Thursday, June 15, 2006

Sydney Film Festival report - week 1

Things kicked off well with the festival opener, Rolf De Heer’s Ten Canoes. A fantastic little film; beautifully shot in colour and black and white made with the help of the people of Ramingining; Ten Canoes is a million miles from grubby nightmares of Bad Boy Bubby. Starring Jamie Gulpilil and narrated by his father, the legendary David Gulpilil, the actors speak in their native indigenous tongue. The cinematography by Ian Jones is breathtaking and the humour the aboriginal stars bring to their roles is thoroughly engaging. How kidnapping, sorcery, revenge and canoe building fit onto the story you’ll have to wait and see but this is delightfully entertaining cinema that treats its subject matter with the utmost of respect.

Hard Candy, the directorial debut by David Slade was amazing. Uncompromising, unflinching and unrelenting in its vision of revenge and mental torture, the film grabs the audience from its opening seconds and never lets go. What’s truly special about the film is how little Slade actually shows, the audiences imagination is left to run wild. The performances are excellent, in particular Ellen Page, an actress whose young years belie an amazing talent, definitely a face to watch in the future. Highly recommended.

Starfish Hotel was a bit of a disappointment, with talk of David Lynch and Donnie Darko influences I had high hopes but all we got was a man walking around in a bunny suit. Probably a bit harsh but this beautifully put together film had some serious pacing issues. Unlike Nicholas Winding Refn’s Pusher and With Blood on My Hands – Pusher II; two excellent thrillers that formed part of the festivals Danish spotlight. Can’t wait for the third instalment next week. I also hear from good authority that Adam’s Apples delivered the goods.

The two screenings of Michael Frank's Ra Choi proved very popular so thanks to everyone who attended. We had people in tears at the box office at the sold out Sunday screening. Those lucky enough to get into the Dendy Opera Quays also saw two excellent Q&A sessions when Frank was joined by associate producer Milli Howson and cast members Nammi Le Benson, Nina Karen Fernandez and Paul He.

A huge surprise was Little Miss Sunshine; a fabulous little comedy about a family struggling to get their daughter to the Little Miss Sunshine beauty pageant. Toni Collette, Greg Kennear and Steve Carell all give delightfully performances in this hilarious and moving look at a dysfunctional family with an even more dysfunctional Volkswagen van. The feel good movie of the Festival!

1 comment:

Sydney Film Festival Go-er said...

I have attended the Sydney Film Festival 3 years running, and this year is the Best Yet! Lynden Barber (the SFF Artistic Director) has done such a wonderful job of picking such a wide range (country and budget) of fantastic pieces of celluloid for Sydney-siders to see.