Perhaps the best thing about Ken Hannam’s 1975 film about sheepshearing in central Australia in 1956 is that he doesn’t try to impose too much structure on the action. He appealingly captures the landscape, the repetitive actions of shearing, the shearers’ drinking, and the sometimes slow, sometimes competitive aspects of their lives. There are a few fights, some personality conflicts, a labor struggle, and an unfortunate bit of silliness in which two men’s asses wiggle in time to music, but the film, rather than seeking high drama, has an unforced gentleness that celebrates ordinary labor. The camera takes in the vastness of the arid ranch lands with true affection, and the film’s humor, the director says correctly, “is genuinely funny because it comes from love and understanding rather than just the mouth.” If nothing else, the film portrays an aspect of Australian life that most are unlikely to be familiar with. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Friday, May 24, 6:00, 443-3737.

–Fred Camper