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Entries in Nashen Moodley (2)



Having overseen the selection of the 2017 Sydney Film Festival line-up from 100s of hopefuls, the question is there to be asked…what would Nashen watch, again? With his bums-to-seats ratio growing annually and a new raft of films and venues in the mix, there’s an argument to be made that Nashen Moodley is the most successful festival director in Sydney Film Festival history. 

On May 17, a gathering of industry insiders joined journos and sponsors at the Abode Bar in Sydney’s Park Royal Hotel to get the scoop on the best of the fest from the man himself… 

WE DON’T NEED A MAP: Dir Warwick Thornton
Nashen says: “A couple of years ago, Warwick made a very controversial statement that the Southern Cross as a symbol had become the new swastika. He got into a lot of trouble for that but, instead of shying away from it, Warwick decided to make a film about it. It’s a clever documentary that, like the man himself, is funny and provocative.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; the Opening Night film is having its world premiere at Sydney.

FELICITE: Dir. Alain Gomis
Nashen says: “So little is known about African cinema outside of Africa, which is a very sad fact. Set in the Congolese city of Kanchasa, this film is filled with music and magic as well as tragedy. It’s a remarkable film because it subverts the ideals of African cinema in many ways, presenting hardship but within a love story, a resilience against hardship.”
Critics say: “A formally complex work, too long perhaps and occasionally opaque in its meaning, but a daring ride to those wanting to glimpse the best of African cinema.” – The Film Stage

LITTLE HOURS: Dir: Jeff Baena
Nashen says: “This one will cause a little trouble, I think, but it’s very funny. It’s set in a nunnery, where some nuns are not as committed to their as they should be when a hunky deaf mute Dave Franco enters their world. The trailer has made some people angry, but it’s all loosely based on The Decameron, so they’ve had 700 years to be angry about it.”
Critics say: “as it delivers plenty of laughs for its duration it’s difficult to fault The Little Hours for *only* being a funny film.” – Film School Rejects

BLUE: Dir. Karina Holden
Nashen says: “This film paints a horrifying picture about what is going on in our oceans at the moment. Fortunately, we are introduced the film to a number of heroes who are challenging what has been accepted for too long and are changing how are oceans are being treated.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; film is having its World Premiere at Sydney.

THE BEGUILED: Dir. Sofia Coppola.
Nashen says: “There’s sexual tension, heresy, the type of ‘southern hospitality’ that you’ve not seen before. Nicole Kidman is remarkable in this role, that sees her balance between extreme good and quite extreme evil.”
Critics say: “Although the picture is noticeably lacking in taut suspense of the conventional variety, it flies in close to a subtler, hotter flame: The sensuality of deceit.” – TIME

Nashen says: "I’ve been to many Sundance festivals and I can’t recall any films that got a reaction like Patti Cake$. It is very inspirational, with a wonderful performance in the lead by Australian actress Danielle McDonald. It was the focus of a big bidding war and will be one of the best session at our festival.”
Critics say: “Every few years, an indie character comes along who so perfectly captures what it’s like to be mocked and marginalized, even as she refuses to let the bullies and abusers have the last word. That’s the kind of character Patti Cake$ is, and that’s why she stands to become one of the year’s most endearing discoveries” – Variety

THE UNTAMED: Dir. Amat Escalante.
Nashen says: “Escalante has made quite a few very controversial, very extreme films, most notably Heli. He changes tack once again with The Untamed, which is about…um, how to say this…I guess…a sex monster from another planet, capable of providing humans with the greatest pleasure they’ve ever experienced. It is science-fiction, erotica and social realism. It is not one for everyone, I admit.”
Critics say: “Imagine if H.P. Lovecraft had written The Joy of Sex, or better still a porn parody of Andrei Tarkovsky's Stalker.” – CineVue

RUMBLE: THE INDIANS WHO ROCKED THE WORLD: Dir.Catherine Bainbridge, Alfonso Maiorana.
Nashen says: “It is about how native Americans and their music has impacted all kinds of music across many decades. It is a fantastic, surprisning film with so much great music.”
Critics say: “Along with showcasing the evolution of rock music, blues, jazz, folk, pop and even hip hop, Rumble also provides great insight into the hardships that Native Americans endured over the years.” – In The Seats.

Nashen says: “Australia’s first Muslim rom-com. It stars Osamah Sami, the very person upon whom the incredible true story is based. He told his story to a film producer friend, who said ‘We have to make this into a film’.”
Critics say: Nothing, yet; the film is having one of its first showings at Sydney.

OKJA: Dir. Bong Joon-ho
Nashen says: “I have admired this director for a long time; he’s one of the best filmmakers working today. In his homeland of Korea, his films are considered mainstream, where his genre films are blockbusters, earning upwards of 12 million admissions. We’ve shown almost all his films at Sydney; the last one was Snowpiercer.”
Critics say: A gleeful satire about the rapacious US food industry... wrapped neatly around a moving, almost Disney-esque story of a girl and her pet.” – The Daily Mail (UK)



The SOR crowd at the launch of the 2014 Sydney Film Festival (SFF) program were suitably impressed this years statistics – 183 titles from 47 countries, 15 world premieres and 122 Australian premieres amongst them. There was almost a sense of relief when the announcement came that high-profile titles such as David Michod’s The Rover, Dreamworks Animation’s How To Train Your Dragon 2, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood and The Dardennes Brother’s Two Days One Night would screen, many direct from The Croisette. But what were the real gems, some hidden deep within the program, that suggests the 61st edition of SFF is every true cinephile’s dream…?


With the greatest event on the international sports calendar, The World Cup, only weeks away, it should come as no surprise that SFF 2014 catches a little football fever. French sporty splatter-pic Goal of the Dead mashes zombie-apocalypse tropes with Euro-soccer action; Romanian director Corneliu Porumboui commentates uncut footage of a snowbound 1988 game in the bracingly unique The Second Game; two football-mad nations, Italy and Argentina, co-produce Paolo Zucca’s monochromatic farce, The Referee; and, the documentary Next Goal Wins (pictured, above), which charts the resurrection of the Samoan national side after their record-breaking 31-0 loss to Australia in 2001.

The animation veteran never achieved the mainstream profile of his Ghibli Studios contemporary, Hiyao Miyazaki, but Isao Takahata (pictured, right) is just as revered in his homeland and amongst aficionados of Japanese cell-art. Arguably his greatest achievement, the heartbreaking survival story Grave of the Fireflies, will screen in the Salute to Studio Ghibli retrospective; his most recent work, the moving, majestic fable The Tale of The Princess Kaguya, will be a Special Presentation screening at the appropriately grand State Theatre.

Existing in a rarefied cinematic ether full of visions that dance between mainstream film language and avant garde experimentalism, Milwaukee-born Benning is an enigma in international cinema. Nick Bradshaw in Sight and Sound magazine observed, “James Benning’s movies pose an idealistic challenge, a spur to unattainably pure observation.” For four decades, his works have explored the American geo-political landscape through the lens of a patriot, albeit one that questions the murky ethics and humanist impact of his society. “All my films,” he has said, “are an attempt to ask, how liberated am I? Where did I come from? How am I progressing?” Benning will attend, along with director Gabe Kinger, who will introduce his documentary Double Play, a ‘Dinner with Andre’-style pairing of Benning and Richard Linklater.

No great shock that Bong Joon-Ho’s action epic will play in competition; the director’s long history with SFF dates back to 2004’s Memories of Murder, and the critically-acclaimed film has been a smash-hit in his home market, South Korea. The surprise, and a very pleasant one, is that local distributor Roadshow Films (notorious for sending hard-to-market niche product straight to DVD) will screen the director’s cut ahead of a planned Australian theatrical season. Starring Chris Evans, the film has only just set a US release date of June 27 after a protracted edit-suite war with distributor Harvey ‘Scissorhands’ Weinstein.

Imagine Spike Jonze Her by way of Chris Columbus’ Bicentennial Man and you have Ariel Martin’s The iMom, just one of the stand-out finalists of this years Dendy Short Film awards. Fresh off its feting at Flickerfest, Martin’s imaginative take on hi-tech parenting will compete with new works from such talents as Warwick Young (Stuffed), Dave Wade (Welcome to Iron Knob) and Jessica Harris (Crochet Noir).

Thanks largely to the boundless enthusiasm of organiser Mathieu Ravier, the Festival meeting spot The Hub has become a vibrant space in which patrons can unwind and engage in buff banter. In 2014, it welcomes photo-art exhibition Rosebud, from famed lensman Hugh Carpenter, so named after the (spoiler alert) sled in Welles’ Citizen Kane. His work captures celebrities with the one item in their possession that they believe helps define them or holds some significant meaning.

It runs a lean 78 minutes, utilises the increasingly tiresome ‘found footage’ device, stars no-name actors Alexie Gilmore (pictured right) and Bryce Johnson and riffs on the hoary old ‘Bigfoot’ legend; not to mention it is directed by that comic from Police Academy 2 with the shrill, barking voice, Bobcat Goldthwait. So why is Willow Creek shaping up as the giddy thrill-ride of the always popular Freak Me Out program strand? It has some competition, though – Jerome Sable’s blackly-funny musical theatre/slasher effort, Stage Fright; Japan/Indonesia co-production, Killers, from the twisted minds of The Mo Brothers; and, the long overdue snowbound-zombie sequel, Dead Snow 2: Red vs Dead.

Full details of the Sydney Film Festival 2014 program and ticket sales can be found here.