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Entries in Australian (18)

Monday
Jul022018

FIVE MUST-SEE AUSTRALIAN SHORTS AT THE MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL

The best film festival programs should prove daunting at first glance, be that in terms of the sheer number of films or the challenging themes and narratives they offer. The subset of Australian documentary short films on offer at the 2018 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival is itself breathtaking in scale, so we thought it best to drill down on a relatively random five that you should try to see out of the many great local efforts on offer…

BUT HONEY, YOU LOOK FINE
Strand: Sports Docs / Aussie Shorts
Screening: Tuesday, July 10 from 7.00pm at LOOP
Synopsis: A young filmmaker documents her closest friend Gabby's struggle with bulimia, from the earliest signs of the disease through to its life-threatening nadir, using footage they recorded together over the course of their friendship (pictured, above; Gabby Bennett).
From the filmmaker: “Unfortunately, this story is more common than it is rare. And it turns out the forces against us had been at work since before we even realised it. So we figured, in order to get better, we need to unpack what’s going on inside already, and figure out where it all came from. Was it innate within us or thrust upon us?” – Jennifer Leonforte, Director (official website)

DRUMMER GIRL
Strand: Short Sessions 1
Screening: Sunday July 8 from 12.00 at Howler
Synopsis: Renee Kelly is a prodigious rock drummer, who's also completely blind. Moving between past reflections and future dreams, Renee's story reveals a passionate and determined artist, set to a bold musical score.
From the filmmaker: “We first came across Renee a few years ago, and we knew instantly we wanted to tell her story in a short-film format. An exceptionally gifted, humble and determined musician who’s been playing the drums since age three, Renee is also profoundly blind, with no access to image or light. We wanted the audience to feel a real intimacy with Renee and for her music to be heard. We wanted her story to be told and to convey a feeling of her experience of the world and her place within it.” – Poppy Walker, Producer (read the full interview at Screen NSW)

 

WOLFE
Strand: Short Sessions 2
Screening: Tuesday, July 8 from 3.00pm at Howler
Synopsis: Unlike most kids, Nick had an imaginary friend he could really hear. His voice sounded gruff and old, and no one else could hear him. Mister Wolfe became Nick's constant companion, but before long a darker side emerged. Featuring animated scenes and a candid interview with the now 24-year-old Nick, the film portrays a collage of his psyche. Winner of the Berlinale Crystal Bear award for Best Short Film in the Generation14plus category
From the filmmakers: “My goal was to present a film about mental illness from the perception of the person experiencing it. I used a very personal story, so for it to resonate with audiences around the world is amazing.” – Claire Randall, Director (courtesy, Griffith University)

ACT OF TRANSLATION
Strand: Sports Docs / Aussie Shorts
Screening: Tuesday, July 10 from 7.00pm at LOOP
Synopsis: "Which story do you want to hear? The one I tell my parents…or the one I tell my friends?” Twenty international students are propelled out of their comfort zones through theatre workshops and performances. By learning to tell their real stories they challenge and transform the narrative about Melbourne’s international student community (pictured, right; students featured in Act of Translation)
From the filmmaker: “We were unsure what the outcome would be, or if students would even show up. I knew I was in for a shooting ratio that would be a killer in the edit, filming conditions that would be in less-than-desirable neon-lit humming air conditioned spaces...but also some golden and transformative moments.” – Irene Metter, Director (read the full interview at We Are Moving Stories)

TURN IT UP! FINDING SYDNEY’S SOUND
Strand: Closing Night Rock Docs
Screening: Saturday July 14 from 7.00pm at Backlot Cinemas
Synopsis: The live music scene in Sydney has seen some amazing artists get their break and establish successful careers. Sadly, venues have been closing across the city, and the culture has been irrevocably altered. So what does the live music scene in Sydney look like today, where do artists go to perform, or is the Sydney scene dead?
From the filmmaker: “We want to break the narrative that Sydney is a dead town. The more noise we can make about it, and the more people we can get supporting live music and going to gigs, the better.” Samantha Holder, Co-director (read the full interview at We Are Moving Stories)

The 2018 MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL runs July 6-14 at various venues around Melbourne. Check the official website for ticketing and session information.

 

Thursday
Jun072018

PREVIEW: 2018 MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL

The celebration of a passionate man dedicated to a life in the service of cinema seems entirely appropriate as the Opening Night offering at the 2018 Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. The eclectic 9-day programme of long- and short-form factual films have been collated by a devoted curation team under founder and festival boss Lyndon Stone, whose time and energy in bringing the latest from the documentary field to Victorian audiences will be rewarded when the latest incarnation launches July 6.

First night honours go to Filmworker, director Tony Zierra’s profile of the enigmatic Leon Vitali, the bohemian Brit who chose to forego a career in front of the camera and dedicate his life to being right hand man and ultimately gaurdian for the great Stanley Kubrick. Offering profound insight into a man so drawn into the maddening genius of Kubrick’s vision that he altered his own destiny to serve the director, Filmworker has been embraced by critics (“A brisk, compelling movie that’s pure candy for Kubrick buffs,” said Variety) and promises to energise audiences.

Zierra’s crowdpleaser will screen under the banner ‘Film Buff’ with two films that also address that heady mix of destiny and talent – Anjelica Huston on James Joyce: A Shout on The Street, the actress’ recollections of the author’s career (Huston, pictured, right, starred for her father John in the Joyce adaptation, The Dead); and I am Famous, a melancholy look at the post-Back to The Future life of Thomas Wilson, aka trilogy bully Biff Tannen.

The 2018 program reflects the vast field of vision that documentaries afford the conscientious moviegoer. Over 60 films will screen, including two world premieres and ten Australian premieres, across six venues. In addition to ‘Film Buff’, there will be twelve themed strands (including two dedicated short-film and Melbourne-centric sessions). These include such banners as ‘Australian Art’ (which includes Black Anzac, director Tim Anastasi’s coverage of the creation of a mural by artist Hego depicting an Aboriginal WW1 soldier); ‘Geopolitics’ (featuring Timothy George Kelly’s EU-exit takedown, Brexitannia); ‘Social Justice’ (read our review for Dawn Mikkelson’s Risking Light here); ‘Animal/Environmental’ (with one for the musophobics from Chris Metzler called Rodents of Unusual Size); and, 'EDM Docs' (with Glen J. Scrymgour’s dance-party culture-clash study, Decks and The City).

Closing out the event will be the ‘Rock Docs’ strand, a collection of three films geared towards building momentum heading into the after-party. New Zealand filmmaker Julian Boshier will be in attendance to front the screening of his feature Swagger of Thieves, a behind-the-scenes account of struggling bandmates determined to overcome their own shortcomings and find a successful music sector niche. It will screen with Adam Farks’ The Music Stops Here, which addresses how gentrification and over-development can kill off musical culture; and, Samantha Holder and Nathan Richman’s Turn It Up!, a then-and-now study of the Sydney live music.

In addition to Boshier, several filmmakers will brave the chilly Southern capital in support of their works, with masterclasses and Q&A panels on the agenda. Those attending include Jackie Ochs, whose exposé Out of My Head reveals the shocking facts behind that crippling modern ailment, the migraine; Thor Neureiter, whose investigative piece Disaster Capitalism uncovers profiteering practices in the global aid network; and local lads David Elliott-Jones and Lachlan McLeod (pictured, right), the minds behind the wildly entertaining ‘viral fame’ experiment, Big in Japan.

Also scheduled is a presentation by people-powered exhibition outfit FanForce on the benefits and processes on self-distribution, an increasingly potent avenue by which documentarians can get their films seen by a broader audiences. 

2018 MELBOURNE DOCUMENTARY FILM FESTIVAL runs July 6-14 at verious venues across the city. For ticket sales and session details, visit the official website.

SCREEN-SPACE is a media partner of the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. Editor Simon Foster will be hosting Q&A events throughout the festival as a guest of the organisers.

Saturday
Apr282018

HEALTHY PLANET DOCS TO SCREEN AMONGST SERENE OZ SCENERY

The advocacy documentary movement thrives through the passion and determination of people like Kevin and Lowanna Doye. The planet-conscious proprietors of a wholefoods superstore in the picturesque northern New South Wales township of Bellingen will launch the Kombu Food Film Festival on May 12, a single-day presentation of four environmentally-themed factual films that the parents-of-four hope will inspire their audience to build a healthier, happier future for all our children.

“Watching films, particularly informative documentary films, in a collective environment is really powerful,” says Brit expat Kevin, who established Kombu Wholefoods in 2004, having relocated with his Australian wife from the U.K. to Sydney in 2002 before heading to the Bellingen hinterland. “It can be a trigger for generating real change and feeling reassured that there’s a community of people who feel the same way on some of these issues.”

Fighting the good fight on behalf of the planet is an ongoing commitment for the Doyes (pictured, right; at home, with their children). Their journey from Oxford to Sydney took the road less travelled, for example; over 18 months, Lowanna and Kevin peddled the Bike2Oz challenge, riding 12,000 kilometres across Europe and Asia to negate the carbon footprint that air travel would have rendered upon the Earth.

The key objective of the Kombu Food Film Festival is to spotlight like-minded people from around the world who are committed to positive change in the generation and responsible harvesting of our food supply. “We’ve selected films that offer solutions,” says Kevin. “They reveal what some of the problems are, but they’re also highlighting discussion points from which we can move forwards.”

The 2018 line-up of films includes:

Living The Change: Inspiring Stories for a Sustainable Future (Dirs: Antoinette Wilson and Jordan Osmond, pictured right; 85mins, Australia/New Zealand). The latest work from the film collective Happen Films, Living The Change explores solutions to contemporary global crises through the stories of people pioneering change towards a sustainable and regenerative way of life (official website).

Unbroken Ground (Dir: Chris Malloy; 26 mins, U.S.A.). Unbroken Ground examines how food can and should be a part of the solution to the environmental crisis – grown, harvested and produced in ways that restore our land, water and wildlife. Profiled are four groups pioneering such practices as regenerative agriculture and grazing, diversified crop development and restorative fishing (official website).

A Simpler Way: Crisis as Opportunity (Dir: Jordan Osmond; 78 mins, Australia). Follows an Australian community who responded to the global crises through the implementation of simple living practices. Throughout the year, the group build tiny houses, plant community gardens, employ ‘simple living’ techniques and define and overcome the challenges of communal living (official website).

Seed: The Untold Story (Dirs: Jon Betz and Taggart Siegel; 94 mins, U.S.A.). In the last century, 94% of seed varieties have disappeared. From the activist film group Collective Eye Films and featuring such high profile voices as Jane Goddall and Vandana Shiva, Seed reveals the challenging and heartening story of passionate seed keepers as they wage a David and Goliath battle against chemical seed companies, defending a 12,000 year food legacy. Executive produced by Oscar winner Marisa Tomei (official website).

The Kombu Food Film Festival screens May 12 at the Bellingen Memorial Hall from 1.00pm. Entry is free; a gold coin donation is appreciated. All proceeds will be donated to the Kombu Community Garden, Bellingen. Event information can be found at the official website.

Tuesday
Mar202018

KANGAROO A LOVE/HATE STORY: THE KATE MCINTYRE-CLERE INTERVIEW

The directing team of Kate McIntyre-Clere and her husband Michael have travelled the world with their searing expose Kangaroo A Love/Hate Story, a challenging documentary that examines Australia’s complex, often exploitative relationship with its national icon, the kangaroo. The film has drawn protests from culling industry advocates, who are determined to expand import markets and don’t need footage revealing a multi-million dollar industry steeped in misinformation and cruelty. With their film now in Australian cinemas, SCREEN-SPACE spoke to Kate McIntyre-Clere about some of the hotbed issues raised in her fearless film (WARNING: Some content is of a graphic nature)…

SCREEN-SPACE: When did you and Michael become aware of the breadth of issues faced by the kangaroo population?

McINTYRE-CLERE: We set out to explore the wonder of this magnificent and unique animal. We knew opinion was split and that would make an interesting story but once we started the research and interviews we were surprised to learn that millions of kangaroos are shot each year and sold for profit. It seemed incongruous to us that Australians, who are immensely proud to hold up the kangaroo as their beloved national symbol, would sanction their nightly killing, with so little interest in questioning what is going on.

SCREEN-SPACE: There would be a global outcry if your footage - killing of young animals, often still on the teat; killing of breeding females - impacted any other form of wildlife. Why are those in power largely turning a blind eye in the case of the kangaroo?

McINTYRE-CLERE: That is the question the Australian public need to be asking their government: to come clean about all the permitted killing of kangaroos that is happening across the country. We think Australians do not know that killing kangaroos is the largest terrestrial wildlife kill on the planet. Or that kangaroos are killed and eviscerated in the bush and carried on the back of open trucks through the dusty tracks for hours until refrigeration. Most Australians do not know how cruelly the baby joeys are treated, or how many kangaroos are mis-shot and left to die from horrific injuries. We believe Australians will be shocked to hear how their beloved national emblem is being sold for pet food, sausages and soccer boots. It’s time they did hear. We have found from making the film that the government and civil society has let the kangaroo down. (Pictured, above: Kate McIntyre-Clere)

SCREEN-SPACE: Was there ever a concern that some of the content might just be too much for your average viewer?

McINTYRE-CLERE: Every shot was discussed fully. We decided that the audience needed to witness what is happening to kangaroos. Much of the footage has been stylised, leaving the audience with an impression rather than the gruesome details. We left many more violent images out of the film.

SCREEN-SPACE: Have you been surprised by the coverage from some mainstream media? Several outlets have sided with the industry and sought to discredit the claims you present.

McINTYRE-CLERE: It is a much more balanced film than some press have stated, but it seems to have hit a sensitive nerve. We worked to get a cross section of voices, including politicians, scientists, farmers, shooters, kangaroo industry leaders and indigenous Australians. If the audience doubts the treatment of kangaroos or if people have strong opinions, we recommend they see the film to learn more and make up their own minds. There is very little open discussion in mainstream media of the population (levels), hygiene or cruelty surrounding our misuse of our wildlife.

SCREEN-SPACE: How are US audiences, who perhaps see the kangaroo as a more mythical, iconic creature, reacting to the film?

McINTYRE-CLERE: The film was very well received and got rave reviews from the press including The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and Variety. The US audiences were shocked to learn how Australians treat their national icon. They have no idea that kangaroos are killed, often treated as pests instead of the wildlife they are and exported for pet food, human consumption and leather goods. Some states have very strict laws about the importation of wildlife so there was concern about this at government levels.

SCREEN-SPACE: Disregard for our iconic wildlife is not without precedent – koalas only exist is pockets of population due to deforestation. What action needs to be taken to ensure the best outcome for the kangaroo population?

McINTYRE-CLERE: Interestingly, the kangaroo is similar to the koala in its low slow breeding capacity, and kangaroo’s woodland and shrub land habitat has also been cleared since colonisation. We want Australians to be interested in the treatment and future of the kangaroos. We want them to notice when kangaroos are no longer in areas and be more critical and knowledgeable. We hope to initiate a robust, transparent, national conversation that brings together all concerned scientists, indigenous people, land owners, politicians, animal activists, citizens and give the kangaroo the respect it deserves as our national icon that has lived on this continent for 25 million years. (Pictured, above: Kate and husband/co-director, Mike McIntyre, with their star) 

SCREEN-SPACE: What might be the worst outcome?

McINTYRE-CLERE: Australia already has the highest loss of biodiversity in the world after Indonesia, and the highest rate of terrestrial mammal extinctions in the last few hundred years. Kangaroos are slow-growing, have low fecundity and high juvenile mortality.  Their habitat continues to be cleared and environment damaged, and industrial-scale killing has only got more efficient and organised since colonisation. When people see a mob of kangaroos in a video or image and don’t notice the rest of the landscape is completely empty, then perhaps that is the disturbing answer to this question. As filmmakers, we think the worst possible outcome is we sit on our hands and don’t do anything.

KANGAROO A LOVE/HATE STORY is in Australian cinemas now.

Sunday
Oct012017

PREVIEW: 2017 SCIFI FILM FESTIVAL

Such otherworldly phenomena as trans-dimensional portals, parallel planes of existence and dystopian future realms are the least one should expect from an event like SciFi Film Festival, which launches its 5th season on October 11 in Sydney. That such potent narrative elements are tackled in the Opening Night film alone suggests festival director Tom Papas has crafted a five-day event of immensely ambitious genre programming.

The 12-session celebration of global science fiction filmmaking launches with the Australian premiere of The Gateway, fresh from a triumphant Revolution Film Festival showing in Austin, Texas, where it nabbed four trophies, including Best Picture and Best Director for John V. Soto (Needle, 2010; The Reckoning, 2014). Genre favourite Jacqueline McKenzie (Deep Blue Sea, 1999; The 4400, 2004-07; pictured, above) gives a star turn as particle physicist Jane Chandler, whose grief at losing her husband Matt (Myles Pollard) blinds her to the dangers of blurring multiple realities.

The Gateway welcomes in nine new international features, including works from North America, The U.K. and Europe. Guy-Roger Duvert directs the U.S./French co-production Virtual Revolution, a near-future thriller in which society functions entirely online and cyber-terrorism has become the ultimate threat; director Andy Mitton’s We Go On stars Clark Freeman as a man so terrified that his existence is meaningless he offers a fortune for proof of an afterlife, only to have the truth reveal a terrifying secret; and, from British director Matt Mitchell, a wildly imaginative supernatural period piece called The Rizen (pictured, right), that takes as its starting point the Allied Forces post-WWII experiments in the power of black magic.

U.S. director Terrance M. Young will be present for a QA session following the Saturday 14th screening of his dramatic thriller, Project Eden: Vol. 1 (a sequel is already slated for a 2018 shoot). Michael O’Shea’s urban vampire shocker, The Transfiguration (read the SCREEN-SPACE interview with the director here) screens following its breakout hit status at the 2016 Cannes Film Festival. The U.K. sector rounds out the 2017 festival slate - Hendrik Faller’s grueling alpine siege thriller, Mountain Fever (a co-production with France); Keir Burrow’s noirish sci-fi spin on the Alice in Wonderland story, called Anti Matter; and, earning Closing Night honours, Roger Armstrong’s blackly funny Sublimate, a found-footage/mockumentary spin on misguided ambition and blind obsession involving the transcendence of the human soul via aural experimentation.

A short film will precede each feature, a traditional programming policy that acknowledges that many of the most ambitious science-fiction works currently produced are from directors working in short form narratives. On October 12, a full slate of international short films will showcase the film sectors of Japan (Yoshimi Itazu’s Pigtails; Philippe McKie’s Breaker); France (J.L. Wolfenstein’s Departure); Finland (Juha Fiilin’s Job Interview); The U.S.A. (Miguel Ortega’s The Nungyo); Germany (Alexander Dannhauser’s Kaska); and, of course, Australia, which is represented by five cutting-edge visions - Scott Geersen’s Signal/Void; Samuel Lucas Allen’s Only the Beautiful; Sarah Rackemann’s One Small Step (pictured, right); Radheya Jegatheva’s Journey; and, Evan Hughes’ Hell of a Day.

The SciFi Film Festival is also honouring two classics of the genre with retrospective screening events. Starring the late Harry Dean Stanton opposite punk brat Emilio Estevez, Alex Cox’s Repo Man remains one of cinema’s most idiosyncratic visions; it returns to the screen on October 12 amidst a wave of nostalgia, both for Stanton’s body of work and the free-form inventiveness of the best of 80s movie culture. Then, on October 13, the 4k digitally restored 40th anniversary edition of Nicholas Roeg’s existential sci-fi masterpiece The Man Who Fell to Earth, starring David Bowie, will screen. Both films speak to the core values of the festival, which has always sought out auteristic works characterised by thoughtful, humanistic protagonists and ambitious scope.

THE SCIFI FILM FESTIVAL screens October 11-15 at the Event Cinemas George Street complex. Full session and ticketing information can be found at the festival’s official website.

SCREEN-SPACE editor Simon Foster will host Q&A events with The Gateway director John V. Soto (October 11) and Project Eden: Vol. 1 director Terrance M. Young (October 14).