Annie's Coming Out

Annie's Coming Out (also known as A Test of Love) is a 1984 Australian drama film directed by Gil Brealey. It is based on the non-fiction book Annie's Coming Out by disability activist Rosemary Crossley, allegedly with assistance from Anne McDonald. The book tells the story of McDonald's early life in a government institution for people with severe disabilities and her subsequent release, as well as her therapist's attempts to communicate with her with the pseudoscientific method of facilitated communication.

For another movie, under similar title, see: The Test of Love

Annie's Coming Out
Directed byGil Brealey
Produced byDon Murray
Written byChris Borthwick
Rosemary Crossley
Anne McDonald
John Patterson
Music bySimon Walker
CinematographyMick von Bornemann
Edited byLindsay Frazer
Distributed byHoyts (Australia)
Umbrella Entertainment
Universal (US)
Release date
  • 27 September 1984 (1984-09-27) (Australia)
  • 23 November 1984 (1984-11-23) (UK)
  • 29 March 1985 (1985-03-29) (US)
Running time
96 minutes
Budgetunder AU$1 million[1]


Annie O'Farrell (based on Anne McDonald) is a 13-year-old girl with athetoid cerebral palsy who is unable to communicate and has been living in a government institution from an early age.[2][3] Jessica Hathaway (based on Rosemary Crossley) is a therapist who learns to communicate with Annie using an alphabet board and comes to believe that although physically disabled, Annie is not intellectually impaired.[4] When Annie turns 18, Jessica begins a legal fight to get her released.[5][6]



Film rights to the book were bought by Film Australia and Gil Brealey was assigned to direct. It was originally intended that Ann McDonald play herself but she had grown too big by the time she left hospital so 9 year old Tina Arhondis was cast instead. Shooting started in September 1983 and went for four weeks, mostly at the Convent of the Good Shepherd in Melbourne.[1]


Annie's Coming Out won three 1984 Australian Film Institute Awards for Best Film, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Lead Actress (Angela Punch McGregor).[7] It was nominated for four other AFI awards.[8] The film won the Prize of the Ecumenical Jury at the 1984 Montréal World Film Festival.[7]

The film was not a large commercial success but it screened in the US as A Test of Love.[1]

Home media

Annie's Coming Out was released on DVD by Umbrella Entertainment in October 2010. The DVD is compatible with all region codes and includes special features such as press clippings, photos, and audio commentary with Gil Brealey, Rosemary Crossley, Chris Borthwick and Anne McDonald.[9]

The film score recording by Simon Walker, produced by Philip Powers, was released in 2002 by 1M1 Records

See also


  1. David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p57-58
  2. Dell'Oso, Anna-Maria (20 September 1984). "Emotional integrity wins out over technical restrictions". The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, New South Wales, Australia. p. 12. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  3. Maslin, Janet (29 March 1985). "'TEST OF LOVE,' FROM AUSTRALIA". The New York Times. New York, New York, US. p. C4. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  4. Benson, Sheila (19 April 1985). "MOVIE REVIEW : THE MIRACLE OF ANNIE". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California, US. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  5. Mannikka, Eleanor. "A Test of Love > Overview". Allmovie. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  6. Brussat, Frederic; Mary Ann Brussat. "Film Review - A Test of Love". Spirituality & Practice. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  7. "Annie's Coming Out - Awards". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved 17 January 2009.
  8. Lethlean, John (4 October 1984). "AFI awards: Channel 10's bivouac". The Age. Melbourne, Victoria, Australia. Retrieved 6 August 2019.
  9. "Umbrella Entertainment". Archived from the original on 25 January 2014. Retrieved 10 May 2013.
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