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BBFF – Post #4 – Young Australian Filmmakers

11 Mar

toombaworth lucie

 

I felt so incredibly honoured to be part of this program of young filmmakers with my very short short film ‘Glare’. I have been a little pessimistic of late about the future of the Australian film industry. After watching these shorts I am now incredibly excited. The direction, cinematography and writing was at an incredibly high standard, so high that it was quite astounding that every one of these directors were under the age of 25, one being only 17.

‘You Can Be Here’ was directed by Daniel Whelan. It is set in Byron Bay itself, where the director grew up. The film is about a young woman who is packing her bags to leave her hometown to move to London. It perfectly evokes that pre-trip panic, where suddenly the place you couldn’t wait to get away from seems like the most beautiful place the world could offer.

Nick Waterman’s ‘From Here’ is the tender story of a young man calling his dying grandmother to say goodbye. I have a lot of respect for someone who can make a film set in one room, with just one person on screen compelling and this film does that beautifully.

Jordan Wippell made ‘Rain Dog’ when he was in year 12, but you would never guess. There was a lot of things I liked about this new-noir film about boxing and redemption. Stylistically it looked brilliant, using silhouettes and cross-fades beautifully. Jordan told me later that he’d shot it on a handycam, but he must be a After Effects genius becouse you would never have known it. I also loved the way this story unfolded. Starting out as a typical redemption story, but avoiding a moralistic ending in a way that was unexpected and honest.

‘Hummingbirds’ directed by Hayley McFarlene is the story of best friends and escape. It reminded so much of one of my favourite books: ‘My Summer of Love’. I love stories about the intensity of young female friendships and this one did it well, particularly in it’s jump from the girls as children and then as teenagers. I could really see this evolving into a feature film and I hope that’s what Hayley has in mind.

The winner of Byron Bay’s Young Australian Filmmaker was Lucie McKendrick with ‘Toombaworth’ (pictured), and she definately deserved it. In her own words: “Toombaworth tells the story of Tayla, her mate Maggie and the drugs and society that rob them of a childhood”. Cole Dorothy’s acting is impeccable in this film, along with all her co-stars. One of the reasons I think the film works so well is because it was written by a person not much older than her protagonists and their voices feel authentic. Even though these young women find themselves in pretty dire circumstances, we see both the light and the dark of there lives and McKendrick allows their humour to shine through.

This truly was a brilliant night of shorts and I am looking forward to seeing what comes next for all of these incredible filmmakers.

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BBFF – Post #3 – Electrick Children

9 Mar

 

Still undecided about this one. I think perhaps the trailer is better than the film.

BBFF – Post #2 – Little Scout We Are Walking Out, Monk: Reloaded, Boxer, Aquadettes

8 Mar

boxer james finlay

Watched some exceptional shorts in session #24 today! My absolute stand out favourite though was Boxer by 22 year old James Finlay. This four minute film depicts a young female boxer who, wary of her tough facade, dances with her punching bag rather than hitting it. The films simplicity was so refreshing. I felt like I could feel the texture of the bag by the way her hand softly slides along it. The editing was impeccable, the film begins with flashes of a harsh black and white workout and turns into a warm sunlit slow experience. I hope this goes up on vimeo or comes to Melbourne sometime soon so I can see it again!

All the films were about physicality and movement. I find myself drawn to these themes in short filmmaking too, in fact my first ever short film had a dance sequence in the middle of it for no real reason at all (needless to stay that film has never left my laptop). ‘Little Scout – We Are Walking Out’, was a brilliantly shot film about a ballet dancer who dances in the woods as the sun goes down. ‘Monk: Reloaded’ also used dance, but within a light installation that responds to the movement of the dancer. Both of these films show the dancer getting more and more confident as they let themselves go to physicallity. In a time when things often feel over-thought, watching this physical release is a great experience.

‘Aquadette’ felt very different to the rest. It is a documentary about a seniors synchronised swimming group. It focuses on one of the swimmers who suffers from MS and her battle to not just keep living but have quality of life as her health is deteriarating. I loved this and felt moved by her grace, humour and determination. The film is part of the ‘California is a Place’ series, check them out here.

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BBFF – Post #1 – Parrot, A Different Perspective, The Story Of Luke

8 Mar

BBFF 2013

 

I have the pleasure of my short film ‘Glare’ being included in The Byron Bay International Film Festival. I arrived here yesterday, and I have to say, I never want to leave! It’s such a relaxed and friendly atmosphere all around Byron, I already made two friends on the shuttle from the airport!

So I got in yesterday just in time to catch session #23. The session started with 20 minute short film ‘Parrot’ which was presented by Director Craig Foster and Producer Emma McKenna, then a 1m30 animation ‘A Different Perspective’, and finished with feature film ‘The Story of Luke’.

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a different perspective animation

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I really enjoyed this session. It had the subtle theme of acceptance of people who are different. ‘Parrot’ was an interesting take on a coming of age film. In fact it almost was like a coming out film, accept the protagonist is not coming out as gay but rather as an atheist to his deeply religious parents. It was a great long short, and I have a feeling it won’t be long until we see a feature from this team.

‘A Different Perspective’ was a truly great little animation. A very simple idea of an alien planet where the perspective (as in background, middleground and foreground) is very different to ours on earth, was both beautiful and quite hilarious. And was such a cute little metaphor for accepting difference. I wish the director, Chris O’Hara, was here; it would have been really great to meet him!

‘The Story of Luke’ took me a little while to get into. The story focuses on Luke, a young man with autism, who after his sheltering grandmother dies he is thrust very suddenly into the world. At first I was a little frustrated by Lou Taylor Pucci’s portrayal of autism, it felt like a strange impersonation of Johnny Depp in ‘Charlie and The Chocolate Factory’. But as the film continued it really did start to grow on you, and he became more and more convincing. As Luke goes on his quest to get a job and a ‘screw’ the film really turns into something wonderful. The character, all very flawed, were well drawn without being overdone. This was one of those sweet, quiet films that makes you sad when it ends because you really wouldn’t mind sitting with those characters for another few hours.

FLIGHT: Just like a Hangover

13 Feb

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Flight is like a big weekend. It begins with the expectation and excitement. Denzel awakens in a ruined hotel room next to a completely naked woman with an amazing body. He snorts a line and, camera tilt, the music starts and Denzel walks down the corridor in his cool Pilot outfit (see picture). You think ‘Wow this is going to be really fun!’.

And then comes the flight scene. It’s just what you expected but better. It’s over the top, it’s so full of suspense you want to close your eyes but you can’t! It’s campy but still so effective. You never want to get on a plane again. And then BAM suddenly it’s over. A little bit bloodier than you thought and you wish that the sexy flight attendant from the beginning didn’t have to die, but still – it was great.

Denzel is knocked out and suddenly it all changes pace. It’s like a Sunday morning. You wake up bleary eyed, looking around wondering what has happened. Wait, what? This is a story about one man’s battle with addiction? Oh. The rest of the film is just like a hangover: painful, slow and slightly sickening. I don’t mind addiction stories, but when it’s got such a strong dose of morality mixed in, it makes me want to puke.

Of course, by the end of it all you are just left wondering ‘Why did I do this to myself?’

COMPLIANCE: A Flawed Masterpiece

13 Feb

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‘There was the sense of trying to get something that would be believable, or maybe not even believable but acceptable, to audiences as sounding like it had some logic to it.’ Director, ¬†Craig Zobel, in an interview with the AV club.

Compliance is truly an amazing film. Made with only fifty grand and shot almost entirely in one location, the film stands as one of the most gripping I have seen in a long time. The film is based off true events: a man called a series of 70 McDonald’s Restaurants in the United States over a period of ten years, posing as a police officer. He would tell a manager that one of the employees had stolen money from a costumer and ask them to confine and strip-search the employee. The caller would continue, seeing how far he could get the manager to go in the name of following orders. In the instance depicted in the film, they went very far. The viewing experience is pretty harrowing, causing many walk outs and heated debates on the film festival circuit.

As I said earlier, this truly is an amazing film. Since I saw it I have been unable to stop talking about it to anyone who would listen. It’s so close to being absolutely sensational except for a few pitfalls in the last quarter that are so dissapointing.

The suspense of the film is held in the conversations. The audience knows something the victims do not, so watching the poor manager cry as she forces the employee to strip is devastating. But in the last quarter the narrative goes so far off course, that the audience is left thinking that that section is fictional. In fact, it isn’t.The events that take place are so shocking that it would be a hard job to make them not necessary believable but ‘acceptable’ to use Zobel’s words. Watching the film it feels as though not even the director thaught it was plausable that those events took place. But they did. And if a little more ‘logic’ was injected into those climactic scenes, this truly could have been a masterpiece.

SLEEPWALK WITH ME: Birbiglia’s Big Dreams

11 Feb

sleepwalk with me birbiglia

We all have dreams. Matt Pandimiglio has big ones. All he wants to be is a comedian. So he works in a comedy bar and fills in doing stand up when other comedians drop out at the last minute. Also he has big dreams. As in running out of a 3rd story window in your sleep kind of dreams.

I was very keen to see this film after hearing it was a true story about a man with REM behaviour disorder. When I was twelve I watched a doco on SBS about people that commit murder in their sleep (that stopped sleepovers for a few good years let me tell you). Sleepwalk With Me wasn’t quite what I expected. Mike Birbiglia stars, directed and wrote the film that follows a hectic few months of life where his career was made, and his longterm relationship ended. As his life becomes more and more split, he dreams become more and more hectic. And he starts acting them out.

This film was pretty enjoyable. It became too much of a romantic comedy in parts which was a shame. There was one part I really liked about it though. About a quarter of the way in Matt realises he’s not really a very good comedian at all. He is under the impression that just because it is his dream, because he has wanted it so very much, for so very long somehow he must be good at it. That just wanting it is enough. Matt ¬†realises all of a sudden that he is actually going to have to try hard, get better, and take some risks in order to achieve his awake dreams. And also tie himself down so he doesn’t act out his sleeping ones.