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Monday
Nov272017

MONSTER FEST FETES FIERCE FEMMES AT CLOSING NIGHT KUDOS

The closing night awards ceremony at Monster Fest 2017 became a celebration of girl power in genre cinema, with all four feature film prize winners centred by fearless lead actress performances. The 2017 festival jury, comprised of screening platform OzFlix boss Ron Brown, Events Cinemas programmer Jon Nilsen and Screen-Space’s own Simon Foster, noted the roster of quality films to feature strong female characters in this years line-up, which wrapped a sell-out season at Melbourne’s Lido Cinema last night.

The festival’s top honour, The Golden Monster, was awarded to Stefan Ruzowitzky’s Cold Hell (Die Hölle), a German/Austrian co-production starring Violetta Schurawlow (pictured, above) as a witness to a brutal murder who finds herself being stalked by the killer. The Monster Fest trophy continues the high-energy thriller’s award momentum; the director accepted the Best European Film silverware at Lisbon’s MOTELx Festival Internacional de Cinema de Terror, while Schurawlow collected the Best Actress honour at the prestigious Fantasia Film Festival.

The festival’s closing night selection, Coralie Fargeat’s directorial debut Revenge, a brutal, blood-splattered survival epic starring Matilda Anna Ingrid Lutz (pictured, right) as a vengeful rape victim and Kevin Janssens as her toxic male tormenter, collected the Best International Film prize. The judge’s decision came on the back of some spirited debate, with both Rainer Sanert’s monochromatic arthouse-horror oddity November, starring Rea Lest, and Adam MacDonald’s slow-burn black-magic thriller Pyewacket, with Nicole Munoz, in the mix until the final decision was handed down.

Best Australian Film went to the crowdpleasing horror-comedy Tarnation, featuring Daisy Masterman, a raucous riff on Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead pics from Monster Fest favourite Daniel Armstrong (MurderDrome, 2013; From Parts Unknown, 2015; Sheborg Massacre, 2016). Turkish director Can Evrenol, who burst onto the horror scene in 2015 with the cult shocker Baskin, took out the Best Director award for his follow-up film Housewife, an typically disturbing ‘end-of-days’ vision that melds Rosemary Baby-type paranoia with Lovecraftian imagery with a game lead turn by Clémentine Poidatz.

Beyond the allotted categories, the Monster Fest jury also feted Gary Doust’s Horror Movie: A Low Budget Nightmare with a Jury’s   Special Mention. The fly-on-a-wall account of the traumatic process director Craig Anderson went through to make his passion project, the low-budget splatterfest Red Christmas, was deemed to have captured the filmmaking spirit that drives so many of those who submit similar works to Monster Fest annually.

The extensive contribution of the short filmmaking community to the Monster Fest program was also acknowledged with plaudits going to Alberto Viavattene’s Birthday (Best Overall Short Film); Mia’kate Russell’s Liz Drives (Best Australian Short); Seamus Murphy’s Reunion (Best Victorian Short Film); and, Remi Weekes’ Tickle Monster (Best International Short Film).

 

Friday
Nov242017

GEORGIA ON EVERYONE'S MIND AFTER APSA TRIUMPH

Warwick Thornton’s brutal Aussie western Sweet Country kept up its award season momentum by taking out Best Film honours at tonight’s Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA), held at the Brisbane Convention and Exhibition Centre. But it was filmmaking minnow Georgia that won over the hearts and minds of the jurors and gathered attendees at the 11th annual celebration of filmmaking from region that this year comprised 42 nominated works from 25 countries.

Servicing a population of roughly 5 million occupying a mere 70,000 square kilometres, the Georgian film community stood proud, taking three of the event’s most prestigious prizes. The drama Dede (pictured, below), a tradition-defying love triangle set in the Caucasus Mountains from director Mariam Khachvani (pictured, above: centre), was chosen to represent the Asia Pacific film community before UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Committee as recipient of APSA Cultural Diversity Award; a special screening of the film will be held at UNESCO’s Paris headquarters on December 12. The young director, who shot her film in the UNESCO World Heritage province of Svaneti in her homeland, was clearly moved when she took to the stage; similar displays of genuine humility and unbridled glee were indicative of all the Georgian honorees.

The Best Actress trophy went to Nato Murvanidze (above, right) for her role in Scary Mother, the riveting first feature from 27 year-old auteur Ana Urushadze (above, left). The debutant director also received acknowledgement for her assured work with an APSA Jury Grand Prize, an honour that will sit alongside 2017 statuettes earned from Locarno, Mumbai and Sarajevo film festivals. A fourth in-development Georgian project, Vladimer Katcharav’s Nene, was selected to receive a US$25,000.00 grant as part of the 2017 Motion Picture Association (MPA) APSA Film Fund.

Read SCARY MOTHER: THE ANA URUSHADZE / NATO MURVANIDZE INTERVEW here. 

The mighty Russian film sector was the other award frontrunner, also nabbing three APSA trophies. These were Achievement in Directing, bestowed upon Andrey Zvyagintsev (an APSA favourite, with wins under his belt Leviathan and Elena) for his missing child drama, Loveless; the Cinematography honour, awarded to the duo Pyotr Duhovskoy and Timofey Lobov for Rustam Khamdamov’s monochromatic dreamscape The Bottomless Bag; and, a second Jury Grand Prize for actor Aleksandr Yatsenko’s performance in Boris Khlebnikov’s Arrhythmia.

Read our review of ARRHYTHMIA here.

Thornton’s Best Picture triumph establishes an APSA milestone, with the indigenous filmmaker the first director to have had two films take the top honour; his breakthrough hit Samson and Delilah won in 2009. The only other Antipodean work honoured was Annie Goldson’s New Zealand documentary Kim Dotcom: Caught in The Web, which earned a Special Mention in the Feature Documentary section; Feras Fayyad’s Last Men in Aleppo was deemed the front runner in that category.

India celebrated wins in two major categories, both for Amit Masurkar’s polling-booth black comedy Newton; leading man Rajkummar Rao won Best Actor, while Masurkar and co-writer Mayank Tewari took Best Screenplay honours. Other winners included Kamila Andini’s The Seen and Unseen (Indonesia) for Best Youth Feature; Anne Marie Fleming’s Window Horses: The Poetic Persian Epiphany of Rosie Ming (Iran, Canada) for Best Animated Feature. Iranian actor Navid Mohammadzadeh gave an entertaining acceptance speech in his native Fasi when called onstage to claim his Special Mention honour for his lead role in Vahid Jalilvand’s No Date, No Signature.

Read WINDOW HORSES: THE ANN MARIE FLEMING INTERVIEW here.

The two honorary awards were amongst the highlights of the slickly-staged show, hosted by Australian television identity Lee Lin Chin and actor David Wenham. The FIAPF Outstanding Achievement in the Asia Pacific honour was awarded to Filipino producer Bianca Balbuena (Beast, 2015; Singing in Graveyards, 2016), whose rousing speech was the best of the night (“May we never get tired of being storytellers because the world needs us now”). The APSA Young Cinema Award, a recognition of emerging Asia Pacific talent, went to Azerbaijani filmmaker Ilgar Najaf’s Pomegranate Orchard.

 

Monday
Nov062017

MARRIAGE DRAMA, SPACE RACE EPICS TAKE TOP HONOURS AT RUSSIAN FILM FEST

Boris Khlebnikov’s Arrhythmia was named The SCREEN-SPACE Best New Russian Film at the closing night of the 2017 Russian Resurrection Film Festival in Sydney last night. Also honoured with special jury mentions were Klim Shipenko’s Salyut 7 and Dimitry Kiselyov’s Spacewalkers (pictured, below), two audience favourites that revisited the glory days of the Soviet space program in grand filmmaking style.

Read our review of Arrhythmia here.

A contemporary take on the drifting commitment and strained emotions of a young Moscow couple, Arrhythmia (pictured, below) earned its leading man Aleksandr Yatsenko the Best Actor trophy at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival and recognition from events in Sochi, Sakhalin and Haifa ahead of its Australian festival run. Khlebnikov’s assured and moving film was the unanimous victor as judged by Limelight magazine’s Lynden Barber, Managing Editor of SBS Movies, Fiona Williams, and Screen-Space editor Simon Foster.   

High amongst the finalists vying for the top festival honour were two Holocaust-themed dramas, Andrei Konchalovsky’s Paradise and Pavel Chukhray’s Cold Tango; Karen Shakhnazarov’s highbrow literary adaptation Anna Karenina: Vronsky’s Story; and Valery Todorovsky’s The Bolshoi, the lavish dance drama that opened the 14th annual celebration of Russian cinema on October 26.

In choosing to break with tradition and give jury nods to the space epics, the judges cited a vast and ambitious scale rarely seen in international cinema, due largely to the costs of realising such immense visions. In praising Salyut 7 and Spacewalkers, the judges spoke of both films in the same breath as the American space race classics, The Right Stuff and Apollo 13, and deemed the quality of the work reflected the strong production and post-production infrastructure of the Russian industry.

The 14th annual Russian Resurrection Film Festival drew to a close after an eleven day run at the Event Cinema's George Street site, during which attendance levels were amongst the highest in the festival's history. The highly anticipated Closing Night film was a digitally restored print of Yakov Protazanov’s rarely-seen 1924 silent science-fiction classic Aelita, accompanied by a live score by the renowned Volotinsky Quartet.

Friday
Aug042017

THE ULTIMATE READY PLAYER ONE EASTER EGG COMPILATION

It became the sensation of the 2017 San Diego Comic-Con; the daring and dazzling mosaic of iconic 80s and 90s properties in Warner Bros 123-second trailer for Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One the stuff of comic geek fantasy and nostalgist dream. The Greatest Living Director’s adaptation of Ernest Cline’s VR tech-epic doesn’t drop until March 30 2018, but the challenge to spot all the ‘easter egg’ nuggets of pop culture gold became the convention’s favourite past time. So here they all are…

“I live here, in Columbus Ohio”
Wade Watts (Tye Sheridan) navigates ‘The Stacks’ (trailer homes piled on top of each other) on his way to his VR den, home to such pop culture touchstones as a Nintendo ‘Zapper’, iPod, Commodore 64 joystick and He-Man lunchbox, as well as iconic 80s ephemera from The Garbage Pail Kids, Gremlins, Watchmen, Q-Bert and Tim Burton’s Batman;

“It’s the only place I feel like I mean anything.”
When Watts (as his virtual avatar Parzival) enters the VR universe known as Oasis, characters adopted by the global online population are gathered. He is greeted by Harley Quinn and Deadshot (pictured, above); in the crowded room, Hagar the Horrible and Conan the Barbarian can be seen. To the strains of a reworked version of ‘Pure Imagination’ from Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory (a nod to the narrative similarities between Cline’s book and Raold Dahl’s family classic), Gandalf dances high above the din;

“A world where the limits of reality are your own imagination.”
The Iron Giant (pictured, above) from Brad Bird’s 1999 animated classic plays a major role in helping Parzival and his egg-hunter offsiders Daito and Shoto hunt for the virtual prize that will give them control of the Oasis. The brown structure to the right of frame is The Temple of Syrinx, a reference to the 1976 album 2112 by Canadian band, Rush, the epic track forming the basis for one player’s quest in the novel. The soft-metal group’s discography is a source of inspiration for OASIS creator, the late James Halliday (played by Mark Rylance);

In his guise as ‘Napoleon’, Parzival rides a mecha-scorpion (perhaps a reference to a similar creature in the vid-game, Ultrabots) while fighting a battalion of warrior ostriches, lifted from the 1982 Atari arcade classic, Joust (pictured, above);

Wade’s best friend Aech (Lena Waithe), reimagined in Spielberg’s film as a Rings-like Orc warrior, comes under fire from Duke Nuk’em as he lays waste to Mortal Kombat’s Kitana and Nightmare on Elm Street’s villain Freddy Krueger (whose demise frees up an inventory of weapons from the game Borderland, including Sledge’s Shotgun and Krieg’s Buzz Axe). Aech’s weapon of choice is the MA5 assault rifle from Halo;

“A modern day warrior / Mean, mean stride / Today’s Tom Sawyer / Mean, mean pride”
Rush’s ‘Tom Sawyer’ pulsates as we are introduced to a VR army of ‘Sixers’ (so named because their avatar numbers begin with 6, visible on the uniforms and car roofs). Gathered for a mammoth road race are the 1966 Batmobile, Mad Max’s modified Ford Falcon Interceptor, the Red F1 car from the Pole Position vidgame (the blue car is glimpsed later); right of frame, Lara Croft leans on the 1958 Plymouth Fury from Stephen King’s Christine, talking to Dizzy Wallin from Gears of War in front of the van from The A-Team (also in the mix is Ryu, the key protagonist from the Streetfighter franchise);

Legendary offroader Bigfoot, the first of the great monster cars since it debuted in 1979, lays to waste some sixer vehicles, including one with a QR code on its bonnet that, when scanned, leads to http://www.jointhequest.io, the Innovative Online Industries recruitment site;

“No, his mind is not for rent / To any God or government”
As the road carnage unfolds on what is revealed to be a Hot Wheels track writ large, Kaneda’s light-cycle from the anime classic Akira emerges, driven by Parzival’s online ally Art3mis (Olivia Cooke) and adorned with stickers for Hello Kitty, Atari, SEGA and Taito (original manufacturers of Space Invaders).

The ‘Parzival’ number plate confirms our hero is driving Doc Brown’s time machine from Back to The Future, which appears to have been modified with the in-car AI known as K.I.T.T, from Knight Rider. Inside the Delorean, the dashboard reads ‘Feb 11 1945’ – the day Wade/Parzival finds the copper key in the novel – as well as key dates from the B.T.T.F. trilogy;

The final and ultimate ‘easter egg’ is the Ready Player One logo itself. It is a maze, with the goal being an egg inside the ‘O’ of the word ‘One’. A masterful piece of marketing, the design reflects the essence of Cline’s plot and Spielberg’s adaptation.

Screen-Space acknowledges The Nerdist, Geekritique, VR Scout and Collider as sources in compiling this article.  

Sunday
Jun112017

PREVIEW: 20th REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

Flying the flag for two decades in the name of provocative, socially aware and artistically challenging films might test the mettle of your average film festival programming team. But not, it would seem, the Revelation crew. The 20th anniversary of Perth’s internationally recognised film event offers an expanded film line-up, bolstered academic strand and plenty of opportunity to party when it kicks off July 6.

Once again under the combined stewardship of festival director Richard Sowada and program director Jack Sargeant, 2017 Revelation Perth International Film Festival offers up an impressive list of statistics to woo local and, in increasing numbers, interstate and overseas patrons. 86 Australian films are amongst the 200 films scheduled to screen over the 14 day event, an exhaustive calendar that boasts 15 world premieres and 41 Australian premieres.

Opening Night honours have been bestowed upon Becoming Bond, Josh Greenbaum’s rousing celebration of the one-shot Bond, Australian George Lazenby. Starring Lazenby himself recounting his life and fleeting stardom and featuring actor Josh Lawson (pictured, right) as Lazenby in scenes recreating key moments in the Sydney car mechanic-turned-great non-actor's life, the film also stars ex-Bond Girl Jane Seymour and played to wildly enthusisatic crowds at SXSW, where it earned Audience Award honours. In a major coup for the festival, Lazenby will be guest of the fest, present a retrospective screening of his solo 007 effort On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and front a hot-ticket Q&A evening hosted by FilmInk senior contributor Travis Johnson.

An enticing array of feature film offerings run the gamut from starry vehicles from idiosyncratic auteurs (Ben Wheatley’s Free Fire, with Oscar winner Brie Larsen; David Lowery’s A Ghost Story, with Rooney Mara; Colm McCarthy’s The Girl With All The Gifts, with Gemma Arterton; Todd Solondz’s Wiener Dog, with Greta Gerwig); festival favourites with indie cred (Liam Gavin’s A Dark Song; Claude Barras’ My Life as a Zucchini; Laurent Micheli’s Even Lovers Get The Blues; Geremy Jasper’s Patti Cake$; Bruce McDonald’s Weirdos) and, as is the ‘RevFest’ way, the truly bizarre (Peter Vack’s Assholes; Johannes Nyholm’s The Giant; Albert Birney and Kentucker Audley’s Sylvio; Xander Robin’s Are We Not Cats).

The feature documentary strand runs to an incredible 31 films. As one would anticipate, there are a great many from Australia (Gillian Leahy’s Baxter and Me; Kriv Stenders’ The Go-Betweens: Right Here; Jennene Riggs’ Secrets At Sunrise) and the USA (Keith Maitland’s Tower; Jennifer M Kroot’s The Untold Tales of Armistead Maupin; William A Kirkley’s Orange Sunshine; Alexandre O. Phillippe’s 78/52); there are also two Australia/USA co-productions (Jai Love’s Dead Hands Dig Deep; Kate Hickey’s Roller Dreams).

Having solidified a global reputation, submission to Revelations were received from and slots allocated to factual films from The Netherlands (Susanne Helmer’s Melanie), Ireland (Colm Quinn’s Mattress Men; Brendan Byrne’s Bobby Sands 66 Days); Spain (David Fernandez’s The Key to Dali); Denmark (Max Kestner’s Amateurs in Space); and, Austria (Ulrich Seidl’s Safari; pictured, right). Co-productions include Matteo Borgardt’s You Never Had It: An Evening with Bukowski (USA/Italy/Mexico); Pierre Bismuth’s Where is Rocky II? (Germany/Belgium/Italy/France); Florian Habicht’s Spookers (Australia/New Zealand); and Ziga Virc’s Houston We Have a Problem (Slovenia/Croatia/Germany/The Czech Republic/Qatar).

Always the innovators, Revelation will launch Next Gen Webfest, a celebration of local web-content creators; utilise the interior of Perth’s historic St George’s Cathedral for the audiovisual spectacular, Suspended Voices; enter the burgeoning world of Virtual Reality with the presentation, Only at the Air Only at Each Other; present Night of The Living Dead Re-Composed, a re-imagining of Romero’s classic undead masterpiece to the music of local experimental music collective, Genrefonix; and, collaborate on Life in Pictures, a competitive film-making competition undertaken with the government sector and the arts community to present narratives that explore issues relating to the ageing in modern society.

Travelling from San Francisco for the festival will be Denah Johnston (pictured, right), an academic-curator-filmmaker and former executive director of The Canyon Cinema Foundation, a Bay area collective that promotes and makes accessible the works of experimental visual artists. She will be presenting a showcase of 16mm film works from woman directors collated from the Canyon archives, entitled Always Something There to Remind Me, as well as a headline-grabbing line-up called ‘Stinky Wieners and Dreamy Beavers’, a retrospective of the late Curt McDowell, a brazen and bold visualist in the style of his mentor and underground cinema legend, George Kuchar.

Returning strands include the now iconic ‘Revel-8’ film competition, which challenges entrants to construct an in-camera 3½ minute work on super 8 film; the Experimental Showcase, featuring 12 paradigm-shattering shorts certain to befuddle and astound; and, Mini Rev, a family-themed celebration of the art of filmmaking and the joy of film watching.

2017 REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL screens at various venues across Perth from July 6-19. Full session and ticket information can be found at the official event website.