Filmfest is off and running, albeit with a bit of a slow start. I was reminded last night that a possible reason for some of the changes to the fest is that there is renovation work going on at the State Theatre building – this has meant less availability for daytime programming and may well have been responsible for the smaller number of films in the subscription programme. Maybe. Seems to be a few less familiar faces, though it’s hard to tell with a week night screening. I was reminded too that it gets bloody cold in the theatre, thankfully I’d taken my jacket just in case. We did a bit of an analysis of the breakdown by country ie where films are from and I reckon that close to a third of the 160 odd movies screening (across the total festival) originate from either Australia, the UK, or the USA. That figure does not bode for a diverse range of film or viewpoints.
There’s an iphone app this year (there was one last year too) though many screens, particularly the movie summaries, have almost half the screen devoted to an image with the text scrolling in the bottom half. Very poor use of space, particularly when there isn’t much space to begin with! Probably looks better on a bigger device. On the other hand, it appears to fully support ecommerce and downloadable tickets and QR codes – ie I’ve just logged into my account and was able to download my entire programme to the phone and there’s a QR code for each film. I think this means that if I lose my ticket, I can show them the QR code on the phone. Even without that, it lists my full programme though there doesn’t seem to be a way to get from my programme listing directly to information on the film itself (I need to go back to the main menu and look up the film there). Regardless, this does at least mean, I don’t have to carry the main programme with me. The user interface could definitely use some work but all the information I can think of so far is there.
First movie of the night was Attenberg, directed by Tsangari. This was from Greece and set in an old industry town that the director have lived for a few years. It’s told through the eyes of a 23 old lass who feels disconnected from the world and at the same time is facing the slow of her father. Fantastically acted, the performance of the main actress particularly was superb. The film itself I found a little slow and didn’t really grab me. In the sense of following the girl’s sense of alienation as well as coming to terms with death, and possibly a new life, there is a sense (as explained by the director) of an allegory to what’s happening in Greece. It’s suffered through a failed economy and its people feel alienated, though at the same time there is hope for new direction.
The second flick of the evening was Sing Your Song, directed by Rostock from the USA. A biopic, or rather puff piece, on the life of Harry Belafonte, the authorised version I suspect. Not to take anything away from the man himself, however this was a very uncritical piece charting not only Belefonte’s success as a performer but also his contributions to various human rights’ movements throughout the world including his own USA, South Africa and Haiti. Plenty of song excerpts via archival footage and lots of name dropping, seeing him in conversation with King, Mandela, Clinton and others. It felt a little like he had single-handedly led the revolution. He may well have been as significant as the film claimed but I don’t think this is the film to tell that story.