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Paris-based filmmaker Davy Chou was born into a cinematic heritage that largely exists today in the memories of aging artisans. His grandfather was Van Chann, one of the leading film producers from Cambodia’s golden age of cinema, which ran from 1960 through to its demise at the hands of the Khmer Rouge in the 1975. When the brutal rebel forces stormed Phnom Penh, theatres were destroyed, actors and filmmakers were slaughtered in the hundreds and a vast film history was systematically destroyed. In his film Golden Slumbers, Chou recounts the time when Cambodian cinema was the pulse of a proud and progressive nation. Softly-spoken but passionate and forthright, the young director spoke with SCREEN-SPACE when in Sydney for the film’s Sydney Film Festival premiere; it screens this week as part of Perth’s Revelations Film Festival.  

What is your earliest recollection of seeing Cambodian cinema?

One day I went to my aunt’s house, with my mum, and my aunt was very excited because she had just received a VHS from the US with all Cambodian films. Everybody was very excited as we wanted to know if it was the film of my grandfather because for 35 years we hadn’t seen any of the films with my grandfather. Unfortunately, it wasn’t those films, it was two other films. We watched the first film and it was very strange; I couldn’t speak Khmer and it was in black and white with this kind of redubbed voices from the 1990. But there was a trailer between the two films and it was a trailer for a film of my grandfather.

Golden Slumbers is a beautiful looking film, shot with incredible artistry. It is not that common amongst low-budget documentaries that the finished product is so polished.

We did everything we could to raise one’s imagination of the films; that was the main purpose of my film. I didn’t want to show the old films because I wanted to be faithful to Cambodia as it was when I arrived there, where the old films are not shown anymore. So even if the films had not existed for 40 years, I wanted to make (the memory) of them seem very vivid and real, and I did that with my use of sound and image and really concentrating on things like cinematography. At the end, I wanted the audience to have felt that they had seen the films even if I had nothing to show. (pictured, right, Chou with the film's Yvon Hem, Dy Saveth, Ly You Sreang and Ly Bun Yim)

You were born and bred in France and did not visit Canbodia until your mid 20s. Recount for us what the experience of reconnecting with your genealogical homeland was like.

I was naive in thinking it wasn’t going to change my life when, of course, it did. I didn’t know the culture, I didn’t speak the language but I had this strong desire to learn all that I could, mostly to honour and understand my parent’s heritage. Also, I had this film project and I thought I had to know the country, even just a little. But by the end of my time there, I felt very much part of the people and the culture, which was unusual because I was still a Westerner, born in France, as you say. I met a lot of family there and also formed relationships with the four main characters in the film, who all became like aunts and uncles. When I can back to France I had not expected to have been changed so much.

Did the impetus for Golden Slumbers come from that visit or had you begun the pre-production process? Was that trip essential in terms of research, for example?

Of course, I needed to make the research there because there is nothing outside of there. But even in Cambodia, on my first trip in 2008, I couldn’t find films there. I went to the markets, I went to the Bophana Centre, which is the archive building in Phnom Penh; nothing. Then one guy, a French guy working in the archive, said to me, “You know this website, right?” and I said “Which website”. And he showed me this amazing blog, written in French by a Cambodian who moved to France after the Khmer Rouge, and he had on this blog the entire filmography of Cambodian cinema. It was all there – by year, casting, music. From that website, I was able to access the surviving films, around 25 or 30 films, I think, all of very bad quality. That was in France, but back in Cambodia the biggest resource I had was just talking to the people. And not just the people who made the films but also the population who remember the films. (pictured, above, Chou preparing to film actress Dy Saveth)

I understand that the population was integral in helping you locate the old theatres sites you visit in the film.

I had to talk to the population just to find the buildings that were once the theatres, because now, as you see in the film, they have all been turned into restaurants and pool halls and so on. The filmmakers couldn’t help me with that, because they only knew of the three main theatres (where films were premiered). But it was the population who took me around, pointing out “This was a theatre” and “This was a theatre.”It was a reconstruction of a memory in a very collective process, because everybody brought one story that helped us imagine that the past was once like this. It had been so destroyed that, at the beginning, it was very hard to understand.

How important was the national cinema to the people of Cambodia in the pre-Khmer Rouge period?

They say that before 1960 there were films showing in Phnom Penh, Indian films and Chinese films, but the most popular form of entertainment was traditional theatre. But when Cambodian films came out, they became very popular, very quickly. It had to do with a love of their own culture; they were very proud to see Cambodian actors in big theatres. But I have to say that the political context was very important as well. With communism starting in 1960 and ended in 1975, people always talk about the same period for films, from 1972 to especially 1975, when the nation was in the middle of a civil war and the Khmer Rouge were getting closer and closer to Phnom Penh. It was very dangerous and people from Phnom Penh couldn’t go outside the city limits, so movies were the only form of entertainment for them. And many of the big movie fans I spoke to were teenagers then, so you can understand, their lives seen through the context of war, why film was so important and so unforgettable for them. One of the cinephiles, at the end (of the film), says he forgot the face of his parents but not the faces of the actors. That is because of this special feeling that, for him, cinema was everything, I guess.

Western cultures like Australia and the US and your homeland of France have very clear chronological histories of their film culture’s development that each generation draws upon. Yet Cambodia is missing a huge chunk of its history. How is that impacting the young Cambodian filmmakers of today?

First of all, there are not too many filmmakers in Cambodia. There is no film school, no one teaching film at the moment, but I think, well, I hope that is going to change. I know some young filmmakers there, and they have heard of the great years of Cambodian cinema, mostly from their parents, but they don’t have access to the films and there are no books, so.... But I think it is a bridge to build again. That is not really the purpose of my film, but if it can help in that way, that would be good and interesting. The link that has been broken between the old generation and this new one should not have been broken. Should a new film school open, so much has changed in filmmaking since that great time, many might think the surviving filmmakers should not be teachers, that techniques have changed too much. But I think a place should be found for them because they are the keepers of the film history of their country. 

Golden Slumbers has found tremendous favour with critics and audiences since you completed the film in 2010. That is a long journey for you. Did you have any notion that it would be so embraced in so many different cultures?

It is hard for me to imagine a time before Golden Slumbers (laughs)! I never imagined the film would have had this sort of impact or been this successful. Before I made the film, I would tell people I was making a documentary about Cambodian cinema and they would say “Ok....” (laughs). But, in the end, they realise it is a very universal theme. Everybody loves cinema, every country has a cinema, so the experience of imagining what it would be like if that cinema was lost...well, that gets people interested.

Golden Slumbers will screen at MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL on Friday 10th August at 6.30pm and Tuesday 14th August at 4.30pm.



A selection of the late Jeff Keen's brilliantly bizarre film work screens at Perth's Revelations Film Festival - the first retrospective since the underground icon passed away last month.

Jeffrey John Spencer Keen was an avant-garde visionary who chose a career of questioning and challenging artistry at a time when it was particularly difficult to do so. A contemporary of such unique talents as Andy Warhol and George and Mike Kuchar, Keen passed away on June 21 at the age of 88.

Based for most of his life with his wife and muse Jackie (pictured, right in 1968's Meatdaze) in the artistic hub that was Brighton, the insatiably prolific Keen officially made 70 films, though it is believed the number could be well over 100. A celebrated painter, poet and sculptor who masterfully expressed an idiosyncratic view of society, his films exhibited a “lo-fi, DIY aesthetic, fascination with popular culture, sexual openness, and playful approach to personae”, commented UK’s The Independent newspaper. Recognizable techniques included crude but mesmerizing animation, collage overlapping, use of archival footage, friends and family non-actors, even the deliberate scratching of the film surface; his stock of choice was Super 8.    

The Revelations Film Festival, beginning this week in Perth, will offer the first retrospective appraisal of Keen’s work since his passing. Although the event was programmed several months prior to Keen’s death and has toured the world since it was curated by his daughter Stella Starr in 2010, it will be the first such gathering that allows both fans and newcomers to assess his films with the knowledge the artist’s work is complete. The program consists of short-films Wail (1960), Flik Flak (1964-65, below), Marvo Movie (1967), White Dust (1972), The Dreams and Past Crimes of the Archduke (1979-84), Omozap + Omozap 2 (1991), Artwar (1993), Plasticator (1990s) and Joy Thru Film (2000). Revelation’s program describes the works as “a visually rich, rapid paced, often loud and lurid, celebration of all that is cinema.”

“I grew up in Brighton, amongst quite a vibrant artistic community” says Jack Sargeant, Program Director of Revelations, “and he was someone whose work and life we were all aware of. His role in the underground film community is very important, it can’t be underestimated.”

On screening the retrospective so soon after Keen’s passing, Sargeant says, “Of course, there will be a poignancy in the air, but his films were full of life and excitement and he was such a brave, kind person. I think that is how best to remember someone like Jeff Keen.” With Stella Starr honouring her agreement to attend the Revelations screenings, Sargeant is aware the mood may be sombre. “There’s always that tension between the poignancy and the celebration, though (our intent) will be that the event becomes a celebration of his work.”

Jeff Keen Retrospective takes place on Saturday July 14th at the Astor Theatre, Mt Lawley.

Jeff Keen Interview from Canyon/Inkbox on Vimeo.




Director Stuart Stanton will premiere his charming comedy Charlie Bonnet at this years's Dungog Film Festival, attending the much-anticipated event with cast members Peter Stanley, Mat Jones and Di Joselle, composer Brian Canham, director of photography Joel Frances and partner and co-producer Karen Elgar. Five days out from the screening, he talks to SCREEN-SPACE about his funny ode to blind ambition.

Where did the inspiration for Charlie Bonnet come from? Is he an inner-city wanna-be actor archetype with which you are familiar?

The inspiration for Charlie Bonnet came from years of doing short films and corporate productions where I had to watch many, many showreels. What I found was that there are some actors whose unswerving belief that they will be 'the next big thing' doesn't quite match their ability. I know that sounds a bit mean but it is the truth. I always found watching showreels of bad actors to be awkward; I felt embarrassed for them but at the same time I was greatly inspired by their passion and commitment to their art and what they believed in. Tragedy and comedy.

There is an ‘everyman’ quality about the character that goes a long way to making Charlie relatable. He’s not that pretentious actor/wanker type.

I think Charlie is someone everyone can connect with - a person who loves what they do so much but is completely oblivious to how bad they are at it. We all know someone like that: the karaoke addict whose voice can strip paint from walls or the Guitar Hero guru who thinks they should front their own band. Maybe it's also something we secretly fear about ourselves. But you know, it doesn't matter at all, these people love doing what they do and we love them for their dedication. It takes real guts to do that. Besides, we're Aussies and we love the underdog!

One of my favourite films is Peter Sellers in The Party; is Charlie that sort of clueless, talentless buffoon, devoid of self-awareness?

It's a very good comparison. You can draw similarities for sure. Charlie Bonnet is definitely a talentless awkward man who for the most part is oblivious to his actions, but that's what makes him loveable. Just like Peter Sellers in The Party, he's always trying to impress and no matter what he does the world and everything in it is just against him. He never gives up and he's always pushing forward no matter how challenging the problems thrown at him are.  

How do you convince an actor to roll the dice on his career by playing a "bad actor"? Tell me how you and Peter Stanley (pictured, below) went about creating 'Charlie Bonnet'? 

I've known Pete for a while, since film school. We always talk about funny characters and situations. There was no convincing, I just said “I'm writing a film for you, you're a bad actor (laughs).” He's great at awkward comedy and physical comedy. I could trust him completely, his comedic timing and delivery is flawless. Without this it would have been a very awkwardly unfunny film. But seriously he loved the character of Charlie Bonnet, he was on board from the get go.

Tell me about your creative relationship with Eddie Baroo and Peter? Was the 'Charlie Bonnet' concept the result of many long afternoons together at the local?

I knew Eddie from a film shoot years ago. We met once, then reconnected on Facebook. I said, “Hey mate, wanna be in a comedy feature film?” He said, “Send me the script.” I did, and he loved it. After that, yeah, our first meeting was actually at a pub and we all got on like a house on fire. I've never a met a man like Eddie, such a genuine guy with an awesome sense of humour. You can meet him for 20 minutes and it’s like you've known each other for a life time and could trust him with your life. Also, Eddie co-wrote his sequence in the film with Pete and I. Without giving too much away, it definitely showcases Eddie's 'unique' sense of humour. But yeah, between Pete and I, lots of writing involved beer and late nights. We would send over script changes and ideas back and forth at 4 in the morning, it was great. The best writing is done between 12am and 4am. And on set between takes!  

Describe the production process on a low-budget film like this one. Was it the stop-start, day-by-day shooting schedule that is the norm with tightly-budgeted Aussie films?

The production process was simple: shoot when we can. If it was once a week we would, or maybe two days in a row. It was shot completely over a year; the largest gap of time we took was about 3 weeks between shoots. It was simply work around crew availability, locations and money - which came straight out of my back pocket (laughs). I was lucky to have access to specialty equipment through Brian Walker at Pro Cam Services - he helped with car mounts, jimmy-jibs, lighting you name it. I owe a lot to Brian, he's a really good man. (pictured, the director, at right, with DP Joel Frances on-set)

What does a Festival screening like the one you'll experience at Dungog mean for a film like Charlie Bonnet? From my experience, the James Theatre will be at capacity - around 650 patrons. How does that make you feel?

It means a lot. I mean we haven't even had a cast and crew screening yet. This is hot out of the edit suite! As I'm writing this we are outputting the file for Dungog. Having a packed house will be great, being a comedy I'm hoping for 90 minutes of infectious laughing! We can hope :) As far as how I feel? A little nervous, but quite confident. Outsiders who have seen the film so far have all given quite a positive response so it is encouraging. Ultimately though, we made Charlie Bonnet for the laughs. It's is a silly fun film and as long as people have a good time, a lot of laughs and walk out feeling good, we've done our job.



This morning's launch of the 2012 Dungog Film Festival program combined the three key elements that have inspired regular attendees to make the long haul to the rural mecca over the event’s 6 year history – Hunter region hospitality, Aussie films and beer.

From Newcastle’s iconic Honeysuckle Hotel, Festival Director Allanah Zisterman (pictured, below), co-founding member of the philanthropic industry initiative Cockatoo Institute with partner Stavros Kazantzidis, presented the line-up for this year’s event. Having long ago established must-attend status with industry-types, it is now also considered an annual tourism highlight with its inclusion on the NSW Events’ Master Calendar. 

The three-day festivities kick-off on June 29 with the Opening Night film, Peter Templeman’s Not Suitable for Children. The contemporary comedy-drama recently won over the notoriously hard-to-please city-folk as the kickstarter for the current Sydney Film Festival. Those in town early can catch a special pre-launch screening of Penny Vozniak’s Despite The Gods, the Australian director’s vivid account of the Indian film that veered wildly of the rails under the guidance of director Jennifer Lynch.

Though the partially retooled event is offering a slightly condensed range when compared to past incarnations, the non-competitive celebration of Australian film culture and storytelling is still brimming with fresh visions from the nation’s new wave of filmmaking talent. One of the most buzzed-about titles on the international midnight-movie festival circuit, Paul China’s Crawl, will screen in the coveted Saturday Night slot; the director and star Georgina Haig will be in attendance.

Other features to experience the communal love that the township’s James Theatre engenders will be John Duigan’s Careless Love and Stuart Stanton’s Charlie Bonnett, as well as longform documentaries Between Home, from director Jack Rath, and the World Premiere of Michael O’Neill’s Grammar of Happiness (pictured, left). Visitors and locals alike will be thrilled to see ‘The James’ open for business once again; the historically-significant site shuttered for a long period, unable to afford the digital upgrade required to show many first-run features in this modern age.

Our film-making culture has always featured prominently at past Dungog events and this year is no different. 2012 sees a rare screening of Michael Rymer’s Angel Baby, winner of 7 AFI Awards; attending will be star Jacqueline McKenzie, who will reflect upon the film and the career opportunities its success presented. Also enjoying a long-overdue re-emergence will be animation legend Yoram Gross’ classic Dot and The Kangaroo, which organisers will screen at the Dungog Public School for visitors and students alike.

A vast shorts program numbering an incredible 60 locally-made minis has been collated in a strand of thematically-linked sessions, amongst them the conflict-based ‘Did a Bad Bad Thing’, the scary ‘Paranormal Activity’ selection, the male-centric ‘A Man’s Gotta Do’ films  and three different student film sidebars. This year’s always-popular ‘In The Raw’ live script-reading will be of Andrea Rogers’ AWGIE-winning immigrant love-story Diving for Poland and will feature the voice talents of McKenzie, Ben O'Toole, Sophie Hensser and Anna Hruby.  



To help Harbour City filmgoers plan their Sydney Film Festival experience, SCREEN-SPACE is providing its inaugural FESTIVAL PLANNER - a day-by-day breakdown of the biggest movies, hidden gems and special events on offer. Bookmark this page and follow the links to reviews, interviews (including Festival director, Nashen Moodley) and the Festival website.

Hot ticket – Opening Night red carpet arrivals at the iconic State Theatre (pictured, above) for the World Premiere of Peter Templeman’s Not Suitable for Children, starring Ryan Kwanten.
Don’t Miss – Writer/director Keith Wright’s bizarrely original UK zombie-mockumentary, Harold’s Going Stiff.
First-run Reviews – Woody Allen: A Documentary; Whore’s Glory; Tatsumi.

Hot Ticket – Premiere of Rachel Perkins’ Mabo, an intimate portrayal of the political life of Eddie Mabo (Jimi Bani) and life-long love he shared with Bonita (Deborah Mailman).
Don’t Miss – Celebrity photographer Fabrizio Maltese at meeting venue The Hub, talking of his life shooting the stars at festivals all over the world; Matthew McConnaughey in William Friedkin’s redneck-noir thriller, Killing Joe; Paul Dano in the Sundance sensation, For Ellen.
First-run Reviews – Killing Anna; Vivan las Antipodas!

Hot Ticket – Australian premiere of Sundance winner Beasts of the Southern Wild at the State Theatre, followed by Wes Anderson’s star-studded coming-of-age story Moonrise Kingdom; both direct from Cannes 2012.
Don’t Miss – The second and final screening of iconic Italian directing brothers Paolo and Vittorio Taviani’s prison drama Caesar Must Die; two documentaries exploring the power of music to unite communities – Joe Berlinger’s Under African Skies and Polly Watkins’ Dr Samast’s Music School; the latest French horror sensation, Livid; Season of the Sun, Takumi Furukawa’s 1956 disenchanted youth drama, kicks off the centenary retrospective of Japanese studio giant, Nikkatsu.
First-run Reviews – Livid.

Hot Ticket - First screenings in the Bernardo Bertolucci retrospective, 1964s Before The Revolution and 1970s The Spiders Startegem, both at the downstairs auditorium in the Art Gallery of NSW.
Don’t Miss – Pietra Brettkelly’s New Zealand doco Maori Boy Genius, to be introduced by its subject, inspiring teen Ngaa Rauuira Pumanawawhiti; Woody Harrelson as a violent, corrupt cop in Rampart, reteaming him with The Messenger director Oren Moverman; Cate Shortland’s follow-up to Somersault, the Australian-German co-production Lore.
First-run Reviews – A Royal Affair; The British Guide to Showing Off; Despite The Gods.

Hot Ticket – The Australian premiere of Cannes-honoured Amour, from German iconoclast Michael Haneke.
Don’t Miss – Kirsten Stewart in Walter Salles’ adaptation of the Jack Kerouac novel, On The Road; Veteran documentarian Frederick Wiseman’s revealing documentary filmed inside Paris’ most famous gentlemen’s club, Crazy Horse; Lee Hirsch’s controversial documentary, Bully.
First-run Reviews – Captive; Beauty; Last Call at the Oasis; Excision.

Hot Ticket – Walt Disney Studio’s presentation of the latest animated adventure from Pixar, Brave, with co-star Billy Connolly and a host of Australian industry types walking the Red Carpet at Event’s George St Cinemas.
Don’t Miss – The 2012 Ian McPherson Memorial Lecture, during which leading critic David Stratton and Aussie acting great Bryan Brown chat about their careers and the Australian film industry; All 310 minutes of Bertolucci’s 1976 epic, 1900; the World Premiere of the Australian docu-drama, Coniston massacre, presented in traditional Warlpiri and Anmatyerre dialects.
First-run Reviews – The Warped Forest; Marley.

Hot Ticket – To coincide with the release of the ACS book Shadowcatchers, a Cinematographers Panel gathers together the artists who shot Mabo, South Solitary and Little Fish, along with author Martha Ansara, to examine the art and craft of capturing the film image.
Don’t Miss – South Korea’s Official Competition entrant, Yuen Sang-ho’s animated social drama The King of Pigs; the French police procedural drama, Polisse; Richard Bates Jr’s surreal splatter/melodrama Excision, featuring ex-porn queen Traci Lords and trash-king John Waters.

Hot Ticket – Berlinale Best Director winner Christian Petzold’s Barbara, a study in isolation and paranoia in a repressed society.
Don’t Miss – Pen-ek Ratanaruang reinterpretation of the hitman drama; Headshot; a free presentation of the best 40 years of shorts films from graduates of the Australian Film Television and Radio School (amongst them works by Jane Campion, Rowan Woods and PJ Hogan).
First-run Reviews – Postcards From The Zoo.

Hot Ticket – The Blackfellas Shorts Program features over 2 hours of short-films from indigenous filmmakers; screening free at The Hub from 5pm.
Don’t Miss – Marc Fennel and cohorts dissect modern movie marketing with their Hub presentation Coming Sooner: The Art of the Movie Trailer; vying for the feel-bad film of the year award, Rick Alverson’s ironically-titled US-indie, The Comedy; the World Premiere of Dead Europe, the adaptation Christos Tsiolkas’ book by Jewboy director Tony Krawitz.

Hot Ticket – The latest version of Wuthering Heights, from Fish Tank director Andrea Arnold, spins the classic on its head with a radical new interpretation.
Don’t Miss – Lea Pool’s cage-rattling Pink Ribbons Inc, an expose of the financial practices of the breast cancer charity group; globe-trotting Australian filmmaker Benjamin Gilmour looks at the trials and tribulations of being a first-response Paramedico, in his gripping doco; slice and dice in the third dimension with the legendary Takashi Miike’s Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai 3D.

Hot Ticket – The final film in the Nikkatsu retrospective, Stray Cat Rock: Sex Hunter, is an anti-everything shocker celebrating individual style, personal privileges and a f***-you stance against political correctness.
Don’t Miss – Keanu Reeves interviews Hollywood’s leading directors in Side by Side, his doco on the digital-vs-film revolution that is changing how films are made; Canadian auteur’s Philippe Falardeau’s Oscar-nominated classroom drama, Monsieur Lazhar; director Costa Botes introduces the heart-breaking The Last Dogs of Winter, a personal take on the working dogs of Canda’s frozen North. 

Hot Ticket – At a headline-grabbing 320 minutes, and presented in 2 parts at The State Theatre, Anurag Kashyup’s sprawling, vividly cinematic crime drama Gangs of Wasseypur will test the mettle of even the staunchest last-day audiences.
Don’t Miss – ....anything you’ve missed already! The last day of the Festival is your last chance to catch up on the most buzzed-about titles; Bertolucci’s sexually-frank 60’s set free-love tale, The Dreamers, with Eva Green; The Closing Night film, Colin Trevorrow’s hipster-cool romantic/fantasy/comedy Safety Not Guaranteed.

Having watched the world flash by in widescreen ratio for the best part of the last two weeks, SCREEN-SPACE feels qualified to cast a critical eye over the 59th Sydney Film Festival (also feeling drained, unfocussed and tired, but will push on....). The selection of Yorgos Lanthimos' Alps as the Official Prize winner was certainly unexpected, as most of those I shared the long lines with favoured Beasts of the Southern Wild, Caesar Must Die or Neighbouring Sounds to take out the honour. The 'Greek New Wave' is not for everyone's taste (Ex-SFF director Lynden Barber was a vocal hater of Lanthimos' film - one of two he walked out of during the Festival), but in the Jury President's Rachel Ward's view, "Alps is intelligent, uniquely emotive filmmaking from an important new voice in Greek cinema, a finely calibrated, absurdist study of power and identity." Perhaps...
In his first year as Artistic Director, Nashen Moodley scored big with his Opening and Closing Night choices; the rousing reception afforded Colin Trevorrow's Safety Not Guaranteed set the party-mood perfectly for the Festival's State Theatre curtain call. Some other programme choices were met with raised eyebrows - Walter Salles' On The Road divided opinion ("long and shit", was one audience members boisterous response when queried); in hindsight, the inclusion of Anurag Kashyap's ambitious but flawed epic Gangs of Wasseypur Parts 1 and 2 may have seemed indulgent (Moodley is an avowed expert on Indian cinema); few considered Tony Krawitz's Dead Europe a serious contender amongst the Competition films.
For SCREEN-SPACE, highlights included Matthew McConnaughey's performance in William Friedkin's Killer Joe; New Zealander Costa Botes' documentary The Last Dogs of Winter; and, Side by Side, an examination of the pros and cons of the film industry's digital conversion. We struggled with Umesh Vinayak's Kulkarni's The Temple, Shunchiro Miki's The Warped Forest and Maiwenn's Polisse. The dubious honour of being named the Festival's biggest duds included Paul Gallasch's hardsell-mockumentary Killing Anna (inexplicably awarded the Best Documentary prize) and pretentious French horror film Livid.
Organisers have confirmed year-to-year growth for the Sydney Film Festival. 122,000 patrons, an increase of 10% on 2011, and a 27% uptick in Flexipass sales suggest Sydney continues to value the worth of its annual celebration of film culture. With Melbourne International Film Festival boldly upping its press release announcements during the SFF fortnight, competition for the top honour of being considered Australia's premier film event is at an all-time high.