Hooked On CinefestOZ

Elle Cahill

CinefestOZ was quite the event this year. Sigrid Thornton won the CinefestOZ 2018 Screen Legend award in recognition of her outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry. Minister for Local Government, Heritage, Culture and the Arts, the Honourable David Templeman talked about his “soiled” crotch. And Jirga took out the $100k Film Prize.

Some of the HOF team were lucky enough to journey down to the South West and enjoy all the food, wine and films on offer. So, without any further ado, here’s our top picks from the 2018 festival.

Madhattan
Documentary

Madhattan follows the story of Broome local, Felicity ‘Flic’ Brown as she prepares for her first solo show in New York Fashion Week. The documentary is full of beautiful landscapes, regional Australian personalities and more importantly, a lead subject whose positive outlook on life is contagious.

CinefestOZ Madhattan September 2018

Director, producer and cinematographer Carolyn Constantine does an exceptional job of capturing Western Australia as she follows Flic all over the Pilbara region. Constantine very carefully shows the change in environment once Flic arrives in New York, with one week to prepare for her show. The change of pace is rapid, and while Flic’s mega-watt smile never falters, the experience is draining on her as the usual hiccups take place.

The documentary wouldn’t have been the success that it is without Flic. She radiates energy and her enthusiasm for her creations is truly captivating. There is no life-changing event that happened to make Flic pursue her passion. The documentary is simply about a woman who fell in love with a craft and worked hard at it to become a success story, and there’s something beautiful in that alone.

Dying To Live
Documentary

Dying To Live takes an in-depth look into organ and tissue transplantation in Australia as it follows the story of five people who are all in desperate need of a donation. The documentary is absolutely heart-breaking as director Richard Todd carefully navigates through each person’s story, capturing the rawness of each individual’s ups and downs.

CinefestOZ Dying To Live September 2018

The documentary ultimately highlights the importance of having the conversation about organ donation with your family, while also showing a rare insight into the whole process. Todd makes a point of highlighting the fact that organ donation can be needed at any age, and that once an organ has been matched to a person on the list, the process doesn’t stop there as sometimes the organs don’t take immediately.

Overall, it’s a tearjerker that carries an important message about being able to give the gift of life after you or your loved one have passed on.

Reaching Distance
Feature Film

Reaching Distance follows Logan who wakes on a bus late at night to find one of the other passenger’s is his twin sister’s killer. As Logan continues to relive his interaction with the man and his fellow passengers on the bus, he begins to realise that all their lives are entwined and not all is as it seems.

CinefestOZ Reaching Distance September 2018

Reaching Distance is the first offering from director David Fairhurst, and it marks him as one to watch. He has created a clever and dramatic exploration of the effects guilt can have on a person and how their previous actions can impact their conscience long after the event. Fairhurst puts a unique spin on the idea of purgatory and forgiveness and delivers it with thought.

Armed with a talented cast, particularly lead actor Wade Briggs, the film unfolds in twists and turns, with the truth slowly coming to light. Despite the film sometimes drawing out for too long in some parts, the film is a great first offering from Fairhurst, and one that keeps you thinking long after the final credits have rolled.

Finke: There and Back
Documentary

CinefestOZ Finke There And Back September 2018

Finke: There and Back follows five people’s stories as they prepare for the Finke Desert Race – one of the longest off-road motorsport tracks in the world, which also happens to be Australia’s most deadly motor sport event. The documentary gives an insight into the relatively unknown event (for those outside of the motorsport world), and the perils that those who race it regularly come up against.

Director Dylan River not only sheds light on those who are willing to risk everything for the race, but also to those who have risked everything and lost, like Isaac Elliott. He decides to take on the course again despite being a paraplegic from a horrific crash that took place while training for the Finke race in 2007.

The documentary is a clever piece of work, and doesn’t shy away from the harsh realities that some of the racers come into contact with. It is packed full of footage from the race and many close calls that will leave you gasping as the film unfolds.

CinefestOZ image sourced from cinefestoz.com.au. Madhattan image sourced from madhattanthemovie.com.au, courtesy of Constantine Productions. Dying to Live image sourced from IMDb.com, courtesy of Aquarius Productions & Gifting Life Pty Ltd.  Reaching Distance image sourced from IMDb.com, courtesy of Reaching Distance Pty Ltd. Finke: There and Back image sourced from screenaustralia.gov.au, courtesy of Brindle Films Pty Ltd . 

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Part 1: Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival is back for 2018! Screening from July 5-18, this is your chance to check out the latest and greatest in independent cinema. Featuring films and documentaries from Australia and all over the world, here’s a snippet of what’s on offer! Stay tuned for another sneak peak next week!

Antonio Lopez 1970: Sex, Fashion and Disco
Documentary
USA

Sex, fashion and disco – need we say anymore?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Antonio Lopez July 2018
Sex, Fashion and Disco chronicles the crazy, wild ride that was fashion illustrator Antonio Lopez’s career. The documentary features interviews from some heavyweights in the fashion and film industry such as Grace Coddington (American Vogue creative director) and Jessica Lange (American Horror Story), as well as wild stories about Karl Lagerfield, Jerry Hall, Grace Jones and Andy Warhol.

Tales are told, and old times are reminisced upon with joy and laughter from an era when sexuality was an experiment and drugs went hand-in-hand with the fashion industry. There are some poignant moments, such as the racism issue in America that drove Lopez away in the late 60’s, and the impact that the AIDs epidemic had on the fashion industry that brought about a sense of seriousness to the documentary, but director James Crump doesn’t delve too deeply into these matters.

Sex, Fashion and Disco is intended to take the audience on a mad trip back in time to a period when irresponsibility was to be favoured, and the fashion industry was at its peak, and it certainly achieves this.


More Human Than Human
Documentary
Netherlands

What does it mean to live in the age of intelligent machines? Two documentarians set out to find out.

Rhys Pascoe

Revelation FF More Human Than Human July 2018
For over a century, science-fiction cinema has heralded a future populated with synthetic robots and artificial intelligence, from Fritz Lang’s Metropolis to Denis Villeneuve’s Blade Runner 2049. In their 78-minute documentary More Human Than Human, filmmakers Tommy Pallotta and Femke Wolting attempt to condense this abundance of ideas into a single streamlined premise; could a robot replace a filmmaker?

In partnership with a robotics lab, Pallotta and Wolting set to work rigging up a ‘camera bot’ that can read faces, frame its subject and pose questions to the ‘interviewee’, which in this case is Pallotta. In parallel to this, the documentarians scour the globe for case studies relating to the current state of artificial intelligence, conducting interviews and learning more about current innovations in the field.

While this pattern – cutting between case studies and the unfolding lab project – helps to structure the film, the two strands don’t always mesh seamlessly. While the main premise is interesting, it doesn’t have the same pull as the varied experiments that are touched on to flesh out the runtime.

All told, this tidy film has something to say about a wide range of technological marvels, and should make even the most ardent technophile feel a little on edge next time they boot up their smartphone or laptop.


Lost Gully Road
Feature Film
Australia

A film about a girl on the run, a bag of money, a spiritual entity, some shady side characters and some flickering lights… confused yet?

Elle Cahill

Revelation FF Lost Gully Road

On the run, Lucy (Adele Perovic) goes into hiding in an isolated house in the middle of a forest. As the days trickle by, she quickly descends into boredom, with her only form of entertainment coming from the once a day phone call from her sister to give her an update on the “situation”. A spiritual entity soon makes its presence known, further adding to Lucy’s paranoia and the feeling of isolation.

This spiritual entity is portrayed in a very similar way to Olivier Assayas 2016’s Personal Shopper, and is further emphasised through flickering lights and voyeuristic POV shots, but it doesn’t quite achieve the thrill or scariness that I think was intended.

Perovic does well with the material provided, particularly during her interactions with the spiritual entity and the physicality she brings to those scenes. Without giving too much more away, director Donna McRae has attempted to use Lost Gully Road to comment on the female experience in a male-dominated world, and the issue of consent. Unfortunately for me, the film doesn’t quite hit the mark, but I can understand what McRae was trying to achieve.


[Censored]
Documentary
Australia

An Australian documentarian goes looking for shocking material of old. Surprisingly, she’s upset when she’s shocked by it…

Corey Hogan

Revelation FF censored July 2018
[Censored] is the hour-long final product of Sari Braithwaite’s delve into Canberra’s extensive archive of clips cut from international films by Australian censors between 1951 and 1978. She presents her findings as an essay documentary and think-piece, slicing thematically linked clips together and intercutting with the rules and regulations of the Australian Censorship Board, commentating with her own opinion on what was deemed unacceptable for audiences back in the day, and what would surely pass without the bat of an eyelash in more modern, unshackled times.

Cinephiles and historians will no doubt revel in the mouth-watering smorgasbord of never-before-seen clips surgically removed from hundreds of films of the era, ranging from timeless classics like Ingmar Bergman’s Persona, to lesser-known gems and even a (potentially) educational video featuring a childbirth. Braithwaite states upon commencing that her goal was to liberate these filmmakers’ artistic visions from the conservative fuddy-duddies intent on muffling creativity. At first, she is true to her word, highlighting the ridiculousness of cutting simple scenes of kisses between couples and verbal arguments that drop a few F-bombs. Soon though, she begins to question the necessity of sex scenes, nudity, and violence – in particular violence against women – and it is up to us as an audience to decide whether we agree with her more contemporary opinion, or if we can appreciate these clips as a time capsule in the context of their films and period.

Personally, I found Braithwaite’s approach decidedly closed-minded and loaded with bias, but no doubt there will be a large crowd who agree with and find poignancy in how off-put she is by the shocking content here. Considering the amount of these taboos we see unabashedly in everything we watch these days, perhaps it’s consuming so much distressing media at once that had Braithwaite sympathising with the censors. However you feel about the topic [Censored] is certainly provocative in one way or the other.

Images courtesy of Revelation Perth International Film Festival 2018

Movie Review – The Gateway

This Perth-produced sci-fi thriller earns a B+ for ambition, but can’t quite make the grade anywhere else.

⭐ ⭐
Corey Hogan 

Jane Chandler’s (Jacqueline McKenzie) time is unevenly split between her family and her all-consuming job as a particle physicist on the brink of creating a functioning teleportation device. A breakthrough in her work reveals that her machine does not in fact transport matter, but instead sends it to a parallel universe; a revelation put on hold abruptly when Jane’s husband (Myles Pollard) is killed in a car accident. Overwhelmed with grief and unable to cope without him, she journeys to a parallel universe to bring back another version of her husband – without realising that the universe he is from has dark and violent tendencies.

The term ‘know your limits’ exists for a reason. It’s a rule that applies to filmmakers too; your idea may be bold, but that might not outweigh the resources you have available to you or the cliché-ridden script that embalms it. Someone should probably have told this to director/co-writer John V. Soto (Crush, Needle), whose heart is most certainly in the right place, but really should have been a bit more creative in bringing his sci-fi thriller The Gateway to life.

There’s always juicy potential in a premise that involves teleportation and multiple variations of our universe, and Soto starts engagingly enough with the determined Jane and her lab partner Regg (Ben Mortley) racing against the clock to make their matter-transporting passion project come to life before their executives cut their funding. It might not be such of a problem for international audiences, but right off the bat, the very blatantly Perth setting throws any credibility straight out the window – at least for local viewers. Perth audiences will no doubt scoff at the idea that our government would possibly commission scientists to experiment with the unbelievable, instead of, say, spending tax dollars on more speed cameras. Amazingly, in a film that features reality-hopping and lethal alien tasers, this is the most far-fetched concept.

Soto’s biggest downfall is shooting for that Hollywood blockbuster feel on a budget that is barely a fraction of their cost. As a result, his dependence on visual effects derails proceedings, bleeding the little money the production had into a hodgepodge of tacky CGI. Worse is the poor lighting palette and filters (particularly in the drab dystopia of the parallel world), which gives this the shabby feel of a Syfy Channel original.

Soto should have looked to his micro-budgeted peers for inspiration. Take James Ward Byrkit’s Coherence, for example. On an even smaller budget, it managed to be far more engaging and thought-provoking without the reliance on any visual trickery, simply because it focused instead on making its characters strong and ideas heard. And as a local filmmaker, Soto should have taken a leaf from Ben Young’s book; last year’s Hounds of Love was miniscule in scale and yet enormous in impact and resonance. Bigger is not always better – what’s the point in copying Hollywood when forming our own creative identity is much more interesting?

It’s not all bad of course. Jacqueline McKenzie does her best in attempting to elevate the material, as does Ben Mortley in forming a likable enough partnership. The early mix of science and family stuff fares fine separately; it’s just unfortunate to see it culminate in Myles Pollard doing his best Robert Patrick in Terminator 2 impression to become killer dad and hunt down his family. As tempting as it is to support local productions, the truth is you can see the same elsewhere and executed much more successfully.

The Gateway is available in selected Australian cinemas from May 3

Image courtesy of Rialto Distribution

Who Should’ve Won At The AACTAs

Josip Knezevic 

The AACTAs, Australia’s version of the Oscars, celebrate the finest achievements in Australian cinema. 2017 brought us a strong pool of nominees that represent a bright future for Australian film, and while these films won’t put Australia on the international film map as say Lord of the Rings did for New Zealand, they’re still remarkable achievements for Australian filmmaking.

Yes, you may be thinking the AACTAs took place in December last year, but seeing as it’s Australia Day long weekend, it seems apt to look back at who won versus who should have won and honour the greatest Australian films of 2017.

Best Film
Winner: Lion
Who Should Have Won: Ali’s Wedding

From the outset, it was obvious that Lion was going to take this top spot, as it did in so many categories. It boasts a much larger production budget than its fellow nominees and also features some of the world’s biggest stars in Nicole Kidman, Dev Patel and Rooney Mara. I can’t complain that it won, it’s a beautiful and gut-wrenching story, but at the same time, Ali’s Wedding represents a fresh breath of air for Australian storytelling and the depiction of our culture on screen. Yes, it may just be a simple love story on the surface, but it has so many little charms and quirks that make it genuinely funny and interesting to watch. It would have been a very deserving winner.

Best Direction
Winner: Lion (Garth Davis)
Who Should Have Won: Hounds of Love (Ben Young)

Although I enjoyed the emotional journey Garth Davis took us upon in Lion, I can’t help but feel that Ben Young’s skills should have been recognised here, and not just because his film Hounds of Love was filmed in WA. Most of his film takes place within the walls of a small home and focuses on the relationship between two emotionally twisted and disturbed serial killers. Young shows great restraint throughout the film, tending to let your imagination take over, rather than simply showing a lot of graphic violence. He creates a lot of tension and directs some skillful, emotional performances from his leads all on a very small budget. I’m looking forward to seeing him take on bigger projects in the future.

Best Lead Actor
Winner: Sunny Pawar (Lion)
Who Should Have Won: Sunny Pawar (Lion)

Cuteness will always reign supreme. 9-year-old Sunny Pawar took out the Best Lead actor category and I agree wholeheartedly with this choice. Let’s hope this child protégé continues his acting success as an adult.

Best Lead Actress
Winner: Emma Booth (Hounds of Love)
Who Should Have Won: Emma Booth (Hounds of Love)

Without Emma Booth’s powerhouse performance, Hounds of Love would not have been anywhere near as enjoyable. Booth brought an emotional delicacy to her serial killer role that encouraged sympathy towards her, despite her horrendous pursuits. Ever since her days on TV’s Underbelly she’s proven herself to be a fantastic actress, and I’m glad she’s getting recognition for her work on the big screen.

Best Supporting Actor
Winner: Dev Patel (Lion)
Who Should Have Won: Dev Patel (Lion)

Much like Emma Booth’s strong example in Hounds of Love, Dev Patel has such a powerful and resonating performance in Lion that without him, I doubt the film could have reached the same strong ending. Together, him and Sunny Pawar made a fine team on their emotional journey to find their way home. Patel has gone from strength to strength ever since his lead performance in Slumdog Millionaire

Best Supporting Actress
Winner: Nicole Kidman (Lion)
Who Should Have Won: Nicole Kidman (Lion)

The Lion train continues, and the fine performances on offer in this film should make everyone jump on board. Lion is a prime example of what happens when you put together a cast of A-list Hollywood actors and everything clicks. Nicole Kidman plays the mother who adopts a young Indian refugee, and her wisdom as an experienced actor brings an emotional connection to the film that would not have been anywhere near as strong without her.

 

Image courtesy of Madman Entertainment 

Flickerfest 2017

Josip Knezevic

60 Shorts. 1 Academy Accredited Award for Best Australian Short Film. Yes, it’s the 26th Flickerfest Short Film Festival: a showcase from Australian filmmakers to Australian audiences. Compared to Australia’s most popular short film festival Tropfest, which displays 16 films each year, Flickerfest has the ability to boast a larger catalogue, which will be sure to please anyone’s genre tastes.

But with a larger array of films, it can be more challenging to decipher which ones are worth your time. Never fear: Hooked On Film is here to help. If you do get a chance to see the festival, be on the lookout for these four, which are bound to impress you with what Australia has to offer. While there may be a series of international films also available in the festival, we’re only looking at the Australian entries today.

4. I’m Raymond (17 mins)
Produced by Lib Kelly, Catherine Williams
Written and Directed by Eddy Bell

03 March - Flickerfest Im Raymond
Distorting the lines between fiction and reality, I’m Raymond takes a trivial idea and extorts it to the highest of consequences. 8-year-old Raymond Banks starts a name and shame campaign against his family’s company on the sole basis that they are responsible for jeopardising his future by contributing to global warming. Soon a drug-addicted model becomes involved, an official case is lodged and Karl Stefanovic reports it on the news – see what I mean by the highest of consequences?

Whilst the ludicrousness of the situation escalates on screen, a deeper meaning subsides the visual conflicts. Ultimately this is what elevates Bell’s short film to be in top 4 of this list. It becomes a message not about global warming or climate change but one that deals with the relationships between children and adults.

3. Face (13 mins)
Produced by Luke Tierney, Michelle Hardy
Written by Luke Tierney, Henry Nixon
Directed by Luke Tierney

03 March - Flickerfest Face
Speaking of distorting lines, Luke Tierney’s Face takes it to another level. The pitch: James urgently needs to get to the pharmacy by midnight to receive his “mysterious” pills otherwise his face will literally fall off. Unfortunately it’s 11:30pm and the only one who can drive him is his weird neighbour Steve. OK, let’s go.

What I enjoyed the most about Tierney’s experiment was the way the film was shot and presented. There’s a real lucid like feel to the whole drive and it works incredibly well with the overall tone of the short. It’s strange, but that’s what makes it great. The humour is unique and unsuspecting and you can’t help but be completely induced by its trippy presentation. It’s a stoner’s idea for a movie but thankfully it’s one that holds up to its absurdity and is enjoyable to watch.

2. Fish With Legs (10 Mins)
Produced by Nikos Andronicos, Tania Frampton
Written by Nikos Andronicos
Directed by Dave Carter

03 March - Flickerfest Fish with Legs
Short but bittersweet. Fish with Legs effortlessly brushes through the conflicts of science and religion with humour, emotion and beautiful animation to leave a lasting impression long after the credits roll. The story follows a school of fish who awake to discover that everyone in their society has now grown legs. A young enthusiastic preacher of science takes this as the proof he’s been waiting for and declares that evolution is occurring and it is now time for them to take action and move forward out of the seas. What lies ahead is short film that is smarter that what it appears to be.

Andronicos’ script carefully weaves logic with faith to present an array of meanings to take away. This is not a short film bashing those of religious faith over those in the scientific community; it’s a presentation of how these ideas would have manifested in earlier times and how they still reflect the reality of today. Steadied with the careful eye of Dave Carter at the helm, Fish With Legs represents a rare but well overdue gem of Australian animation.

1. The Eleven O’Clock
Produced by Derin Seale, Karen Bryson, Josh Lawson
Written by Josh Lawson
Directed by Derin Seale

03 March - Flickerfest Eleven Oclock

It’s hard to argue against the winner of the Flickerfest festival, Josh Lawson’s The Eleven O’Clock. A cleverly written, sharp and fast paced film that packs memorable lines of dialogue – I can’t wait to watch this short film again. Following the footsteps of iconic comedy routines by Abbott and Costello, the setup involves a delusional patient of who believes he is actually a psychiatrist up against his “real” psychiatrist. As they attempt to treat each other, a battle of wits begins with all glory going to the winner and a tragic end to the loser.

The best part about Lawson’s script is how actively it includes the audience in its story. You become the detective trying to solve the very puzzle itself of who’s who and this is what makes it so much fun. Up until the very last minute, you have no clue on what the outcome is going to, be but looking back, the subtle foreshadowing will make you kick yourself. Truly an equally funny film as it is smartly written.

Images courtesy of Flickerfest

Top 4 – Tropfest 25

Cherie Wheeler 

Around this time last year, we were all left shell-shocked by the threat of Tropfest becoming extinct, but 12 months later, against all expectations the festival has endured. Sensitive topics of lawsuits and the mysterious disappearance of millions of dollars have all be swept under the rug… and maybe that’s a good thing. With the behind-the-scenes controversies shoved firmly into the shadows, this year the spotlight has been rightfully turned to shine on the competing filmmakers for the 25th anniversary of Australia’s largest short film festival.

Tropfest celebrated its quarter of a century in style, with a televised event held at Parramatta Park where the 16 finalists were screened. This year’s short films had to incorporate a pineapple as part of Tropfest’s tradition of the signature item, and as always, there were varied interpretations of this; from subtle inclusions, to cringe-worthily obvious plugs.

Overall, this year’s top short films were a bit hit and miss; some of the weaker productions made me question whether many filmmakers even entered the competition, given the ambiguity surrounding the festival’s continued existence. On the bright side, however, there was a notable number of female filmmakers among the top crop, with roughly half of the finalists directed or produced by women.

Despite being a bit of a mixed bag, of those short films that did hit the mark, there were some truly outstanding displays of storytelling. So without any further ado, here’s my top 4 from this year’s finalists.

4. THE WALL
Story by Nick Baker
Animation by Tristan Klein

02-february-tropfest-the-wall
It always blows me away when amateur film festivals produce high quality animations. With absolutely stunning 2D visuals that bring to mind the early films of Georges Méliès, The Wall is like a children’s picture book for adults. Inspired by the plight of today’s refugees and Trump’s absurd proposal for a Game of Thrones-esque Mexican wall, Nick Baker’s short animation tells the tale of an elderly grandmother trying to survive in a tough reality. Narrated with a mystical quality by David Wenham, and supported by an emotive score from Helen Jane Long, The Wall does fall into slightly preachy territory in its final third, but its bittersweet ending more than makes up for this.

Going Vego was another animated finalist that at first appeared to be for children, but had very strong adult themes. Although boasting some amusing dialogue and excellent comedic timing from the voice talent, The Wall just pipped this one at the post in my humble opinion.


3. TALC
Directed and shot by Jefferson Grainger

02-february-tropfest-talc
In the short runtime required by Tropfest, this mini documentary only just gets to scratch the surface of what could potentially expand into a much broader narrative. Living alone in the outback, Talc is a deeply intriguing artist with a very strong worldview. At times, it’s difficult to tell whether he’s completely insane or a total genius… perhaps he’s both, but Jefferson Grainger’s exploration of this real-life character does not judge or manipulate opinion. It simply presents this incredible man through a beautifully shot and edited journey that will leave you deep in thought as you consider Talc’s fascinating theories and way of life.


2. SERVICE UPDATE
Produced & Directed by Olly Sindle

02-february-2017-tropfest-service-update
“I smile, you smile, the whole world smile”.

These are the words of Carl Downer – a Jamaican man who has carved an unexpected career out of bringing joy to any who cross his path in the London Underground. Service Update, like Talc, is another gorgeously shot documentary that’s based around a compelling character. While Talc intrigues, Service Update is imbued with the glorious feeling of pure, unadulterated happiness. It’s a viewing experience that will leave you grinning from ear to ear, as if you’ll actually float away out of your chair from the sheer elation. Carl Downer is a beautiful soul brimming with love for his job, other people and life in general. His story is a definite mood booster if there ever was one.


1. THE MOTHER SITUATION
Written & directed by Matt Day

02-february-2017-tropfest-the-mother-situation

The winner of Tropfest 25, and also my top pick, The Mother Situation is easily the most cinematic of all the finalists. Starring experienced Australian actors Sacha Horler (Offspring), Harriet Dyer (Love Child) and also writer/director Matt Day (Rake) – this short film is really in a class of its own. It’s a little unfair, really. Tropfest has always been a showcase of amateur filmmaking by emerging storytellers, and these three are well-seasoned in comparison to some of the other entrants. But Matt Day’s script is so fucking fantastic that it’s hard to sit here and complain too much. Channelling similar vibes to 2014 winner Granny Smith, The Mother Situation is a black comedy that’s best watched with as little knowledge of its concept as possible. Find it. Watch it. Enjoy it. That is all.

Another dark comedy to reach the finals was Meat & Potatoes, but while it featured some great banter between its leads, and some wonderfully absurd situations that bring Netflix’s Santa Clarita Diet to mind, it just falls short of my top 4, despite being the runner up of the whole competition.

Images courtesy of tropfest.com.au 

Hooked Takes On CinefestOZ 2016

Chantal Victor

Sit back and imagine the best party you’ve ever been to, mixed with your favourite film of the year. Add in some beautiful landscapes and a road trip, and there you have it… CinefestOZ 2016! I don’t think I’ve had this much fun while being so busy in such a long time! I know CinefestOZ is that one festival that gets talked about every year, but I never seem to make my way down south to attend because I always have enough excuses not to go. Well, this year I made it my goal to go, and believe me, if there is one event all film lovers should attend its Cinefest!

The festival runs from a Wednesday to Sunday with the Gala evening on the Saturday night where the winning film of the $100 000 prize is announced. This year’s winning film is Girl Asleep, which is certainly a weird film, but once I got to sit in conversation with the creators, everything started to make sense. The festival also delights itself in premiering ground breaking films, and this year I was lucky enough to get a seat to the world premiere of Pulse, an independent Australian feature film about a gay disabled teenage boy who changes into the body of a beautiful woman so that he can be loved.

Even though it rained throughout the weekend, there wasn’t a time when people weren’t either lining up to make it into a cinema or chatting enthusiastically in the foyer about the most recent film they’d seen. As soon as I thought I’d take a quick break and grab lunch I’d catch myself buying another ticket for the next screening. Popcorn became a staple in my diet. One of those unplanned tickets was for the Sydney Film Festival Finalist documentary Zach’s Ceremony, a beautiful film about a boy learning to transition from boyhood into a man, in both the modern world and his ancient culture. The audience got to see a glimpse of the traditional ceremony Zach had to take part in to become a warrior within his culture in loving honour of his grandfather.

My favourite film at Cinefest was Hotel Coolgardie, a very raw documentary of a remote pub in Coolgardie which receives a rotation of foreign travellers every 3 months who work as bar maids to replenish their travel funds. The documentary follows two Finnish girls and how they cope in the outback. At times, I honestly feared for the girls’ safety throughout the film and I didn’t want to look. It sheltered the audience from nothing and made us feel like we were a part of it.

I only got down on Friday night and missed out on all the industry days where aspiring filmmakers got to chat to industry experts, but I managed to squeeze everything out of the festival right to the very end at a side bar at Caves House with a few short films. The South West is a beautiful backdrop for such an eventful week with amazing food and friends. I cannot wait to drive down next year and see what CinefestOZ 2017 has to offer. See you all next year!

It’s almost time for CinefestOZ!

Chantall Victor

It’s almost that time of year when film fanatics, Australian filmmakers and industry experts collide at CinefestOZ Film Festival in Australia’s Southwest to view short films, attend workshops and walk the red carpet at feature film premieres. Add in food, wine and great company, and you have the perfect combination for like-minded people to come together. Located in some of the most beautiful wine regions of Western Australia, Cinefest offers a five-day getaway to explore Bunbury, Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River.

Here’s some of the highlights to look forward to:

On the opening night, Bunbury will host the Australian premiere of French film Up For Love and will also feature the WA premiere of the Mel Gibson led Blood Father. There will also be a free community screening that focusses on Australia’s female filmmakers and also the premiere of TV series Upstart Crow.

Up For Love
5:30pm, Wednesday 24 August
Grand Cinemas, Bunbury
Get Tickets

08 August - Cinefest 1

CinefestOZ: When successful lawyer, Diane (Virginie Efira) gets a call from the man who found her mobile phone, she is immediately intrigued and charmed. As she and Alexandre (Jean Dujardin) chat and make plans to meet, it becomes evident that the chemistry between them is great. However, when they meet the next day it turns out there may be one small problem. A perfect match in every way but one, will this new couple be up for the challenge?

Blood Father
5:30pm, Thursday 25 August
Grand Cinemas, Bunbury
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08 August - Cinefest 2

CinefestOZ: Action and attitude meets humour and humility as Gibson stars as John Link – an ex-con trying to embrace life on the straight and narrow. When his estranged daughter Lydia is caught up in a drug deal gone wrong, she reaches out to the last man she ever thought she’d need – her father.

Upstart Crow
6:30pm, Friday 26 August
Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre
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CinefestOZ: This BBC TV series is the latest from comic genius, Ben Elton, which humorously chronicles the life of William Shakespeare before he became famous.

In Conversation: Girl Asleep
8:30am, Saturday 27 August
Deck Marina Bar & Restaurant
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08 August - Cinefest 4
Chat to the filmmakers behind Girl Asleep. CinefestOZ: Navigating puberty in 1970’s suburbia, Greta doesn’t want to grow up. Her mum is embarrassing and her sister disinterested. Geeky Elliott is her only ally. Greta’s surprise 15th birthday party is on track to be the worst night of her life – until she’s flung into an odd fairy-tale universe with a warrior princess. 

Hotel Coolgardie with Q&A
12:00pm, Saturday 27 August
Orana Cinemas, Busselton
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08 August - Cinefest 5

CinefestOZ: Attracted by the idea of saving much-needed travel funds whilst enjoying an authentic outback experience, two Finnish backpackers find themselves the latest batch of “fresh meat” en route to live and work as barmaids at the only pub in a remote Australian mining town. Confronted by a culture of insularity, insults and impunity, and relentlessly harassed and harangued, their working holiday rapidly deteriorates into a test of endurance – as they discover that to meet expectations they’ll need to do more than just pour drinks! Amusing, shocking, and unexpectedly moving, Hotel Coolgardie is a wryly-observed warts-and-all journey into an outback Australia rarely depicted on screen.

There are many other great events to attend from Busselton to Margaret River, with a little bit of everything for everyone. I will be attending from the Friday until Sunday evening so stay up to date with my whereabouts via the Hooked On Film twitter account and come and say hi!

Images and film synopses courtesy of CinefestOZ 2016 & Icon Film Distribution

Revelation Film Festival -Get Your Shorts On!

Revelation Film Festival crowd-pleaser Get Your Shorts On! came to town last week. Here’s the lowdown on the best of the best in short filmmaking in WA right now.

Josip Knezevic

Get Your Shorts On! encompasses the very best of what Perth has to offer in short films, and this year eight spectacular productions screened at Luna Leederville to showcase the creativity and skill of our local filmmakers. Of these, there were three standouts that I’d like to single out for Perth’s most promising talent.

3. Normal People
Producer:
Jenna Dimitrijevic
Director:
James Pontifex

Contrary to its title, this RAW Nerve funded short is anything but normal. An unfortunate party goer misreads an invitation and rocks up dressed as a panda only to discovers she is the only one in a costume. That is until she meets a man in a penguin suit…

Normal People is certainly an original piece of filmmaking, with some nice moments of quirky humour. My only disappointment is that it only runs for 7 minutes. Given more time on screen, I think these two loveable characters could have been fleshed out even more. Additionally, the concept is loaded with comedic opportunity that could have been further explored in a longer version… So the only question is, when do we get to see the feature film, guys?

2. Outline
Producer: Jess Parker
Director: Cody Cameron-Brown

Successfully funded by Pozible, Outline tells the story of a grieving young artist who seeks redemption in an unlikely place. She uses her craft to recreate her fallen friend in remembrance of her spirit and by the end of the film, you truly get the sense that this was an incredibly personal film for its creators. A simple idea that works marvelously on screen, I thoroughly enjoyed this 6-minute short with its beautiful artistry and emotional touches. Clearly others are being won over as well; the short was selected to appear in the Short Film Corner at Cannes Film Festival earlier this year.

1. The Shapes: Cool Rock Video and I’m A Genius
Producer: Lauren Elliott
Director: Matt Lovkis & Henry Inglis

Hot damn, this was awesome! The Shapes: Cool Rock Video and I’m A Genius is my favourite from this year’s Get Your Shorts On! selection. Yes, on a technical level, this 3-minute animation is fantastically well crafted, but what puts this project in first place is it’s success as a musical. Its catchy beats are filled with ridiculously self-aware, funny lyrics; on my way out of the screening I could still hear the addictive songs in my head. With a joyous colour palette and eye-catching transitions, this short and sweet animation is a must watch!

 

Tropfest 2016 – Trop 5

Not even a financial disaster can stop the Trop! Make your way over to iTunes, Presto or YouTube and check out some of this year’s fantastic finalists.  

Corey Hogan

It almost didn’t happen. Australia’s filmmaking community – including the thousands of hard working writers, directors, actors and crew members who had been a part of the 450-plus short film entries – was rocked to its core back in November by the shock announcement that Tropfest had been abruptly cancelled, thanks to an inconveniently misplaced six-figure fund. Whoops.

CGU Insurance swooped in to resurrect the nation’s biggest short film festival, hastily sweeping that rather embarrassing bit of controversy under the rug and ensuring the sixteen film finalists reached our televisions. Though it meant enduring some cringe-worthy hosting from SBS’s insufferable alumni of The Feed, we should be very grateful, as this year’s finalists prove that our up-and-coming silver screen creatives only get more talented as each year passes.

The “signature item” this time round was “card” – to be envisioned by each entrant however they chose. Sadly there were no West Australian finalists in sight, but forgivable for the sheer high standard set by the gifted bunch selected as the supreme sixteen. It was difficult to narrow down, but here are five of my favourites – a “Trop 5”, if you will – in no particular order.

Stella
Director: Kiah Roach Turner
Producer: Cain Thompson
Origin: NSW

03 March - Tropfest Trop 5 Stella
Kiah Roache-Turner – director of Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead – churns out the wittiest and flat-out funniest entry of this year’s competition with Stella, a morally conflicting and highly amusing exercise in uncomfortable humour. Two best mates meet at a bar for a few beers to ventilate the relationship troubles plaguing their lives; one having learnt that, much to his dismay, his wife is cheating on him, and the other suspiciously confessing that he has fallen in love with a married woman…

There’s subtle technical feats at play here, from appropriately timed jukebox blues music to a Birdman-style single take hovering around our frenemies; but what really stands out is Roache-Turner’s tight, compelling script, and the dynamic acting duo that bring it to life with expert comedic timing. It’s shocking, cringe-inducing, and incredibly entertaining.

Watch here


Shiny
Director: Daniel Cloud Campos & Spencer Susser
Producer: Daniel Cloud Campos & Spencer Susser
Origin: USA

03 March - Tropfest Trop 5 Shiny
This year’s winner took everyone by surprise: directors Daniel Cloud Campos and Spencer Susser make use of nothing but clothing for an animated yarn that’s short, sweet and a little ingenious. A damsel in distress is defended by an unsung suited gentleman, who must fight off a whirlwind of crazed costumed characters all seeking the lady’s handbag and the shiny treasure within…

Putting the classic stop-motion technique to use in unthinkably inventive new ways, it’s really something that needs to be witnessed to appreciate, and promises big things of its American creators – you might even find yourself contemplating the possible things you could do with that old pile of clothes on the floor afterwards.

Watch here


Postcards to Ulay
Director: Nick Baker & Tristan Klein
Producer: Nick Baker & Tristan Klein
Origin: NSW

03 March - Tropfest Trop 5 Postcards
Animation reigns supreme among this years’ finalists, and while it may not be quite as visually innovative as Shiny, Nick Baker Tristan Klein’s tale excels in packing an emotional wallop. Having unsuccessfully sent every dog in the land into space, Russian cosmonauts seek out and kidnap the last canine, Ulay; loving companion to a widowed old man. Dearly missing his best friend, the old man sends hundreds of postcards addressed to Ulay into the sky, hoping that one will eventually traverse the outer reaches of the galaxy and find him.

The cutout animation is fluid and the music highly effective; and though told through simple narration as if it were a bedtime fable, Baker shows true storytelling power in his tragedy, creating the most affecting film among the finalists – even more so than any live action short.

Watch here


Waste of Time
Director: Ben Nicholas & Alistair Marks
Producer: Julian Vincent Costanzo & Ben Nicholas
Origin: VIC

03 March - Tropfest Trop 5 Waste Of Time
Time travel is a ripe vessel with infinite possibilities, so it’s no wonder it inspires filmmakers like Ben Nicholas and Alistair Marks to conjure up innovative stories. John has spent the last twelve years of his life in his parents’ garage building a time machine, and today is the day he finally plans to use it. But a mysterious man claiming to be from the future appears to warn John of the dangerous impact time travel will have on his life if he does go ahead with his project.

Immediately bringing to mind Primer, which itself was produced on barely any budget; it shows just how far filmmaking and technology has come since, and further proves that grand scale effects aren’t necessary to craft a clever, original science fiction narrative. Some interesting commentary on the vaccine debate and an unexpected twist showcase the big ideas that come in Nicholas and Marks’ small package.

Watch here


Wish You Here
Director: Benjamin O’Donnell
Producer: Tanya Andrews
Origin: NSW

03 March - Tropfest Trop 5 Wish You Here
The zombie genre is now extremely overfed and well past its decomposition date, but Benjamin O’Donnell’s quaint vision of the undead apocalypse manages to breathe some life into a tattered corpse. Freshly undead Karl is alone in an empty world, and feels the crushing isolation setting in on him. Fortunately, he still vaguely remembers some functions of his human behaviour from prior to the end of days, so stationing himself at his computer he tries desperately to contact his now missing wife via email.

O’Donnell builds a whole lot of emotion from Karl’s despondent attempts at messaging, genuinely making us feel for this animated corpse, and our peek at his melancholic day-to-day activities is bleakly funny; but most impressive here is the aesthetic – the zombie makeup, desolate set design and visual effects could almost be mistaken for Hollywood output.

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Images (c) Tropfest 2016 

Source: http://www.tropfest.com/au