Tag Archives: short film

MIAF Day 2 – International Program #1; Focus on Belgium #1

22 Jun

REMINDER: The Australian Showcase is Saturday the 23rd at 4.00pm. Tickets will most likely sell out so make sure you get your ticket secured.

International Program #1

The first twelve assorted films in the running for Best of the Festival. Mostly consisting of European and Asian films, the first international program gave us viewers a good taste of what is to be expected from the films up for the grand prize. What is that expectation? Complete and utter randomness. CGI, scratch, cel, cut-out, stop-motion; it was all there!

Here are my top picks for this screening:

About Killing the Pig/ Dell’ammazare Il Maiale (Simone Massi, 2011) – Very dark charcoal-looking animation with little colour but plenty of style.

My… My (Lei Lei, 2011) Heavily inspired by video games, a man chases a moose-man through a glitch-ridden world.

Auntie Nettle (Svetlana Zueva, 2011) Russian cut-out animation with almost an expressionist look about it. A haunting little film; like the nightmare of The Secret Garden, complete with piercing string music and grotesque visuals. Arguably the best film of the session.

How to Eat Your Apple (Erick Oh, 2011) – Exactly as it sounds, but with a bizarre, humorous twist.

Focus on Belgium #1

Before this session I didn’t even know Belgian animation existed. I’m sure glad I gave it a go. The session consisted of a fine mixture of historic and contemporary Belgian animation. From this collection of films there seems to be a pattern or theme with Belgian animation – as cheerful as a film may seem, it will inevitably have a negative conclusion.

Un Voyage Imprevu (Albert Fromenteau, 1944) – Proof that Disney set the blueprints of animation to the entire world, this film from the 40s resembles the forest setting and singing animals of the American animation powerhouse. The key difference is this film is a little crazier than Disney and didn’t have much of a story to go with it.

Goldframe (Raoul Servais, 1969) – Hilarious tongue-in-cheek film about a filmmaker, Mr. Golframe, who must be the first to produce a film in 270mm. He attempts this by dancing off against his silhouette.

To Speak Or Not To Speak  (Raoul Servais, 1970) – What begins as a humorous piece of social commentary mohps into a straight-faced and blatantly political piece of propaganda.

Compartments Or “I Am Not A Monster” (Hannah Letaif, 2011) – Totally insane animation that grotesquely exaggerates everyday tasks. Will be repeated at the Late Night Bizarre session.


MIFF 2011 Film Review: THE FUTURE

7 Aug


I tried to get into see The Future on Wednesday 27 July but it was sold out in Greater Union 6 (which holds over 700 people) and the stand-by line was too long and so I went home. I tried my luck again on Monday 1st and was more successful. Again, it was playing to a packed house in Greater Union 6. On Tuesday 2 August I wrote this message on twitter; “Upon reflection: I did indeed hate The Future which I saw last night at #miff11. All of the other 735 viewers were wrong in liking it”. Since then I have listened to people defend the film in the form of various reviews and overheard conversations. One friend and I have had quiet the heated argument over it. Yet I stand by my original tweet and am refusing to back down!

The film is by Miranda July (whose other films I have not seen*) and is about 30-something couple Jason (Hamish Linklater) and Sophie (July herself) who, having decided to adopt a terminally ill cat (Paw Paw) realise they have thirty days in which to live the rest of their life before being saddled with responsibility. Both quit their jobs with Jason becoming a door-to-door representative of an ecologically-minded charity and Sophie trying, and failing, to film 30 dances of herself on YouTube- one for each day. Interspersed with this is the narration of Paw Paw who talks (IN THE MOST IRRITATING VOICE I HAVE EVER HEARD!!!) about the ‘darkness’ and being wanted.

Naturally both characters gravitate away from each other, seeking companionship (Jason’s is non-sexual, Sophie’s is) with other people. The real turning point of “this is a meh film” to “this film is wasting my time” was when Jason (all of a sudden!) can freeze time and talk to God. The consequences of this though turn out to be disastrous for him, for Sophie and for Paw Paw. And then, the film ends.

I don’t rate films in pictorial form (stars, a scale of 1-10 etc.) because I don’t think reviewers can sum-up a film in such a way and I think that people who read reviews should read the review and not look at rating but rest assured if I did do this, the pictorial rating would be low. Very low.

(*You don’t want to -ED)

SFF 2011: Susya (Short): Israel/Palestinian Territories

21 Jun


By Lukey Folkard, Sydney Film Festival Correspondent

Susya is an Israeli/Palestinian production shot on location in the archaeological site and ancient Jewish settlement of the same name, which until 25 years ago was a Palestinian cave village.

This rough, 15–minute short documents father and son, Mohammed and Nassir Nawaj‘ah, returning to see their home by way of purchasing tickets to the tourist site that now only remembers a Roman-era Jewish occupation. Documentary and activist filmmakers Dani Rosenberg & Yoav Gross spontaneously suggested and filmed this unfolding “Direct Cinema” piece in an afternoon and succeeded in capturing some powerful moments, revealing a story of loss and human rights violations.


SFF 2011: The Palace (Short): A Short Sad War Song

12 Jun

By Lukey Folkard, Sydney Film Festival Correspondent

One of the most impressive and ambitious Australian shorts I’ve seen at the SFF so far. Or ever.

Based on true events in Cyprus during the conflicts of 1974, a Greek-Cypriot family finds shelter in an abandoned Ottoman palace while a Turkish army sergeant, played by Kevork Malikyan (Midnight Express), leads two very different young soldiers from house to house.

The Palace is a strong 16-minute piece that looks big budget. It was filmed near the UN green-line that still divides the ancient city of Lefkosia, most of the props, uniforms and locations are the real thing, supplied by locals. Award-winning director Anthony Maras (Azadi, Spike Up) has had to be sensitive while filming in Cyprus as, even after almost forty years, memories of the events are still fresh and he treats both sides with human respect.

Great performances throughout – if you’re seeing any shorts this year make sure not to miss this one.


The Palace is also showing at 2:15 on the 18th of June at Sydney Film Festival 

SFF 2011: Bear (Short): Ouch!

11 Jun

By Lukey Folkard, Sydney Film Festival Correpondent

Local director Nash Edgerton proves with this little set-up that he can pull of another world-class shock.

Almost a sequel to his last short, Spider, Bear is an animal themed, bad boyfriend, comic strip that will wake you up like a macchiato, with a little blood infusion. I want to see what this guy does with an hour or two. The BIG moment was pulled off very convincingly and had me wondering how he could do it so cheaply. A very local short, from a very promising set of eyes.


DVD review: Cinema 16 – American Short Films

7 May

cinema-16Cinema16: American Short Films. Part of a series of short film compilations including European, World and British Cinema.

One of the presents I gave my  boyfriend for his birthday this year was a Fassbinder box set, as he had once remarked that he would like it if I gave him one of my favourite films as a gift (in this case, Martha). A week later he ordered each and every DVD in the newly released Cinema16 collection from JB HiFi, and all I could think was, ‘I wish I had given  you THAT for your birthday!’

I’ve just finished the American part of the collection, which I enjoyed thoroughly. What makes this set a particularly worthwhile purchase is the inclusion of illuminating and informative audio commentaries on each film. There are 16 great films included here so I have only gone into a few of them. There are also films by Maya Deren, Andy Warhol, Tim Burton and Mike Mills, to name a few. 


What really stood out to me was the essential simplicity of these evocative films. Mostly completed when the Directors were film students, they are often crudely made without professional use of sound or lighting, yet show a craftmanship and originality that overcomes technical and budget restrictions to create rich characters and stories. This is reinforced by the fact that many of the films feature non-actors such as the directors’ classmates to star in the films. Rather than giving the films an amateurish quality, this resourceful use of real people lends an unmistakable authenticity to the work. One last thing, there’s an overwhelming number of films set in NYC in this set. While it raises the question as to why there’s a distinct lack of  films included that were set in other parts of the USA, if you’re a fan of The Big Apple like me, you’re going to just love it! It’s all skyscrapers, Brooklyn street scenes, diners and Coney Island baby now.

Terminal Bar uses photos taken by the filmmaker Stefan Nadelman’s dad in his bartender days during the 1970s and early 80s. Using flash animation, Nadelman forms a unique narrative of the legendary New York bar’s regulars based on creative compositioning of black and white portraits and sound. 



Freiheit - George Lucas

Freiheit - George Lucas. In his first live action film Freiheit, the then student George Lucas deals with the meaning of freedom at the time of the Berlin Wall. The ghostly imagery of a young boy running through the forest to the sound of birds singing and machine guns firing gives a glimmer of insight into the early vision of a legendary filmmaker mastering the extremely simple means at his disposal.

Pennebaker with dylan on Don't Look Back

Pennebaker with dylan on Don't Look Back

D.A. Pennebaker’s Daybreak Express captures the beauty of the New York City subway in a free form visual poem whose life force is brought to the fore by the insistent locomotive rhythms of a Duke Ellington score and kaleidoscopic imagery that pulses with the beat of daily life in the big city. The result is a distillation of NYC’s transcendence of time through its continual trafficking of life and movement. This atmosphere is captured by one of the filmmaker’s influences, Ezra Pound’s two line poem, “In a Station of the Metro”:

The apparation of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

(I’d love to see someone transform the slow and dull tedium of Melbourne’s tram system into such an enduring and dynamic piece!)

In Alexander Payne’s Carmen, a modern hicksville re- interpretation of silent film comedy, a Spanish siren assails a moronic console operator with her beauty and becomes the central figure of his operatic Bizetian dreamings. It’s all hand-held petrol bowser ejaculations and slow-motion running across sand until reality sets in at the trailer home where our modern day doofus lives. 


The Discipline of D.E. - Gus Van Sant

The Discipline of D.E. - Gus Van Sant

One of the stand outs (and there are many) from this set is Gus Van Sant’s kooky The Discipline of D.E, based on a William Burroughs story. In this narrated instructional film we learn the principles of D.E, or “Do Easy”:  “Doing whatever you do in the easiest most relaxed way you can manage”.  The art of practising efficiency in everything you do (“how can you pilot a spacecraft if you can’t find your way around your own apartment?”) is explored in a comically deadpan, off the wall take on self-discipline and its ultimate useability through abstract images that pay homage to sources as diverse as DIY videos and spaghetti westerns.

In The Wraith of Cobble Hill, a down and out teenager, Felix,  is given the keys to look after the neighbour’s dog while the convenience store manager is on hiatus. After raiding the shelves for spam roast tv dinners, he forms an unlikely connection that breaks away from his experience of domestic neglect. Director Adam Parrish King’s film is a great example of the power of stop-motion to create dramatic, self-contained worlds for its characters. While imitating reality with precise timing and authentic writing and voices, the film manages to transform the world of the story into a series of dreamlike moments that would be out of place beyond their original setting.

For fans of Todd Solondz, Feelings is a melancholy, awkward, kind of twee student film that Solondz made in 1984 during his student days at New York University. Set on the beach at Coney Island, this grainy black and white testament to a young man’s heartbreak features Solondz himself in the starring role. Did I mention that the song in the film, ‘Feelings’ by Morris Albert, is also sung by Solondz? What an angel. (Video Below)

Lunch Date - Adam Davidson

Lunch Date - Adam Davidson

Adam Davidson’s formidable The Lunch Date depicts a middle class white American woman’s confrontation  with her own prejudices  played out over a meal with a homeless person at Grand Central Station. The interesting thing about this film is that although it addresses class and racial issues, the woman does not seem to learn from her mistakes; in fact at the film’s end she appears unchanged. This complex and humane film uses minimal dialogue, with each scene and action contributing to the telling of the story. Just as in real life, we learn about the characters’ attitudes by how they react to the people around them. The screenplay’s clever twist and reversal lead to an unforgettable resolution.

The Director chose black and white film so he could  make use of available light at Grand Central, providing a timeless atmosphere to a film that doesn’t waste a single second of screen time. The film went on to win the 1991 Academy Award Oscar for Best Short Film.


Anna Sutton.