Blink TV and Beyond Entertainment, funded by Screen Australia and the ABC in association with Screen NSW, and financed with support from Sony Music Entertainment and Sony Music Publishing.

The documentary was written, directed, and executive produced by Paul Clarke, along with producer Carolina Sorensen and executive producers Mikael Borglund and Martin Fabinyi.

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The 71st Sydney Film Festival program will be announced on Wednesday, 8 May.

Midnight Oil drummer Rob Hirst said about the film, “With strong management, a tough crew and a sabre-tooth lawyer, bands can often dwell in a kind of mobile Faraday cage - the lightning striking all around, while the musicians remain high and dry in a studio, on a stage or wedged inside a Tarago.

“Thus it was for Midnight Oil: rarely were we able to focus on the horizon and see the ‘Big Picture’, if there was such a thing. So, a film such as The Hardest Line is as much a revelation as a chronicle. Perhaps at last we can frame the last 50 years, make some collective sense of it, wrap it in a box marked ‘the Luckiest Band Ever.’”

Paul Clarke commented, “There is no other rock band in the world like Midnight Oil.” Clarke added, “For half a century, they were fearless, contrary, and totally original. When Australia was creaking under the weight of its own myths, they told us the truth.”

Clarke complimented the band’s songs for pinpointing “the fault lines in our culture” as they raged against “the strange and dangerous times we’ve lived through” but still offered hope. 

“After following them for seven years, we thank ‘The Oils’, and we feel we have an important film to share. We are all excited to unleash Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line as the Opening Night of the Sydney Film Festival.”

Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley said, “We are thrilled to present Midnight Oil: The Hardest Line as the opening film for this year's Sydney Film Festival.

“This documentary not only chronicles the formidable journey of one of Australia's most influential bands but also captures the spirit of an era that reshaped our cultural and political landscapes. It's a fitting tribute to their legacy and a profound reflection on their impact that continues to inspire audiences around the world.”