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Entries in Film Festival (4)

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).

 

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.

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.

Monday
Nov282016

CANNIBALS, CADAVERS AND CHRISTMAS KILLERS IN MONSTER FEST WINNERS

The latest ‘New Wave’ of international genre talent was singled out for 2016 honours at the Melbourne horror celebration, Monster Fest, held at the Lido Cinema in upscale suburban Hawthorn last night. Attended by fans and filmmakers alike, the tone for the occasionally raucous event was set by evening sessions of Paul Schrader’s unhinged crime melodrama Dog Eat Dog and the highly anticipated Closing Night feature, Jim Hosking’s stomach-churner The Greasy Strangler.

                             Pictured, above; Olivia DeJonge and Levi Miller in Safe Neighborhood

The festival’s coveted ‘Golden Monster’ Award went to Raw, Julia Ducournau’s teen cannibal drama that wowed critics and audiences at Cannes, where it won the FIPRESCI Critics Prize, before earning similar kudos at festivals across the globe. A guest of Monster Fest since her film opened the event last Thursday, Ducournau was present to accept the award, along with the Best Effects nod, a hotly-contested category that saw Ben Wheatley’s squib-epic Free Fire and Dain Said’s Malaysian vampire folk-lore tale, Interchange, challenge for the prize.

Best International Feature was awarded to Andre Overdahl’s terrifying morgue-set nightmare, The Autopsy of Jane Doe, starring Brian Cox and Emile Hirsch (pictured, right). The Norwegian filmmaker’s follow-up to his cult hit Troll Hunter was shortlisted in several categories, but a particularly competitive field kept the trophy tally to one.

It was a unanimous jury decision to award the Best Australian Feature to Chris Peckover’s Christmas season splatterfest, Safe Neighbourhood. The Australian-shot, US-set black comedy also earned budding teen star Levi Miller (Pan; Red Dog True Blue) the Best Actor nod, for his wildly inventive, against-type portrayal of a good kid turned horribly bad, opposite Ed Oxenbould and the equally impressive Olivia DeJonge. The Best Actress honour was awarded to Mackenzie Davis for her spin on the sociopathic ‘single white female’-type in Sophia Takal’s Always Shine.

Polish director Bartosz M Kowalski earned Best Director for his scorching portrait of alienated teen psychopathology, Playground; the spiritually-infused ‘black magic’ thriller A Dark Song, from Irish feature debutant Liam Gavin, earned dual mentions for Cinematography (Cathal Watters) and Score (Ray Harman). At the behest of the festival jurors, a Best Documentary slot was created to honour Sympathy For The Devil: The True Story of the Process Church of The Final Judgement, director Neil Edwards’ study of the British occult movement f the 1960’s. A humble and truly surprised Edwards was on hand to acknowledge the honour.

Jury members also singled out for ‘Special Mention’ the cast and crew of Rohit Mittal’s Autohead, an Indian found-footage film that follows a repressed rickshaw driver’s descent into homicidal madness. The Monster Innovation Award went to Alice Lowe (pictured, right), the star and director of Prevenge, a ‘pregnant femme-fatale’ satire that the British actress conceived and shot while in the late stages of her own pregnancy. Festival director Kier-la Janisse had the honour of bestowing the Audience Award upon local-lad Addison Heath’s grindhouse shocker, Mondo Yakuza.