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Entries in Film Festival (8)

Wednesday
Feb062019

AUSTRALIAN FILMS UNITED AT 2019 MANCHESTER FILM FESTIVAL

Two features and a wave of short films will represent the Australian film sector at the 5th Manchester International Film Festival (MANIFF), launching March 2 at the Odeon Cinemas in the north-west metropolis’ iconic Great Northern Railway Warehouse centre.

Expanding to a week-long celebration for the first time in its history, MANIFF will host the U.K. premiere of Heath Davis’ bittersweet dramatic-comedy Book Week, which has benefitted from a strong grass-roots marketing campaign and independent release strategy in its homeland.

For Davis (pictured, right), the MANIFF acceptance of his little-film-that-could is deeply rewarding. “It’s wonderful,” he told SCREEN-SPACE. “It helps get your voice heard on an international platform and validates that what you’re creating resonates on a global level.” The two sessions of Book Week will see Davis return to Manchester for the first time since the festival screened his acclaimed drama Broke in 2016.

The festival will also host the first screenings in England’s north-west of Ben Hackworth’s opera drama Celeste, starring Radha Mitchell (pictured, top), which played the London Film Festival in October 2018. Australian talent also features in Jeff Vespa’s international co-production Paris Song, with actress Abbie Cornish (pictured, below) co-starring with Sanzhar Madiyev in the true story of Kazakh singer Amre Kashaubayev and his presence in an international singing competition at the 1925 Paris Expo. The Antipodes are further represented by New Zealander Dustin Feneley’s Stray, a potent romantic drama shot in the Otago region of the nation’s South Island.

In addition to the feature line-up, Australian short films have commandeered an impressive 12 slots in the program, including six U.K. premieres and one, Luke Wissel’s A Stone’s Throw, getting its first international exposure. It is a significant showing that Heath Davis says represents a burgeoning pool of Down Under filmmakers. “There’s a new wave of Aussie talent brewing and we want to create a brand where Australian films are sought after,” he says. “It’s starting to happen and this is an example of that.”

The vast richness displayed in the programming of the Australian content reflects the commitment of the festival to offer Manchester filmgoers breadth and depth of choice. In a press statement, Head of Programming Al Bailey says, “This year’s line-up is the perfect example of what we set out to achieve five years ago – a showcase of the most eclectic independent films from around the world and the strength of the selection shows the reputation that the festival has and continues to gain.” 

The short film roster includes:

Colony (Dir: Catherine Bonny; starring Emma Burnside, Alicia Hellingman, Ben Leyden; pictured, right) In the future two women struggle for survival as part of a work colony.

For Your Sins (Dir: Julian Lucas; starring Ryan Shelton, Dave Lawson, Michala Banas) A young man realises that everyone is sinning and seeks the help of a boutique communications agency to help raise awareness for his cause.

St. Bernie (Dir: Elise Tyson; starring Lara Robinson) Like any teenager, Bernie is curious about her developing body, sexuality and romantic interests but, denied any sex education in school or at home, Bernie feeds her curiosity in secret.

Solus (Dir: Adam Jamsek; starring Stephen Degenaro, Christopher Kirby, Tycho Richardson) A father and his chronically ill son go tracking into the heart of a forest in search for a magical healing bird.

Bridget and Iain (Dir: Leah Patterson; starring Vivienne Powell, Damian Sommerlad, Sala Baker) A loving mother struggles with her addict son and comes to realise that her actions maybe enabling his addiction.

Rooftops (Dir: Odeya Rush; starring Odeya Rush, Ryan Lee, Harry Nathan) The story of a boy in love, centered around the lyric "Rollin' like it's high school fantasy".

Skates (Dir: Maddelin McKenna; starring Renee Kypriotis, William McKenna, Corey Robert Hunt) New Year's Eve 1979; a young boy working at the local roller-skating rink forms a bond with a girl, skating alone.

A Stone’s Throw (Dir: Luke Wissel; starring Lily Pearl, Anna Steen, Patrick Graham) A rock thrown from an overpass sets in motion a series of crises that open emotional wounds for a middle-class family.

Behind Barres (Dir: Sophia Bender; starring Tizana Saunders , Damien Welch; pictured, right) A prisoner within her own body, ballerina Adelina is tortured by injury and begins to detach from reality in order to fight the physical pain and personal demons that torment her.

Cherry (Dir: Claudia Bailey, Vanessa Bray, Evie Friedrich) An anthology of stories that address virginity take an unflinching look into the awkward, perverse, intimate and sometimes embarrassing nature of sex.

Shooter (Dir: Andrew Carbone; starring Dugald Mullen, Clayton Watson, Mark Lee) Two boys dealing with the loss of their mother are faced with a father who is becoming increasingly unhinged in his grief.

Don’t Call Me Beautiful (Dir: Jill Robinson; Documentary) In 1965, at the age of 3 months, Zeitha Murphy was removed from the care of her Aboriginal mother, setting in motion years of emotional and physical abuse. Now, determined to create a better life for herself and her sons, Zeitha embarks on a journey to find her true place in society and her birth family.

The 2019 Manchester International Film Festival runs March 2-10. Full session and ticketing details can be found at the event’s official website.

Saturday
Jan192019

TEEN SCREEN TALENT SHINES AT 2019 NEXTWAVE AWARDS NIGHT 

Films tackling such weighty thematic elements as grief, alcoholism, kidnapping and disco have topped the winner’s list at the 2019 Nextwave Youth Film Awards. Hosted by local starlet Bonnie Ferguson (Book Week, 2018), the culmination of a year-long submissions process was held before a packed audience at the C.ex Coffs Auditorium in Coffs Harbour on Friday night. The student filmmaking strand of the Screenwave International Film Festival (SWIFF) welcomed a record number of submissions from over 50 school and community workshops held in 11 regions across rural New South Wales in 2018.

“It is fantastic to see so many people becoming engaged with it,” said Dave Horsley, SWIFF Festival Director and founder of the REC Ya Shorts Youth Film Festival, the popular student filmmaking competition that this year was rebranded and folded into Screenwave’s broader program. “Filmmaking is an activity that helps you make friends, cultivate relationships and all that good stuff which leads to positive mental health.” Nextwave is presented in conjunction with Headspace, a youth-focussed mental and emotional health care provider located in Coffs Harbour. (Pictured, below; Horsley and Screenwave Artistic Director Kate Howat attending a Nextwave/REC Ya Shorts workshop)

To qualify for the official competition, student filmmakers adhered to guidelines that stated their films must be no longer than six minutes, explore the theme of ‘Escape’ and include a ‘Sign’. Best Film winners were awarded in three age-specific categories – 12-14 years, 15-19 years and 20-25 years. Separate technical and creative categories were open to all age groups and were judged by a panel of industry professionals, including Alice Foulcher and Greg Erdstein, the creative team behind the 2017 comedy hit That’s Not Me.

The Best Film (12-14) went to Poe Black’s Kidnapped, a masterfully-paced black comedy about two young lads who don’t follow the ‘stranger danger’ creed yet emerge not only unscathed but also one-up on their would-be abductor. The Best Film (15-19) trophy was awarded to the remarkably accomplished 104 (pictured, top), a heartbreaking account of how living with an alcoholic parent impacts a young girl’s life; its director, Benjamin Bowles, also earned the Best Cinematography honour. The Best Film (20-25) award went to Willow Driver’s scifi-themed disco homage It’s Time to Dance, a loving ode to an era of music and fashion that ground to a halt three decades before the young filmmaker was born.

Though it was denied a Best Film award, Tallulah Rémond-Stephen’s We Are You, a stylish, dreamlike study of disenfranchisement, grief and confusion, was the night’s big winner, taking home three Nextwave honours. Lead actress and local girl Indigho Gray (pictured, below) took out the Best Actor award, earning herself a NIDA Acting Short Course, while Remond-Stephen earned both Best Director and Rising New Talent honours, an acknowledgement that comes with a one year Emerging Director Membership of the Australian Director’s Guild. The young Bellingen-based auteur is a REC Ya Shorts favourite, having earned top honours last year with her film Perdu, and in 2016 for The Inventor.

Director Benjamin McPhillips was also identified as an Emerging Talent honouree for his direction of the twin-sister drama, Prison Escape. Runners-up in the Acting category were Crystal Reichert, as the student caught living an exam day nightmare, in Jessica Burton’s Trials; and, Noah Mackie for his lovelorn graveyard worker in Skull, Jacob Shrimpton’s dark fantasy spin on the Cyrano de Bergerac tale. Shrimpton (pictured, below) had a good night, with his crowd-pleasing ‘watch-out-what-you-wish-for’ comedy Clone earning him Best Editor. Best Script went to David Smith for his confronting and personal examination of the euthanasia debate, Escape.          

A special Judges Commendation Award was bestowed upon Maeve Forest for her hilarious account of being trapped inside a bathroom during a wedding, entitled Water-loo: An Epic Battle for Freedom. Members of the judging panel recognised a unique voice and talent in nominating the director, whose film was in the youngest 12-14 category.

Also recognized on the night for their contribution to the Nextwave initiative were five regional high schools responsible for the most number of submissions in 2018/19 - Woolgoolga High School, Chatham High School, Oxley High School, Macksville High School, Nambucca Heads High School. Each of these schools had more than 5 students submit films, and helped them develop their talent and ambition through feedback, resources and time.

Nextwave was co-presented by SWIFF and Headspace Coffs Harbour and supported by Southern Cross University, Screen NSW, Arts Mid North Coast, C.ex Group, local Councils and the Regional Arts Fund. The winning films will be presented to regional communities in April as part of the 2019 National Youth Week celebrations.

Tuesday
Jan012019

LADIES IN BLACK LEAD OZ PACK AS QUEENS OF U.S. DESERT FEST 

Four diverse Australian works will feature at the 30th Palm Springs International Film Festival (PSIFF), which launches January 3 in California’s upmarket desert enclave on the western edge of the Coachella Valley. Key amongst them is veteran filmmaker Bruce Beresford’s local hit Ladies in Black, which has been honoured as the Closing Night film of the 12-day program. Set to screen 223 films from 78 countries, organisers are predicting close to 140,000 attendees for the anniversary celebrations of one of America’s most respected and relaxed festival events.

The story of the strong-willed retail saleswomen at the forefront of social change in Sydney circa 1959, Ladies in Black was a critical and commercial hit domestically, earning AU$12.5million at the Australian/New Zealand box office and scoring four AACTA Awards, including Best Actress for starlet Angourie Rice. Yet to open in other key global markets, the North American premiere at PSIFF is a strong indication of the potential for the film to play with audiences beyond these shores (pictured, above; from left, Celia Massingham, Rice and Rachel Taylor).

Also enjoying a moment in the Californian film festival sun will be Benjamin Gilmour’s Jirga, screening as part of the festival’s Foreign Film Oscar Submission strand. The AACTA-winning drama follows a former Australian soldier’s return to Afghanistan, where he seeks forgiveness from the family of a civilian man he killed while serving in the war. Writer/director Gilmour, star Sam Smith (pictured, right) and a skeleton crew shot the film guerilla-style in some of Afghanistan’s most dangerous regions, the result being a film of rare emotion, tension and beauty; it had its World Premiere in Toronto to critical acclaim. It is Australia’s official Foreign Film Oscar contender, with large sections of the film in Pashto dialect.

Certain to amp up the party atmosphere will be a retrospective screening of Baz Luhrmann’s breakout 1992 blockbuster Strictly Ballroom. The film, which earned a staggering AU$80million global box office during its initial release, has been slotted into a strand called ‘The Palm Springs Canon’, a celebration of the best of the PSIFF's first 30 years. Luhrmann’s crowd-pleaser will play alongside 32 other established classics, including Ang Lee’s Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (2000), Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Double Life of Veronique (1991), Giuseppe Tornatore’s Cinema Paradiso (1988), Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s Amelie (2001) and Christopher Nolan’s Memento (2000).

Rounding out the Antipodean contingent is Jeffery Walker’s Riot, the made-for-television account of the gay activists whose fight to decriminalize homosexuality in mid-70s Sydney led to the birth of the now iconic Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras. Starring Damon Herriman (soon to feature as Charles Manson in Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time in Hollywood), the small-screen movie aired to a national audience via the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in June before earning Herriman (pictured, right; with co-star Xavier Samuels) and co-star Kate Box AACTA Awards last month for their lead performances. It will screen in the PSIFF strand ‘Queer Cinema Today & The Gay!LA’ alongside such festival favourites as Wanuri Kahiu’s lesbian-themed Kenyan film Rafiki and Austrian filmmaker Katharina Mueckstein’s L’Animale, one of the films vying for the festival’s New Voices/New Visions Grand Jury Prize.

The four Australian films will be seen by many of Hollywood’s major players, with studio and agency representatives attending alongside the likes of actors Timothée Chalamet, Glenn Close, Richard E. Grant, Melissa McCarthy and Rami Malek; and, directors Ryan Coogler, Spike Lee, Ali Abbasi, Emilio Estevez and Alfonso Cuarón.

The Palm Springs International Film Festival will launch on January 3 with the Opening Night film, Kenneth Branagh’s All is True, with the festivities concluding January 13 with Ladies in Black; both will screen at Richards Center for the Arts at Palm Springs High School followed by a reception at the Hilton Hotel complex.

Thursday
Nov292018

SIX AUSTRALIAN FILMS ANNOUNCED IN SUNDANCE 2019 ROSTER

The year ahead for Australian cinema gets off to a heartening start with six local features selected for the 2019 Sundance Film Festival. The line-up boasts the star power of Oscar winners Hilary Swank and Lupita Nyong’o; locally bred stars Damon Herriman, Mia Wasikowska and Rose Byrne; and includes new features from director Wayne Blair (The Sapphires, 2012), Sophie Hyde (52 Tuesdays, 2013), Abe Forsythe (Down Under, 2016) and Jennifer Kent (The Babadook, 2014). In a statement released in the wake of the announcement, Screen Australia CEO Graeme Mason lauded, "the incredible slate of premieres", noting that " all the films revolve around central female characters, and half of the films are directed by women, a milestone for the Australian industry. Change is coming – slowly, but surely.” The high-altitude mecca for the indie film sector runs January 24 to February 3.


WORLD CINEMA DRAMATIC COMPETITION

Judy & Punch (Director/Writer: Mirrah Foulkes, Cast: Mia Wasikowska, Damon Herriman, Tom Budge, Benedict Hardie, Lucy Velik, Terry Norris.) In the anarchic town of Seaside, nowhere near the sea, puppeteers Judy and Punch are trying to resurrect their marionette show. The show is a hit due to Judy’s superior puppeteering but Punch’s driving ambition and penchant for whisky lead to a inevitable tragedy that Judy must avenge. Debut feature director Mirrah Foulkes stated via the Screen Australia site, "[The] festival has been formative to the careers of many of my peers. It's an absolute privilege to be premiering my first feature there.” (Pictured, top; Mia Wasikowska in Judy & Punch. Photo: Ben King)

PREMIERES

Animals (Director: Sophie Hyde, Screenwriter: Emma Jane Unsworth, Cast: Holliday Grainger, Alia Shawkat; pictured, above). After a decade of partying, Laura and Tyler’s friendship is strained by Laura’s new love and her focus on her novel. A snapshot of a modern woman with competing desires, at once a celebration of female friendship and an examination of the choices we make when facing a crossroads. Hyde took home the Sundance Directing Award: World Cinema Dramatic for 52 Tuesdays in 2014 (Animals is an Irish/Australian co-production; Photo: Bernard Walsh)

I Am Mother (Director: Grant Sputore, Screenwriter: Michael Lloyd Green, Cast: Clara Rugaard, Rose Byrne, Hilary Swank.) In the wake of humanity’s extinction, a teenage girl is raised by a robot designed to repopulate the earth. But their unique bond is threatened when an inexplicable stranger arrives with alarming news (Pictured, above; Hilary Swank in I am Mother)

Top End Wedding (Director: Wayne Blair, Screenwriters: Joshua Tyler, Miranda Tapsell, Cast: Miranda Tapsell, Gwilym Lee, Kerry Fox, Huw Higginson, Ursula Yovich, Shari Sebbens.) Lauren and Ned are engaged, they are in love, and they have just ten days to find Lauren’s mother who has gone AWOL somewhere in the remote far north of Australia, reunite her parents and pull off their dream wedding. Miranda Tapsell (pictured, above) said via press release, "As a co-writer, producer and actor in this film, it's been a labour of love for me and having the opportunity to showcase the Northern Territory to an international audience, through a different lens, at such a prestigious festival, makes this such a rewarding experience."

MIDNIGHT

Little Monsters (Director /Writer: Abe Forsythe, Cast: Lupita Nyong’o, Alexander England, Josh Gad.) A film dedicated to all the kindergarten teachers who motivate children to learn, instill them with confidence and stop them from being devoured by zombies. Via the Screen Australia website, Forsythe declared, "I’m so happy that everyone’s work will be premiered at a festival I’ve always dreamed of attending. (Pictured, above; Lupita Nyong'o as Miss Caroline)

SPOTLIGHT

The Nightingale (Director/Writer: Jennifer Kent, Cast: Aisling Franciosi, Sam Claflin, Baykali Ganambarr, Damon Herriman, Harry Greenwood, Ewen Leslie) 1825. Clare, a young Irish convict-woman, chases a British officer through the Tasmanian wilderness, bent on revenge for a terrible act of violence he committed against her family. On the way she enlists the services of Aboriginal tracker Billy, who is marked by trauma from his own violence-filled past. (Pictured, above; Aisling Franciosi as Clare)

Sunday
Apr162017

SUNTANNED CINEPHILES SET TO FEAST ON GOLD COAST FILM FEST.

Its very mention once conjured images of a hedonistic mecca peopled by meter maids and partying teens, but Queensland’s Gold Coast tourist strip has more recently re-emerged as a film lover’s paradise. Central to this cultural growth is Festival Director Lucy Fisher and her team at the Gold Coast Film Festival (GCFF), who celebrate 15 years as the region’s premiere movie-going event, a crucial conduit between local and international filmmakers and the Sunshine State’s cinephiles…

“2017 is about a shift in a new direction,” says Fisher, who has worked our interview into a frantic schedule ahead of the April 19 launch of the 2017 event. “It is about bringing films to life in a distinctly Gold Coast way for local and visiting audiences and to help grow and support Queensland’s screen industry.” From humble beginnings in 2002 when it launched as a genre-based fan event, the scale of this year’s 12-day celebration now reflects both the vast, stunning geography of Australia’s north-east and the richness of its film culture.

“The festival has really found its feet in the last three years,” says Fisher (pictured, left). “For general cinemagoers, we play a social role, affording them a chance to meet and bond over shared film experiences, discovering new films or films that would normally only release in Sydney and Melbourne.” Kicking off with the New Zealand hit comedy Pork Pie from director Matt Murphy, patrons with a penchant for global cinema are spoilt for choice with works from Finland (Juho Kuosmanen’s Cannes sensation The Happiest Day in the Life of Olli Maki), The U.K. (Terence Davies’ A Quiet Passion; Jason Connery’s Tommy’s Honour); The U.S.A. (Maggie Greenwald’s Sophie and The Rising Sun; James Ponsoldt’s The Circle); Egypt (Mohamed Diab’s Clash); Indonesia (Kimo Stamboel and Timo Tjahjanto’s Headshot); Chile (Pablo Larrain’s Neruda); France (Rebecca Zlotowski’s Planetarium); and, Kenya (Mbithi Masaya’a Kati Kati).

The Festival’s major sponsor is the state’s funding and production overseer Screen Queensland who, under the energised stewardship of CEO Tracey Vieira, has seen the region attract big-ticket productions like Kong Skull Island, Thor Ragnarok, The Shallows, San Andreas and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. In an inspired piece of off-site programming, the GCFF is offering a 3-hour bus tour of these locations, with accompanying AV content to enhance the experience.

The Screen Queensland collaboration and the role it plays in fostering talent and production activity is taken very seriously by Fisher, who states, “For the local industry, we develop future film professionals through screen culture and screen education, (including) dedicated screenings, career forums and workshops for high-school students. For film industry audiences, we provide professional development through Q&As, panels and workshops.” In 2017, these events come under the ‘ReelLife’ banner and include sessions on film criticism, chaired by FilmInk editor Dov Kornits; the intricacies of film production, hosted by industry veterans Sue Maslin and Jan Chapman; understanding the audition process with actress Claudia Karvan; sound design and composition with Oscar winner David White; and, working with animals on-screen, chaired by director Simon Wincer (Phar Lap; Free Willy).

Australian productions in the 2017 programme include four World Premieres – Dee McLachlan’s supernatural thriller Out of The Shadows; Josh Hale’s gamer mockumentary Digital Athletes: The Road to Seat League; Jude Kalman’s uplifting documentary Uncontained Love: Love > Fear; and, Enzo Tedeschi’s gripping socio-political thriller, Event Zero, which will close the festival on April 30. Other local filmmakers represented include James Bogle, with his bio-doc Whitely; Douglas Watkin and his indigenous ballet doco Ella; Michael Jones, with Lazybones; Romi Trower, presenting her debut What If It Works?, with Luke Ford; Shane Abbess, with his sci-fi spectacle Science Fiction Vol 1: The Osiris Child (pictured, above; stars Isabel Lucas and Daniel McPherson); and, Gerald Rascionato, whose shark-attack found-footage thriller Cage Dive should play well to the beachgoing locals.

Fisher is fully aware of the importance of a placement in a festival line-up can represent to the young filmmakers of Australia. “We seek out Australian films that haven’t had any screen agency funding. These are the go-getters, the hustlers, the deal-makers,” she says. “To make a film on a credit card budget or find funding for a couple of hundred grand is incredible. The discovery and support of independent filmmaking talent is one of our distinctive points of difference.”

Perhaps the most crucial point of difference is Lucy Fisher’s commitment to gender equality in her festival’s programming. Her selections are all rated utilising the Bechdel Test, an industry standard that determines a film’s gender bias based upon a) whether it has at least two women characters, who b) talk to each other about c) something other than a man. Says Fisher, “We rated all films by the Bechdel Test first in 2016 and have again in 2017 to highlight how women are being written for screen.” Her determination to strengthen the profile of women in the film industry also extends to the festival podiums. “The bigger, older film festivals still won’t even register that they might have an event that has a man introducing a man guest, moderated by a man, thanked by a man,” she states. “We commit to at least 50% women speakers, which sounds deceptively simple.  But when Australia produces only 23% of films with women writers and 16% with women directors, that’s something we have to deliberately consider in our speaker and programming choices.”

Fittingly, the recipient of the 2017 GCFF Chauvel Award for career achievement and artistic integrity is actress Deborah Mailman, who will participate in an extensive interview with past winner David Stratton at the event’s host venue, The Arts Centre Gold Coast.

The Gold Coast Film Festival runs April 19-30. Ticket and session information is available at the official website here.

Friday
Feb242017

FEMALE EMPOWERMENT DRAMA DENIED RELEASE BY INDIAN CENSORS

India’s hardline censorship body, The Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), has refused to classify Alankrita Shrivastava’s female empowerment drama, Lipstick Under My Burkha. The decision effectively denies a theatrical release of the Hindi film in its homeland, pending severe edits by the filmmaker or appellate court action by the distributor.

Starring Konkona Sensharma, Ratna Pathak Shah and Plabita Borthakur (pictured, above), the pro-feminist comedy/drama focuses on four women in a small Indian town who each seek a small degree of personal freedom in their daily lives. It played to acclaim on the 2016 festival circuit, earning the Spirit Asia Award at the Tokyo Film Festival and a Best Film on Gender Equality prize at the Mumbai Film Festival.

In a letter to producer Prakash Jha (subsequently posted on the film's social media platforms), The CBFC stated, “The story is lady oriented, their fantasy above life. There are contanious sexual scenes, abusive words, audio pornography and a bit sensitive touch about one particular section of society, hence film refused (sic).”

The body cited violations of a number of guidelines to which submitted films must adhere, including: vulgarity, obscenity or depravity; scenes degrading or denigrating women; sexual violence against women; sexual perversions; and visuals or words contemptuous of racial, religious or other groups.

Speaking to the press ahead of the U.K. premiere at the Glasgow Film Festival, Shrivastava (pictured, right) was defiant in the face of the ruling. “I will battle this out and do whatever it takes to ensure that audiences in India can watch the film,” she said. “I believe the decision to refuse certification is an assault on women’s rights. For too long the popular narrative has perpetuated patriarchy by objectifying women or minimising their role in a narrative.”

Shrivastava was adamant that the traditional gender bias endemic to Indian culture was a factor in the decision. “A film like Lipstick Under My Burkha, that challenges that dominant narrative, is being attacked because it presents a female point of view. Do women not have the right of freedom of expression?,” she demanded. “India is so steeped in its discrimination against women, it becomes evident in such decisions. In a country where there is so much violence against women, and such double standards for women, rather than encourage women’s stories told by women themselves, our stories are stifled.”

In a positive review published in November 2016 following the Tokyo Film Festival screening, trade paper The Hollywood Reporter pre-empted the controversy, stating, “one wonders how the Hindi-language film will be received locally and whether its frankness will be cause for scandal.”

Like many of his contemporaries, Prakash Jha (pictured, right) has clashed with The CBFC in the past. His 2016 film Jai Gangaajal, starring India’s biggest international movie star Priyanka Chopra, was denied CBFC classification before being cleared by the next level of industry bureaucracy, the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal. Hollywood has also felt the sting of CBFC disapproval, with Barry Jenkin’s Oscar nominated Moonlight having scenes of same-sex affection, swear words and heterosexual lovemaking excised before classification was allowed; in 2012, David Fincher denied Indian audiences a theatrical release of The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo when he refused to make extensive CBFC-sanctioned edits.

 

Wednesday
Jun182014

REFLECTIONS ON REVELATIONS: AN ORAL HISTORY

They are the men whose shared visions create the most eclectic and challenging collection of cinema on the Australian film festival calendar. Chairman Richard Sowada who, fuelled by the spirit of the now defunct Revelations magazine and its founder Peter Collins, launched a series of 16mm film screenings at Perth’s iconic jazz venue, The Greenwich, in 1997; program director Jack Sargeant, author and academic on all matters counter-culture and underground, has acted as in-house agitant and revolutionary spirit since 2008. So who better to answer the question, “What have been the defining moments in the 17 year history of Revelation Perth International Film Festival?”, than the men behind the madness...?

“Each year is new and each choice is filled with experimentation and a roll of the dice.” - Richard Sowada, Founder and Chairman (pictured, right).

The Banning of Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist: This appeared in Rev '98. It was passed for screening by the Office of Film and Literature Classification, but the ruling was overturned by the local West Australian office. It made print and TV news around the country and taught us how some arms of government and the media work. A challenging experience, for us and the community. We learnt that as far as politics goes, the issue is never about the issue and that our 'editorial stand' was a strong one, which is something that's never really changed. Aside from that, it was lots of fun. It got unbanned, by the way.

Viola Dana playing The General: In 2009, local outfit Viola Dana played the score to Buster Keaton's silent classic The General. I cried...it was so beautiful and received a standing ovation. The real thing. It was a true moment where the power of cinema crossed generations. It was one of those things you hope has a real impact on people who may not ever expect that kind of tenderness from a silent film.

 

Going on Tour: In the first two years of the event, we went touring to Sydney and Adelaide. While a great thing to do, it made us realise that that the idea behind the event can't be transferred. It reinforced that the event is not about films necessarily but the ideal behind what we were trying to do. To manage something like this, you need to have the right state of mind - and in a very conservative film exhibition environment, very few people have that. So we keep it in WA. 

The First International Guest: In our second year, a young Japanese experimental filmmaker named Hideo Oshima came over. He flew himself over for his first time ever in Australia. He'd never seen a beach and he spent his whole time with his shoes off walking on Cottesloe Beach, feeling the sand between his toes. It had a real impact on him. When he came over, I thought we were on our way and now we have over 60 guests.

Every Year…: Rev is such an enormous challenge. In all ways we do things like no other event. It's more than a festival - it's a Union for artists and audiences. The event is a point of advocacy for both, that challenges the difficulties in having a community voice. (We address) funding, distribution and exhibition difficulties and the mentoring (of) new practitioners in every sector of the industry.


“(All) the filmmakers who enter seek to push the medium and I think that it is indicative of the limitless potentials of cinema to stimulate imagination.” - Jack Sargeant, Program Director (pictured, right).

Joe Davis Dancing in the Bar: Davis is an incredible thinker, philosopher, scientist and prankster, who was over to introduce a screening of the film Heaven and Earth and Joe Davis which documented part of his life. This is a fascinating movie about a genuinely unique figure, and having him in town was great. Joe hit it off with everyone and opened people's eyes to many things. We have been blessed with many enjoyable guests, and to me that is still a really special part of the festival.

Crispin Glover screening What Is It? and It Is Fine! Everything Is Fine: These are powerful, visionary movies and to watch them was an incredible experience. Not only did he screen his films, he also performed both parts of his Big Slide Show (one part each night, prior to the films) which was a magical and unique dramatic narration of his beautiful books. An incredibly dedicated individual, he answered questions from the audience and then met audience members individually to sign books and talk to people. 

 

Lawrence English performing a live soundtrack to Harry Smith's Early Abstractions: This was at my first Revelation, and I had commissioned Lawrence to write a new soundtrack to this series of experimental animated films. Of course, his soundtrack was as beautiful and visionary as you would imagine, and people loved seeing the films and listening to the music.  

Revel8: Our annual screening of super 8 movies. Anyone can enter; there have been submissions from experimental filmmakers, students, friends, artists, and jokers over the years. There's a real pleasure in the possibilities inherent in this event. The films may be experimental, visionary, irreverent, entertaining or infuriating, but they are always unique and made with a kind of wild enthusiastic passion. I'd like to think that the potentialities of Revel 8 movies reflect something of the potentialities of all the films we screen at the festival.  

The Revelation Bar: There's a lot of hanging out at Revelation after movies, and one of the key aspects is that everyone is welcome. The bar becomes the de facto centre of the festival with filmmakers, guests, artists, musicians, audience members and academics just talking and discussing ideas. You can see fruitful exchanges taking place, friendships being forged and a real air of enjoyment, which makes the whole thing very special. (pictured, right; Sowada, left, and Sargeant flank revellers at a recent Revelation social event)

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival will run July 3-13 in several venues in and around Perth, Western Australia. For full program details and tickets, visit the official website here.

Wednesday
Jul242013

TORONTO WELCOMES FOUR OF OUR FINEST

Four Australian features have been selected to screen at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF), one of the most prestigious gatherings on the international calendar.

Amongst the 37 world premieres that will unspool between September 5 and 15 are fresh works from filmmakers Paul Haggis (Third Person), Bertrand Tavernier (Quai d’Orsay), Dennis Villeneuve (Prisoners), Jean-Marc Vallee (Dallas Buyers Club), Jason Reitman (Labor Day) and Richard Ayaobe (The Double). Opening the event will be Bill Condon’s Wikileaks expose The Fifth Estate, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Julian Assange; closing out the fest is Daniel Schecter’s Life of Crime, an adaptation of Elmore Leonard’s The Switch and starring Jennifer Aniston, John Hawkes and Tim Robbins.

Joining the list of world firsts will be Matthew Saville’s Felony, his long-awaited second feature after the success of 2007’s Noise; and Jonathan Teplitzky’s UK/Australian co-production, The Railway Man (pictured, right).

Just as Noise examined a police officer struggling with reality, so too does Felony, which tells of a decorated cop who covers up the fatal consequence of his night on the drink. Backed by two of Australia’s most high-profile production outfits in Goalpost Pictures (The Sapphires) and Blue Tongue Films (The Square), Saville has corralled a top-notch cast that will ensure TIFF buzz is high – on-the-cusp Hollywood star Jai Courtney (Jack Reacher; A Good Day to Die Hard), Joel Edgerton (doubling up as screenwriter) and Melissa George.

Teplitzky’s The Railway Man is the director’s first international effort, after well-received local films Burning Man, Getting’ Square and Better Than Sex. Starring Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman, it recounts the true story of Eric Lomax and his quest to find the Japanese officer who tortured him while he was a World War 2 POW.

John Curran’s Tracks (pictured, top), already announced as the Opening Night engagement for this year’s Adelaide Film Festival, will have its North American premiere in Toronto. The screening will represent the beginning of the final stages of the film’s marathon chronology; the project, which tells the real-life story of a young woman (played by Mia Wasikowska) who travails the West Australian desert on camel, was in pre-production 20 years ago with Julia Roberts attached to star.

And Ivan Sen’s Mystery Road, which had its world premiere as the opener for the Sydney Film Festival in June, has secured its first offshore slot ahead of its mid-August national release on local screens.