Yesterday I presented my Melbourne International Film Festival wrap-up, and also gave room for some our regular Institutees to speak. Last up is the glorious Syms Covington (who normally lives here). He rants exclusively for The Outland Institute.
This year’s MIFF was an interesting one for me. It was the first time I had attended the fest in three years, having been stuck in Sydney town for that period, and also because I could directly contrast it with my experiences at SIFF about a month earlier. The two festivals are vastly different, and I have Richard Moore to thank for that. The Sydney Film Fest is strutting off in its own direction with its big blue prize, eyes firmly on everything but Australian film, while MIFF had the tenacity to not only program some of the best Aussie arthouse films around (as well as new genre surprises like The Horseman and Acolytes) but to devote a whole strand to the ‘drunken uncles’ of the Australian film industry – the ones the more ‘respectable’ contingent of the industry has been actively ignoring at the parties for years – the filmmakers who made what is currently being referred to by the trendy Tarantino-coined moniker of “Ozploitation”.
Indeed the Ozploitation bent of this year’s MIFF was the thing that pushed me over the edge to travel south. I’d had the opportunity to see Not Quite Hollywood previously at a closed screening, and fallen in lust with it. I was terribly excited by the possibility of attending opening night just to experience the film again in a room filled with not only the genre benders profiled in the film, but the very film industry snobs that had blacklisted many of these films originally. For me, the film and opening night shenanigans were well worth the trip down. The only thing that would have made it better was if there had been screens either side of the stage filming “reaction shots” – like at the Oscars – of the old snobs shuddering in their hush puppies and sensibly ironed fawn slacks. I am seeing it again with a crowd of industry folk at the AFI Awards Screenings night in Sydney, so hopefully someone will have acted on this idea by then.
I’d better reel myself in before this turns into an all out essay/rant. Not Quite Hollywood was the most balls-out fun I have had in a cinema since seeing Grindhouse in all its glory at the Chauvel. Son of a Lion was the best film I saw at the festival and is currently down as my fave Australian film of the year (I count it as Aussie). Men’s Group was even better on second viewing, as you get its rhythm more, and it really is one of those great Australian dramas, full of pathos without the violins. Dominic Dunne was interesting, although was more suited for TV than the big screen I felt. I loved all the Ozploitation films I saw; many of them were just good to catch on the big screen for the first time – Razorback being the only dull note. I couldn’t handle it on DVD so no idea why I thought the cinema would be any better.
As for the biggest negative, I’d like to add my two cents on the whole projection issue. I didn’t have the misfortune of actually going to Greater Union, but did find strange projection anomalies occurring at other screenings. It could have been the quality of the digital image but I found Dominic Dunne’s visuals uneven and overly grainy in parts (which I thought the state of the art digital projection would fix) and the Son of a Lion premiere at the Forum also had problems. This was particularly annoying as it was the first time the Pakistani actors, who had been flown out for MIFF (and BIFF etc.), had seen the film on a big screen, and there were some moments at reel/scene changes where the print would drop out of focus. Very annoying. I know almost nothing of projection though, so can’t really comment too much other than what it looked like from the audience perspective.
Okay that’s about it. Adios. Visit my blog dot com.
Got something to add? Of course you do. Add your comments here or on yesterdays round-up. Syms Covington’s blog can be found at http://symscovington.blogspot.com.