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Entries in Film Festival (31)

Saturday
Dec082018

PREVIEW: 2019 SCREENWAVE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL

The strengthening of Coffs Harbour as a thriving film culture hub continues on January 10 when the 2019 Screenwave International Film Festival (SWIFF) rolls out the sandy red carpet. One of New South Wales’ most prestigious yet relaxed screening events, SWIFF has crafted a rigorously challenging roster, both artistically and intellectually, with bold new works from such fearless filmmakers as Lars Von Trier, Michael Moore, Lynne Ramsay and Gaspar Noé.

The two-pronged festival directing team of Dave Horsley and Kate Howat signal this year’s direction from Opening Night, with the hot-button social satire Terror Nullius kicking off the 16-day festival. A coarse, canny and brutally funny skewering of racism, patriarchy and social injustice, it is the work of Melbourne creative team Soda Jerk (pictured, below; Soda Jerk's Dan and Dominique Angeloro) who employ montage technique to rework classic Australian film scenes into fresh contemporary commentary. Closing Night honours have been bestowed upon Julian Schnabel’s At Eternity’s Gate, featuring a Golden Globe nominated Willem Dafoe as painter Vincent van Gogh.

The 2019 program statistics are impressive -60 films from 20 countries, including 14 Australian works and 30 films from women directors. Female identity and gender politics are addressed in the strand ‘Women of Action’, which highlights five films shot through the lens of women filmmakers. These include ¡Las Sandanistas!, documentarian Jenny Murray’s account of Nicaraguan warrior women; Stephanie Wang-Breal’s Blowin’ Up, an insider’s perspective of the lawyers fighting for the rights of sex workers in America’s broken justice system; and, Maysaloun Hamoud’s In Between, an Israeli-French co-production examining the clash of old and new cultures for three Palestinian women.

The vast World Cinema line-up fully justifies SWIFF’s standing on the international festival circuit, with 21 films set to unspool. Arriving uncut after inspiring shocked walkouts at its Cannes screening is Lars Von Trier’s serial killer saga, The House That Jack Built; bad boy Gaspar Noé captures a drug-addled descent into dance-party hell in Climax (pictured, top); and, the enigmatic Lynne Ramsay explores the nature of violence with leading man Joaquin Phoenix in her hitman thriller, You Were Never Really Here.

Some of the most acclaimed films from our global region will screen in World Cinema, with Ana Urushadze’s Scary Mother (Georgia/Estonia), Hirokazu Koreeda’s Palme d’Or winner Shoplifters (Japan) and Nadine Labaki’s Capernaum (Lebanon) all earning kudos from the Asia Pacific Screen Academy’s award body. Other countries represented include The Netherlands (Lukas Dhont’s Cannes FIPRESCI prize winner, Girl); Kenya (Wanuri Kahiu’s Rafiki; pictured, right); Bulgaria (Milko lazarov’s Aga); and, Poland (Spoor, from the directing team of Agnieszka Holland and Kasia Adamik).

Of course, Australian filmmakers are at the fore with strands covering fiction and non-fiction features. Heath Davis’ crowd-pleaser Book Week, Jason Raftopoulos’ father/son drama West of Sunshine starring the late Damian Hill, and Ted Wilson’s Tassie-set drama Under The Cover of Cloud are set to screen. The documentary sector will be represented by such acclaimed works as Ben Lawrence’s riveting Ghosthunter, Gabrielle Brady’s heartbreaking Island of The Hungry Ghosts, and Ben Randall’s teen-girl trafficking expose, Sisters For Sale, as well as the World Premiere of local filmmaker Ian Thompson’s Becoming Colleen.

International factual films will be presented under the banner ‘Pop Docs’, including Fahrenheit 11/9, the latest from political agitator Michael Moore, and Daniel J Clark’s flat-earther think piece, Behind the Curve. Mixing up fact and fiction will be the always popular ‘Music and The Makers’ line-up, which this year features Brett Haley’s feel-good hit Hearts Beat Loud, with Nick Offerman; Mantangi/Maya/M.I.A, Stephen Loveridge’s fly-on-the-wall coverage of the controversial UK rap sensation; and, Stephen Schible’s mesmerizing profile on the great Ryuichi Sakamoto, Coda.

SWIFF understand the breadth of its local audience and has ensured upmarket film festival types and the North Coast cool kids will be able to connect through the program. The surf film strand ‘Call of The Surf’ features the latest in ocean-themed cinema, including the late Rob Stewart’s final shark industry exposé Sharkwater Extinction and The Zimbalist Brothers profile of the Hawaiian surfing ‘new wave’ of the 1990s, Momentum Generation (pictured, right). And the amusingly-titled skater line-up, ‘Make America Skate Again’, will present three films including Bing Lui’s universally acclaimed Minding the Gap, a look at three friends who bond over their boards in America’s rust belt interior.

Two retrospective special presentations will delight cinema purists. The Coen Brothers’ cult classic O Brother, Where Art Thou? will screen accompanied by live music supplied by renowned local musos The Mid North Damn; and, in honour of the 130th birthday of the late master of cinema Charlie Chaplin, SWIFF with screen his timeless political satire The Great Dictator.

Indicative of the festival’s commitment to regional cinema and support of young filmmakers, SWIFF will screen the work of the 20 finalists in the Nextwave youth filmmaking contest. A year-long statewide high-school and community initiative which has seen 50 workshops held in 11 New South Wales’ regions will culminate with the award ceremony on January 18 at the C.ex Coffs Auditorium, where $40,000 prize money will be distributed amongst the next generation of Australian filmmaking talent. (Pictured, right; SWIFF festival director Dave Horsley)

Read the SCREEN-SPACE interview with Scary Mother director Ana Urushadze and star Nato Murvandze here.

Read the SCREEN-SPACE review of Book Week here.

The 2019 Screenwave International Film Festival will run January 10-25 at two locations, The Jetty Memorial Theatre in Coffs Harbour and the Bellingen Memorial Hall. Full session and ticket information can be found at the official SWIFF website.

Wednesday
Oct312018

PREVIEW: 2018 VETERANS FILM FESTIVAL

Since its 2015 launch as a short film screening series on the hallowed grounds of the Australian War Memorial, the Veterans Film Festival has grown into a feature-film event with strong ties across the military community. In 2018, Festival Director Tom Papas welcomes mental health advocates Beyond Blue and weapons manufacturer CEA Technolgies into VFF alliances, alongside principal partner RSL National and supporters The Australian Defence Force and The Military Shop.

On Thursday November 1, the 4th annual festival launches in the national capital, Canberra, honouring the 100th anniversary of the end of The Great War with five features that encompass the breadth of experience that our service men and women undertake to ensure our freedoms… 

JOURNEY’S END (Directed by Saul Dibb; Written by R. C. Sherriff and Simon Reade; U.K.; 107 mins) OPENING NIGHT
Plot: March, 1918. C-company arrives in the front-line trenches of northern France led by the war-weary Captain Stanhope (Sam Claflin). A German offensive is imminent, and the officers (Paul Bettany, Stephen Graham, Tom Sturridge) distract themselves in their dugout with talk of their lives back home as Stanhope unable to deal with his dread of the inevitable, soaks his fear in whiskey. A new officer, Raleigh (Asa Butterfield), has just arrived, fresh out of training and abuzz with the excitement of his first real posting.
What the critics say…: “Claflin projects pain and heartbreak, and surgically excises Stanhope’s defenses through the film’s third act…a deeply felt catalogue of the behaviors of men who know they’re about to die.” – Chris Packham, The Village Voice.

TRANSMILITARY (Directed by Gabe Silverman and Fiona Dawson;
Written by Jamie Coughlin and Gabe Silverman; USA; 93 mins)
Plot: Chronicles the lives of four individuals - Senior Airman Logan Ireland, Corporal Laila Villanueva, Captain Jennifer Peace and First Lieutenant El Cook – committed to defending their country’s freedom while also fighting for their own. The four put their careers and livelihoods on the line by coming out as transgender to top brass officials in the Pentagon, determined to attain equal right to serve. The had the ban lifted in 2016, the group now face an administration trying to reinstate it; their futures hang in the balance, again.
What the critics say…: “[A] persuasive plea for tolerance in an arena where, it seems, the most destructive bigotry is coming from outside.” – John DeFore, The Hollywood Reporter

SPITFIRE (Directed by David Fairhead and Ant Palmer; U.K.; 99 mins)
Plot: Credited with changing the course of world history, this is the story of the Spitfire – told in the words of the last-surviving combat veterans. With stunning aerial footage from the world’s top aviation photographer, the film also contains rare, digitally re-mastered, archive footage from the tumultuous days of the 1940’s when her power in the skies was unrivalled.
What the critics say…: “The film succeeds in making you understand how these young men saved the country from enemy occupation and how desperately close it was…every one tells a fascinating, often gripping, story.” – Angus Wolfe Murray, Eye For Film.

SGT STUBBY: AN UNLIKELY HERO (Directed by Richard Lanni; Written by Ricahrd Lanni and Mike Stokey; USA; 84 mins)
Plot: With the war to end all wars looming, young army upstart Robert Conroy has his life forever changed when a little dog with a stubby tail wanders into camp of the 102nd Infantry Regiment. Soon, Stubby the dog and his human companions find themselves in the trenches of France and on the path to history. Undertaking an epic journey through harsh conditions and incredible acts of courage. For his valorous actions, Stubby is recognized as the first canine ever promoted to the rank of Sergeant in U.S. Army history.
What the critics say…: “This may be the first cartoon in history designed for this particular overlap of audiences: military buffs and the very, very young.” – Ben Kenigsberg, The New York Times

ANNA’S WAR (Directed by Aleksey Fedorchenko; Written by Aleksey Fedorchenko and Nataliya Meshchaninova; USSR; 74 mins) CLOSING NIGHT
Plot: Soviet Union, 1941: a Jewish girl regains consciousness under a layer of black earth. Anna is six years old and hides herself in the disused fireplace of the Nazi commandant’s office. From there, she views the war and life passing by, with the threat of discovery constant. Her ingenuity, the items left behind by the slowly alternating visitors and the treasures she discovers in the adjacent rooms help her survive.
What the critics say…: “A remarkable central performance from a six-year-old child carries pretty much the entirety of this nail-biting tale of wartime survival. Marta Kozlova is quietly devastating…The child’s eye view brings a fantastical and sometimes bizarre quality to this lean, urgent story of resourcefulness born of desperation.” – Wendy Ide, Screen Daily.

The 2018 VETERANS FILM FESTIVAL screens November 1-3 at Canberra's Capitol Theatre (An Event Cinemas venue). Full festival schedule and tickets can be found at the events official website.

Sunday
Oct212018

PROSPECT, REFLECTIONS IN THE DUST EARN TOP SCIFI FILM FEST HONOURS.

The SciFi Film Festival has named Prospect the 2018 Best Film winner at an informal ceremony on the Closing Night of the 4-day event in Sydney. Set for a November 2 launch in the U.S. but still awaiting a distribution deal in Australia, Christopher Caldwell’s and Zeek Earl’s retro-futuristic thriller/coming-of-age drama also earned the Best Actress trophy for star Sophie Thatcher, the teenage actress headlining her first feature.

Jury member Jonathan Ogilvie, who adjudicated alongside fellow filmmakers Julietta Boscolo and Brian Trenchard-Smith on the three-person festival jury, praised Prospect for the homage it paid to the great westerns of Hollywood’s heyday. “[It is] a tense and involving space film that mines the same vein of greed and betrayal that the earthbound The Treasure of Sierra Madre did so many years ago,” he noted, adding, “Sophie Thatcher is terrific in the lead role.” (Pictured, below; Sophie Thatcher in Prospect)

The Best Actor honour was awarded to Australian character actor Robin Queree for his frightening and fierce performance as ‘The Clown’ in Luke Sullivan’s divisive dystopian drama, Reflections in the Dust, opposite Best Actress nominee Sarah Houbolt. “Wow, this is heavy,” said the actor, referring to the weighty crystal trophy but also clearly surprised and moved by the honour. Addressing his young director, 23 year-old Luke Sullivan, Queree declared, “This all belongs to us. Me, you, Sarah, the cast, everybody was fantastic.”   

Hector Valdez’ blackly-funny time-travel romp Peaches led the Best Music/Sound category, with composer Fran Villalba and sound designer David Mantecón set to share the award. The Best Visual Effects honour, one of the most prized categories at an event celebrating the fantastical, went to U.K. filmmaker Daniel Prince for his short Invaders, a delightfully mischievous spin on ‘alien invasion’ mythology that wore its Spielberg-ian influences proudly on its sleeve. (Pictured, below; Robin Queree, in Reflections in the Dust) 

Tasked with choosing two standouts from the vast short film line-up at the festival, jury members singled out Lebanese filmmaker Fadi Baki Fdz’s steampunk-influenced automaton fable Manivelle: The Last Days of The Man of Tomorrow for the Best International Short. Young Victorian filmmakers Shane Gardam and Xavier Brydges took Best Australian Short for Westall, a recounting of this country’s most well documented yet eternally mysterious UFO encounters. 

In the wake of a particularly strong field of performances by actresses across the 2018 screening schedule, program director Simon Foster created a special Festival Director’s Award for French actress Zoe Garcia for her lead role in Charlotte Cayeux’s short Those Who Can Die. “There were several great acting turns by women in this year’s films, contributions that reflect a strength that has always been central to the best that this genre has to offer,” he said, citing Sarah Houbolt (Reflections in the Dust), Maria Guinea (Peaches) and Kestrel Leah (the short Andromeda) as some of the festival’s other highlights. “Ms Garcia’s performance was one of forceful yet dignified resistance in the face of oppression, which is both timely and timeless,” he said.

The 5th annual celebration of local and international speculative film fiction entertained an enthusiastic and committed audience sector, despite squally Harbour City thunderstorms that kept the inner-city hordes huddled indoors at key moments on the schedule. The Closing Night feature, a retro-themed screening of 1989’s Miracle Mile, was introduced by director Steve de Jarnatt in a spot pre-recorded especially for the event at the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, one of the key locations from the film. (Pictured, above; Zoe Garcia from Those Who Can Die)

Saturday
Oct202018

PROSPECT TRIO SET TO SOAR IN WAKE OF SCI-FI SAGA

Variety described Prospect as the film that, “the stand alone ‘Star Wars’ films should feel like.” A vast and thrilling vision of a distant world, populated by rich, fully realized characters, the feature film debut of writer/directors Christopher Caldwell and Zeek Earl is shaping as the American indie discovery of 2018. Much of the buzz is thanks to lead actress Sophie Thatcher, the 17 year-old Chicagoan who brings to life ‘Cee’, a teenager forced to grow up very quickly when marooned and paired with scoundrel Ezra (Narcos star Pedro Pascal). Ahead of the film’s Australian Premiere at the SciFi Film Festival in Sydney, SCREEN-SPACE spoke with the trio via a three-way phone hook-up (Sophie in L.A.; Christopher and Zeek in Seattle) that brought the friends back in touch for the first time since their triumphant World Premiere at SXSW…

SCREEN-SPACE: How did the relationship building start on Prospect? Sophie, when did you first get a sense of what Zeek and Chris were looking for in their protagonist? And guys, what questions about the character of Cee did Sophie answer for you both?

SOPHIE: I met with them via FaceTime, and we discussed at length Cee’s character and her backstory. I was immediately drawn in by her place in the otherworldly aspects of the Prospect universe. It felt full and unique, rich in detail, and Cee’s trajectory through the universe was really interesting. She started off as more reserved and timid and just tagging along with Damon (Jay Duplass), but when she is forced to start a partnership with Ezra she begins to stand up for herself, speak her mind. I admired that very much and took very seriously the positive message that sent out to young girls.

CHRISTOPHER: A lot of what we saw in Sophie came down to a gut feeling about her. This was our first time casting for a feature film and we did a widespread search for the role. It came down to a lot of intangibles, frankly. One of the real challenges of the role is that it’s a fairly quiet role, a lot of her trajectory happens internally and wasn’t exactly all there on the page. Sophie had to bring to life so much of Cee non-verbally. We could sense the chemistry over the course of our interactions until she emerged head-and-shoulders above anyone else for the role. (Pictured, right; co-directors Zeek Earl and Chris Caldwell with their SXSW Adam Yauch Award)

ZEEK: And this was a really hard movie to make. Physically arduous, the costumes were uncomfortable, a lot of on-location work. It was 40 solid shooting days during which our lead had to be in every scene essentially, so we also had to find someone who we were convinced could handle that. Turned out Sophie was, like, the most professional person on set.

SOPHIE: Oh, right (laughs). The first week was the most difficult, because we were still trying to figure out how the visors worked, and how the helmets worked. And I was already anxious about this being my first feature film, so those visors, ugh, and not being able to breathe properly (laughs). But that also became an acting tool; once I put that helmet on, I was Cee.

SCREEN-SPACE: Crafting and nurturing the complexity and chemistry of the relationship between Pedro Pascal’s Ezra and Cee is one of the film’s great triumphs. How did that take shape?

SOPHIE: It’s an interesting connection they develop, with Ezra serving as kind of a ‘broken father’ figure who ultimately lets Cee open up and form a strange bond with him. It helped to go through a similar process with Pedro while filming and actually get closer to him. And it worked the other way, too, with Cee’s determination and grit softening Ezra, which happened as Pedro and I worked together over some long days. Pedro and I really connected, from the very first time we spoke, because he’s such a warm person in general. (Pictured, above; Pedro Pascal as Ezra)

CHRISTOPHER: All credit to the actors as far as chemistry is concerned. It is something that came together so much better than even we imagined. Ezra is such a different character to Cee, it is a very odd paring on paper so the chemistry came out of the nuances that Pedro and Sophie brought to the table.

SCREEN-SPACE: A lot of press coverage for the film is focussing in on its roots in the classic American western narrative. What came first – your love of sci-fi or your love of westerns?

ZEEK: Honestly, it’s a hand-in-hand thing. The aesthetic was always very sci-fi, the two of us having grown up on Star Wars and Alien and Blade Runner, and we always wanted to make a world that was a little more gritty and retro-futuristic in that way. Thematically, though, the starting point was in a western kind of headspace. It is a low budget film and we designed it knowing much of the shoot would be out on location in a rainforest and much of it was conceived from the perspective of what you can do with a small group of actors in a frontier environment. And those types of stories naturally go very ‘western’. (Pictured, above; Pedro Pascal as Ezra, and Sophie Thatcher as Cee.)

CHRISTOPHER: What we were setting out to do was this very particular ‘frontier sci-fi’ and the western flavour emerged from that. When you have these blue-collar types, risking their lives to make a living out in the wilderness, the western tonal influence was inevitable.

SCREEN-SPACE: Roles such as ‘Cee’ are few and far between for young actresses. Hailee Steinfeld in The Coen’s True Grit or Natalie Portman in Luc Beeson’s The Professional come to mind, but there are not a lot of examples from which you can draw comparisons or inspiration… 

SOPHIE: Well, both of those parts were absolutely great inspirations. Also, the independence that Jennifer Lawrence displayed in Winter’s Bone inspired me. But, you’re right, there aren’t that many roles out there other than the ones you named, which were perfect.

CHRISTOPHER: I remembered we talked about some of the Miyazaki protagonists as well…

SOPHIE: Yes!

CHRISTOPHER: …from Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away, which have these strong female lead characters. I don’t think there was ever really a direct reference, but I grew up on those movies and there is definitely something of their DNA ingrained into Prospect. I think tonally they are probably closer than True Grit or The Professional, although we certainly did draw on those as well.

SCREEN-SPACE: Your film’s other great asset is the intricacy of the world-building. Who had the experience to help pull of this degree of conceptualising?

ZEEK: Well, no one in the film had the correct background for doing this kind of thing (laughs). We had been running a commercial production company in Seattle for a few years and got to know a lot of people who knew how to do those things, so we formed a sort of art collective. The guy who built the spaceship came from a background building bikes, and we had friends with experience in home carpentry who helped out. We had an ex-Boeing engineer, and a guy who wanted to get out of the firearms industry come design and build our fake guns. We had the budget of a small, indie horror movie and we wanted to create a huge Star Wars-like universe. We didn’t have the option of going through the conventional industry channels, so we made our own production design shop. It was funny when producers who had a lot more experience would show up on our set, they were blown away by how much more detail there was than on other, bigger sets. I’m guessing a lot of that grew out of our amateurism, where we thought, ‘Well, we don’t know what’s going to be on camera so lets just make everything!’ (laughs) But that made for a totally immersive experience for everyone, I guess, which must have helped. (Pictured, above; Sophie Thatcher, as Cee)

CHRISTOPHER: We wanted to have a very utilitarian look for everything. This piecemeal production design team really complimented that aesthetic intention, in that it wasn’t industry types coming with a lot of experience making props, but it was industrial designers and graphic designers coming from experience making functional products who were open to left-field ideas.

PROSPECT will have its AUSTRALIAN PREMIERE at the SciFi Film Festival at Event Cinemas George St Sydney on October 20 at 6.00pm. Full ticket and session details here.

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.