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Saturday
Oct132018

★: THE JOHANN LURF INTERVIEW

Johann Lurf stands alongside such auteurs as Guy Maddin, György Pálfi and Christian Marclay as one the world’s great cinematic ‘constructuralists’; filmmakers that build monumental montage movies, reconfiguring frames from hours of other artist’s footage into new and beautiful film visions. His latest is ★, a breathtaking collage of night skies, galaxies and deep-space starfields sourced from over 550 films, dating from the silent film era until mid-2018. “Your audience is getting 115 years of cinematic history in 95 minutes, which should not seem daunting at all,” jokes the Viennese filmmaker, who spoke to SCREEN-SPACE from Munich ahead of his film’s Australian Premiere at the Opening Night of Sydney’s SciFi Film Festival

SCREEN-SPACE: How do you define the artistry of the great cinema montage? It is a good period for the constructuralist movement, with films like Guy Maddin’s The Green Fog (2017) and György Pálfi’s Final Cut: Ladies and Gentlemen (2012) finding festival exposure and critical acclaim. Where does the power lie in a good montage film?

Lurf: It lies in its complexity. There are many different aspects that you can highlight with a simple idea, with the concept of pieces or segments of films pieced together. In the case of The ★ Film, it is an easy to explain concept, but then it opens up and there are many aspects that you have to compare. There are the visual layers, then the fantasy and the romanticism of the single clips, but then the audio provides more historical contextualization. You can also begin to see how the stars were being used by the mechanics of cinema and what they are representing. The great montage film makes us focus not only on a specific  element or theme, but also helps us understand a ‘meta-layer’, something that we as a society or as humans have in common.  Like Christian Marclay’s The Clock (2010), which is clearly not just about a clock but is about us, the human race.

SCREEN-SPACE: ★ has no narrative structure and no traditional human connection on-screen, yet it is an engaging, often very emotional film-watching experience. What is your theory of why it has connected with audiences so universally?

Lurf: When you see an image or hear a sound, it takes you only a split-second to interpret it. When we are immersed and engaged by a film, we do that for every second of the experience. We understand which emotion the character is experiencing, regardless of whether they are a man or woman or kid or Japanese or whatever, when they experiencing something sad or profound or adoring, we share that. Our senses are so acutely trained to read images, sound, language, it is impossible to escape being influenced. The machine of cinema we are sitting in is perfectly designed to affect our senses, so the basis for an emotional connection is already there. And then you have the range of images in the film, the language and the music, which build upon that.

SCREEN-SPACE: The vastness of space and the confines of a cinema are both essentially deep, dark voids illuminated by millions of points of light. Your film bridges those voids, it’s fair to say…

Lurf: I’ve never heard it described in such a great way as you’ve described it just now (laughs). I definitely see them as very much connected. The predecessor of cinema is the night sky itself; for the many thousands of years that humans have been looking at the night sky, they have been looking at a very similar image as modern audiences do with cinema. It is a three-dimensional space represented in a two-dimensional way, like how a picture is recorded by a camera. The night sky is moving, but you can’t see it moving, so you have this contradiction, whereas cinema is the other way around – frames, moments captured in time, that are still images but that appear to be moving. But we can look at both and contemplate what we see and what they mean to us. Another similarity is that you look into many different pasts when you look into the night sky – some of the stars are already dead, others are still shining. Staring at the stars is like entering a warped sense of time, pasts that we are able observe, and cinema can do that as well.

SCREEN-SPACE: You set yourself and adhere to very strict artistic guidelines in ★…

Lurf: The work I’ve done before – my shorts, the found-footage or researched-footage films – I utilize the ‘hard cut’ because it is an intervention that is clearly the artist’s choice, or my choice. At the same time, it doesn’t modify the source the material, meaning I don’t have to remove something from the image or slow down the footage or anything like that. I merely accentuate through editing, which for me is the most respectful way to use other artist’s work. It is a hard intrusion into the original work, but it can only be read as my act of selecting and cutting. The material should speak by itself, without me being too didactic or offering too much commentary, because I always love to have my audience interpret, or misinterpret, what they see. Misinterpretation is an impressive creative moment, because it means you have to ask yourself, ‘What am I not understanding here?’ It forces you to re-engage, to get closer to the work. I think those moments are the most inspiring that you can have in a cinema.

SCREEN-SPACE: You have cited the starscape in Roberto Rossellini’s Stromboli as the starting point for your fascination with the cinematic night sky. Is their a starfield in your film that you recall as being the most beautiful, perhaps your favourite?

Lurf: Actually, I try not to think in terms of what is ‘the best’ or apply some kind of superlative. In fact, I love more than 90% of the starry nights in the film and I don’t want to compare them to each other; they are so different to one another, it is impossible to judge whether any one is better or worse. Some have fantastic audio, or one looks great, or one might create a floating sensation.

SCREEN-SPACE: Are you dodging the question because your favourite is, in fact, 'Dude Where’s My Car?'

Lurf: (Laughs) No, I’m dodging the question for conceptual reasons. To pick one or two or a Top Ten out of the film would be to assign other clips a lesser quality, which I can’t do.

SCREEN-SPACE: Did you foresee the film travelling as extensively as it has?

Lurf: I had no idea how people would react to this film, so that they are reacting at all and with such enthusiasm is very pleasing. I’m so sorry I couldn’t be in Sydney for the screening; I’ve just come from Ireland, and today I’m in Munich, and next week I’m in Norway and then I’ve two screenings in Spain, then back to Italy. It has been quite crazy what is happening with the film and it makes it me very happy.

Johann Lurf's ★ opens the SciFi Film Festival on Thursday October 18 at Event Cinemas George Street. Ticket and sessions details here.

Johann Lurf ★ Trailer from Johann Lurf on Vimeo.

 

 

Friday
Sep072018

R.I.P. BURT REYNOLDS

At the peak of his box office dominance, Burt Reynolds embodied true Hollywood movie stardom. His appeal was what the modern industry calls ‘four-quadrant’; men, women, young and old found him captivating, relatable, magnetic, charming, rugged and self-effacing. Whether as the sleeveless tough-guy hunk in Deliverance, the giggly renegade bootleggin’ good ol’ boy in Smokey and The Bandit or the smooth, insidious porn industry patriarch in slow decline in Boogie Nights, Reynolds held the audience in the palm of his hand with a twinkling silver-screen quality that was uniquely his own and adored by millions.

He passed away in Florida on September 6, aged 82… 

The Television Years:
When his promising football career was ended by injury, Reynolds turned to the theatre to restart his life. Noticed after a breakthrough turn in a stage revival of ‘Mister Roberts’ and blessed with the smouldering photogenic qualities of a Brando or Clift, Reynolds was soon cast on staples such as Riverboat, Playhouse 90, The Aquanauts, Gunsmoke, Hawk and Dan August. The small-screen adored Reynolds; he would become a regular guest on The Tonight Show, sharing a hilarious chemistry with host Johnny Carson, and returned to popular series television in the 90’s with B.L. Stryker and the hit Evening Shade, which earned him Golden Globe and Emmy trophies.

The Breakthrough Films:
Launching his big screen career in 1961, Reynolds debuted with a bit part in the George Hamilton vehicle Angel Baby followed by the WWII actioner, Armored Command (pictured, right). He graduated to top billing with Operation C.I.A. (1965), but it would be Navajo Joe (1966) that really launched him as a viable Hollywood lead; it led to an apprenticeship that included programmers 100 Rifles, Sam Whiskey, Impasse, Shark (all 1969) and Skullduggery (1970). Richard Colla’s action-comedy Fuzz (1972), opposite Racquel Welch, primed audiences for what would become one of Reynolds’ most iconic performances… 

The ‘70s:
Based upon James Dickey’s bestseller, British director John Boorman’s Deliverance cast Reynolds as Lewis, the outdoor action man who turns from muscle-bound tough guy to weakened warrior faced with his own mortality. The film earned three Oscar nominations; Reynolds was embraced by audiences as the breakout star of the film. In quick succession, he worked with Woody Allen (Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex* But Were Afraid To Ask, 1972) and Mel Brooks (Silent Movie, 1976), launching his comedy persona; solidified his action man reputation (Shamus; The Man Who Loved Cat Dancing; White Lightning); enjoyed blockbuster success collaborating with director Robert Aldrich on The Longest Yard (1974; pictured, above) and Hustle (1975); and, flexed his directing muscles with Gator (1976).

 

Superstardom:
In 1977, Burt Reynolds became a global superstar on the back of one of the most profitable comedies of all time. Directed by legendary stuntman and Burt’s best bud Hal Needham, Smokey and The Bandit was second only to Star Wars as the most popular film of the year, taking in US$127million in the summer of ’77; adjusted for inflation, that represents a domestic gross of US$528million (despite poor reviews, the 1980 Bandit sequel still took a handsome US$66million; adjusted, US$202million). Reynolds double-downed on box office glory in 1977 opposite Kris Kristofferson in the bawdy football yarn Semi-Tough. One of cinema’s great romantic (and unlikely) match-ups came out of the Bandit films, which paired Reynolds with Sally Field (pictured, right); they would light up the screen again in 1978 in the hit Hooper and the black comedy, The End. The decade was not without its misfires, but these films largely represent Reynolds fearlessly seeking to stretch beyond his ‘good ol’ boy’ screen persona – Peter Bogdanovich’s At Long Last Love (1975) and Nickelodeon (1976); John G Avildsen’s W.W. and the Dixie Dancekings (1975); and, Stanley Donen’s Lucky Lady (1975).

 

The ‘80s:
Reynolds played the movie star dutifully in the new decade. In 1981, he launched an all-star franchise with the loosely-structured action comedy blockbuster The Cannonball Run; paired himself with fellow ‘80s box office draws Goldie Hawn (Best Friends, 1982), Clint Eastwood (City Heat, 1984) and , ahem, Liza Minnelli (Rent-a-Cop, 1987); and, delivered a series of video-friendly thrillers (Stick, 1985; Heat, 1986; Malone, 1987; Physical Evidence, 1989). But Reynolds never stopped challenging the audience’s perception of his leading man credibility. Over the course of the decade, he played sensitive (Starting Over, 1979), suave (Rough Cut, 1980), satirical (Paternity, 1981) and sharp-witted (Switching Channels, 1988). He directed the mean, lean police thriller Sharky’s Machine (1981; pictured, right) and proved an unlikely musical-comedy natural in The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas (1982). He all but killed off the action-comedy genre he helped create with 1983’s Stroker Ace and offered up a legitimate dud in Blake Edwards’ tone-deaf romantic farce The Man Who Loved Women (1983), but Reynolds never lost his ambition or stopped working.

 

Porn Goes to The Oscars…:
The 1990s and 2000s saw Reynolds shift gears between smaller festival fodder (Breaking In, 1989; Citizen Ruth, 1996), distinctive voice work (All Dogs Go To Heaven, 1989; Delgo, 2008; A Magic Christmas, 2014) and ironic cameos (The Player, 1992). Critics hated his comeback film, the Demi Moore vehicle Striptease (1996; pictured, right) but loved his out-there performance. The decade came into sharp career focus when director Paul Thomas Anderson sought out, fought with and guided to an Oscar nomination the actor for his porn industry odyssey, Boogie Nights (1997); Reynolds hated the shoot and expressed a desire to disown the performance, yet emerged from the film with some of the best reviews of his career. From his Florida base, he worked steadily throughout the 2010s, livening up standard villains (‘Boss Hogg’ in The Dukes of Hazzard, 2005) and occasionally playing his age (The Crew, 2000). He earned solid notices opposite Ariel Winter in Adam Rifkins’ The Last Movie Star (2017). Regrettably, he passed away before shooting scenes as ‘George Spahn’ in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood; his final appearance will be in Stephen Wallis’ Defining Moments.

Thursday
Sep062018

PREVIEW: 2018 SCIFI FILM FESTIVAL

Tickets available from the Event Cinemas George Street box office and online here

Australia’s leading celebration of science-fiction cinema, the SciFi Film Festival, has a wondrous line-up of breathtaking works from the planet’s most visionary filmmakers as part of their fifth anniversary edition.

From 18th to 21st October, Sydney audiences seeking an adventurous movie-going experience will converge on the Event Cinemas George St complex to view 25 groundbreaking genre works from 11 countries, including two world premieres, 18 Australian premieres and 3 New South Wales premieres. (Pictured, above; Dan Prince's short Invaders) 

Nine features and 16 short films will play across the four days of the SciFi Film Festival. Countries represented include Australia (6 films), the United Kingdom (5), the U.S.A. (4), Germany (2), Canada (2), Hong Kong (1), France (1), The Netherlands (1), Lebanon (1), Austria (1) and the Dominican Republic (1).   

Opening Night audiences will be treated to a thrilling, unique cinematic experience with the Australian premiere of Johann Lurf’s ★ (pictured, right). This towering achievement examines how the night sky and the deep void that lies beyond, has been portrayed on screen in 100 years of cinema. The Austrian ‘constructuralist’ has compiled starscapes from over 550 films, from the silent era to 2018, resulting in a captivating work of the imagination; a montage-doc that celebrates humanity’s drive to explore the galaxy and how filmmakers have conjured that experience for us all.

Screening on Friday October 19 are films that will explore the ‘alien’ sub-genre. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of her iconic TV show ‘The X-Files’, Gillian Anderson will re-engage with her loyal fanbase with the Australian premiere of the conspiracy-theory thriller, UFO. Close out your Friday evening of extra-terrestrial interaction with CANARIES, a ‘Shaun-of-the-Dead’-style comedy/sci-fi romp in which Welsh New Year’s Eve partygoers must face off against an invading intergalactic force.

Across the weekend, the eclectic program will present films that have played such festivals as Karlovy Vary, FrightFest, Sitges and Sundance: Direct from its award-winning World Premiere at SXSW, PROSPECT stars the remarkable Sophie Thatcher in an interplanetary survival thriller; Dominican director Héctor Valdez remakes the Australian time-travel/rom-com ‘The Infinite Man’ as the delightfully off-kilter romp PEACHES; and, the rise of A.I. and the impact of sentient robotics is explored in the quietly-frightening documentary, MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN.

Two Australian features are highlights of the 2018 features roster. Director Adam Harris will present his heart-warming ‘Star Wars’-themed documentary, MY SAGA, followed by a Q&A session with his friend and co-host of SBS’s ‘The Feed’ program, Marc Fennell; and, direct from its World Premiere at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the confronting dramatic feature REFLECTIONS IN THE DUST (pictured, right) will be presented by writer/director Luke Sullivan for a session that is sure to inspire a passionate post-screening panel discussion, to be hosted by Fiona Williams, host of the hit podcast Eyes on Gilead and managing editor of SBS Movies.

Closing Night will be a celebration of ‘80s nuclear paranoia, with final-session honours bestowed upon the cult classic MIRACLE MILE. Writer/director Steve De Jarnatt’s 1989 romantic thriller, starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham and featuring a soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, will see the inside of a Sydney cinema for the first time in three decades. Ahead of the feature presentation, director Johann Earl will screen the World Premiere of his alien warzone actioner SHIFT, starring Bianca Bradey (‘Wyrmwood: Road of The Dead’).

Soaring visions and complex themes are central to the 2018 short films selection. The 16 shorts feature a selection of truly inspired cinematic works from such fields as animation (Alex Fung’s EKO); steampunk-influenced animatronics (Fadi Baki Fdz’s MANIVELLE: THE LAST DAYS OF THE MAN OF TOMORROW); music video aesthetics (Marc Adamson’s AFTER WE HAVE LEFT OUR HOMES); experimental (Xavier Brydges’ WESTALL); and, effects-heavy deep-space drama (Bobby Bala’s THE SHIPMENT). One of Australia’s most respected film journalists, Travis Johnson, will host a Q&A with attending directors on the passion for genre storytelling that drives their short film projects.

All features will be in Official Competition for festival honours in the categories Best Film, Actor, Actress, Music/Sound and Effects. Short films will vie for awards in Best Australian and Best International categories. The Jury Members will be announced closer to the festival dates.

The Sci-Fi Film Festival supports positive gender representation in its 2018 selection; 16 of the 25 productions (or 64%) feature a woman in one of the four key production positions. Five female directors have their works represented in the program - JESSICA CHAMPNEYS (‘Star Wars: Dresca’, US); SOPHIA SCHONBORN (‘Spacedogs’, Germany), KAT WOOD (‘Stine’, U.K.), FEMKE WOLTING (co-director, ‘More Human Than Human’, The Netherlands) and EMILY LIMYUN DEAN (‘Andromeda’, Australia/U.S./Germany; pictured, above).

Making its debut in 2018 is The SciFi Film Festival Vanguard Award, presented to an individual whose unique creative endeavours display a determination and fearlessness in the face of adversity. The inaugural honouree will be 2000 Sydney Paralympian-turned-actress, Sarah Houbolt, star of REFLECTIONS IN THE DUST.

SCREEN-SPACE is an Official Media Partner of the 2018 SciFi Film Festival.

(A RE-POST OF THE PROGRAM ANNOUNCEMENT PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY SCIFI FILM FESTIVAL PROGRAM DIRECTOR AND SCREEN-SPACE EDITOR, SIMON FOSTER)

 

Thursday
Aug092018

PREVIEW: 2018 SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL

The latest from New Zealand’s ‘New Wave of Comedy’, a German film student’s thesis being hailed as one of the most exciting debuts in years and a triptych of punkish retro classics are just some of the avenues that adventurous patrons can wander down at this year’s Sydney Underground Film Festival (SUFF). The 12th annual celebration of cinema that shocks, confounds and seduces kicks into gear September 13 at its spiritual home, the iconic Factory Theatre in Sydney’s inner-west.

The 4-day soiree leads with the Australian premiere of Mega Time Squad, a crowd-pleasing, off-kilter romp from across The Ditch. Having won hearts at the genre confab Fantasia (rogerebert.com called it a, “sci-fi mini-odyssey with lots of creativity and even more laugh-out-loud gags”), writer/director Tim van Dammen’s time-loop comedy features Anton Tenet as a wannabe gangster who stumbles upon mystical jewellery that allows for time-space shenanigans. Co-star Jonny Brugh, who stole all his scenes in What We Do in The Shadows, will attend Opening Night ahead of hosting the Screen Acting & Improv Workshop on Saturday, September 15.

The feature film roster runs to 27 idiosyncratic visions, including 11 Australian premieres. Most notable amongst the 2018 line-up is Tilman Singer’s Luz (pictured, top), a film-studies thesis project shot on 16mm that Variety lauded as, “equal measures demonic-possession thriller, experiment in formalist rigor, and flummoxing narrative puzzle-box.” Other sessions certain to rattle adventurous Sydney patrons include Reinert Kill’s Norwegian yuletide slasher epic Christmas Blood; director Ethan Hawke’s Blaze (pictured, right), a deconstructionist musical-biopic of redneck country music star Blaze Foley, starring Benjamin Dickey in the title role alongside Alia Shawkat and Sam Rockwell; Wang Jinsong’s How Far Tomorrow, one of the first Chinese films to address drug addiction and in doing so, defy the strict censorship laws governing the nation’s filmmakers; and, Lucio A. Rojas’ appropriately-titled Chilean home-invasion horror ordeal, Trauma (read our full review here).

Underground icons represented this year include Canadian badboy Bruce La Bruce with The Misandrists, a lesbian-anarchy patriarchal takedown that deconstructs feminist ideals; Sion Sono, whose buckets-of-blood mini-series opus Tokyo Vampire Hotel has been re-edited into a still-epic 144 minute theatrical cut; and Winnipeg’s favourite son Guy Maddin who, with collaborators, Evan Johnson and Galen Johnson, presents his latest montage masterwork, the Vertigo-inspired The Green Fog.

SUFF will also recognize one of the lesser-known DIY giants of alternative art in the form of Stephen Groo, a micro-budget auteur whose output of over 180 films of next-to-no quality has earned him cult(ish) status and fans such as Napoleon Dynamite filmmaker Jared Hess, screenwriter Mike White and Jemaine Clements. Scott Christopherson’s profile-doc The Magic of Groo will screen ahead of the World Premiere of Groo’s latest effort, a remake of his own 2003 film The Unexpected Race, which this time around has ensnared Jack Black in a lead role (pictured, right).

The always-popular retrospective sessions include a 30th anniversary screening of William Lustig’s cult ‘video nasty’ Maniac Cop, set to screen after the Sydney premiere of the documentary King Cohen, a profile of the legendary Larry Cohen, the film’s writer (read our review of King Cohen here); a restored print of Slava Tsukerman’s 1982 post-punk/alien invasion oddity, Liquid Sky; and, with director Alex Proyas in attendance to front a post-screening Q&A, the 1989 dystopian desert-world freak-out Spirits of The Air, Gremlins of The Clouds. Also enjoying a resurrection of sorts will be Charles Band’s VHS-fuelled Puppet Master franchise, with the latest installment Puppet Master: The Littlest Reich (written by Bone Tomahawk’s Craig Zahler) having its Australian Premiere at The Factory.

The 2018 factual film program once again honours a diverse range of free-thinkers, from vanguard artists (Oren Jacoby’s Shadowman, a profile of NYC street-artist Richard Hambleton; Philipp Jedicke’s study of enigmatic muso Chilly Gonzalez, Shut Up and Play the Piano; Chuck Smith’s Barbara Rubin & The Exploding New York Underground) to left-field theorists (Daniel J. Clarke’s insight into the Flat Earther’s movement, Behind the Curve; Werner Boote’s environmental industry expose, The Green Lie). Of the 13 feature-length docs programmed, six films bow on these shores for the first time, including Josh Polon’s MexMan and Jerry Tartaglia’s Escape From Rented Island: The Lost Paradise of Jack Smith.

The traditional five-tiered Short Film program returns, under the banners Love/Sick, LSD Factory, Ozploit!, Reality Bites and WTF! Most intriguing amongst the eclectic agenda is Allen Anders Live at The Comedy Castle Circa 1987 (pictured, right), a now legendary stand-up session meltdown that was thought to have been lost to time but which has resurfaced in all its grainy, white-knuckle glory thanks to director Laura Moss.

The 12th edition of SUFF will close out with one of the hottest genre titles on the 2018 festival circuit, Panos Cosmatos' bleak and brutal headscratcher, Mandy. Starring Nicholas Cage in one of the most critically-praised roles of his contemporary career, Cosmatos takes on 80s-style revenge-fantasy cinema with a pulsating urgency and nightmarish bent that Sight and Sound described as, "a mind-melting genre orgy of cosmic proportions that’s ridiculously fun."

The 2018 SYDNEY UNDERGROUND FILM FESTIVAL will run September 13-16 at The Factory Theatre, Marrickville. Session and ticket information can be found at the events’ official website.

Tuesday
Jul242018

RUSSIAN WWII MASTERPIECE RESURRECTED FOR SYDNEY AUDIENCES

And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, Come and see. 
And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him.” - The Book of Revelations, Chapter 6: Verse 7-8.

Elem Klimov was a young man when the German military seized Stalingrad, forcing what was left of his family to flee; with his mother and younger brother, the teenage Klimov crossed the Volga River in freezing temperatures on a makeshift raft.

With co-writer and fellow World War II survivor Ales Adamovisch, Klimov drew upon the horrors he witnessed under Nazi rule for his 1985 film Come and See (Idi I smotri), now widely considered one of the most harrowing depictions of wartime suffering ever filmed. Australian audiences have a rare opportunity to see the film courtesy of the Russian Resurrection Film Festival, who will be screening a digitally remastered print this Sunday, July 29 in Sydney and Brisbane.

Come and See depicts the journey of a young man named Florya, played by 14 year-old non-actor Aleksei Kravchenko (pictured, top) in one of international cinema’s most remarkable film debuts. Klimov (pictured, right) and Adamovich present Florya as an idealistic freedom fighter, determined to rid his Eastern European homeland of Byelorussia (modern Belarus) of the German occupiers. As the young man’s narrative unfolds, the audience endures through his naïve experiences horrific acts of genocide, destruction and cruelty. Almost every moment in the film is based upon documented fact; Adamovich hailed from the region during the period and Klimov shot much of his film on the very soil that the atrocities took place.

Prior to his wartime masterpiece, Elem Klimov had forged a respected career for himself within the Russian sector with films such as the popular satires Welcome, or No Trespassing (1964) and Adventures of a Dentist (1965); the docu-drama Sport, Sport, Sport (1970); and, the troubled historical epic Agony The Rise and Fall of Rasputin, which debuted in 1981, despite principal photography having wrapped in 1976. In 1979, Klimov lost his wife, fellow filmmaker Larisa Shepitko in a car accident; he dedicated the early 80s to producing a short feature in her honour, named Larisa (1980) and finishing her own dream project, a social drama called Proshchanie (1983).

Many critics and film scholars have surmised that it was the grip of this dark period of grief that inspired Klimov’s use of language, sound and visual motifs in Come and See. Florya, young innocent Glasha (Olga Mironova; pictured, below) and much of the support cast spend their roles directly staring into the camera as their world and loved ones disintegrate before them; Klimov’s audience is party to the nightmarish escalation of violence and brutality via the first-person technique, resulting in a world of horribly-skewed disorientation yet rendered in vivid, stark honesty. The director’s soundscape has been lauded as revolutionary; the use of impressionistic surrealism to interpret torture and murder on a vast scale proves inescapably confronting for both Florya and the viewer.

The film was released to coincide with the 40th anniversary of Russia’s WWII victory and drew some criticism from quarters who thought it was propagandistic. The portrayal of the German officers (based upon the infamous 36th Waffen Grenadier Division of the SS) is unforgiving, yet Klimov stated vehemently many times that the film is anti-war and anti-fascism but not anti-German. Come and See became a box office sensation in its homeland, was submitted as Russia’s Foreign Film Oscar entrant (although was not selected) and would earn two major trophies at the 1985 Moscow International Film Festival.

Klimov was named the First Secretary of the Russian Filmmakers' Union, a newly-established, progressively-minded industry body that, in the then prevailing spirit of ‘glasnost’, opened the film industry to fresh new ideologies. His masterwork would grow in stature in the prevailing years, with industry luminaries such as Oscar winning screenwriter Frank Pierson (Cool Hand Luke, 1967; Dog Day Afternoon, 1975) and two-time WGA award recipient Larry Karaszewski (Ed Wood, 1994; The People vs Larry Flynt, 1996) calling it the greatest war film ever made. Cinematographer Roger Deakins, Oscar winning cinematographer of Blade Runner 2019, includes Come and See as one his ‘10 Greatest Films of All Time’; Empire magazine named Come and See one of the 100 Best Films of World Cinema, stating “No film – not Apocalypse Now, not Full Metal Jacket – spells out the dehumanising impact of conflict more vividly, or ferociously.” As voted by a prestigious body of film directors, it ranked 30th on Sight and Sound’s poll of The Greatest Films Ever Made.

In an interview in 1986, Klimov (pictured, left; on-set, directing Kravchenko) addressed the responsibility of the role he had undertaken within the Union and when his next project would be announced. “I would much rather not have my present job. I didn't want this job in the first place,” he said with a laugh. “But this is a special moment right now. A lot of changes have to be made quickly. I am completely absorbed in this new job. But I hope that perhaps next year I will be able to start a new film.”

A fitting legacy, Come and See proved to be Elem Klimov’s final work. He remained committed to his work within the bureaucracy of the Russian film industry until his passing in October 2003, aged 70.

The Russian Resurrection Film Festival with present COME AND SEE at the Event Cinemas George Street Sydney and Event Cinemas Myer Centre Brisbane this Sunday, July 29. Ticketing information is via the venue's official website.