Tag Archives: documentary

MIFF 2016: Lo and Behold, Reveries of the Connected World (2016)

Director: Werner Herzog
Featuring: Kevin Mitnick, Elon Musk, Lawrence Krauss, Lucianne Walkowicz


“Helloooo, my name is Werner Herzog”

An interesting, but scattershot documentary that is frustrating in that it covers a lot of ground across topics that are very deep like skipping a stone across the surface of a lake and barely covers any of them.

Topics such as artificial intelligence, game theory, interplanetary travel and others get the same time covered as quackery such as people being “allergic” to Wi-Fi.

It almost becomes a parody of a Werner Herzog as they have at least one quip from the director in each segment that the audience laughed at due to the director’s Teutonic dryness. Even Kevin Mitnick got a laugh after the director described him as a “Demigod of hacking” and then he appeared as a normal man.

The story of the family who were a victim of trolls was strange with the baked goods on the table and the woman claiming that an abstract concept was the manifestation of evil. People can do evil things a concept is not evil unless you apply it to do bad things.

The online gaming segment could have been a documentary of its own, I did like Tom running across the rope bridge and the director saying “no need for a further introduction, that was perfect” also Werner wanting to talk to Chloe about her online characters to which she went “MAH TRIGGERS!” and refused. He did seem genuinely disappointed of not getting to discuss dark elves.

I am not really the audience for this as I know a lot about the internet having been on it for 20 years and have studied aspects of it in detail. As a popular surface-level documentary on the internet this show do fine. It does ignore that the main purpose of the internet was to connect people and technology was only part of this.

MIFF 2016: Kedi (2016)

Director: Ceyda Torun

Despite trying to be good and rescheduling a session from the previous night I still did not get to bed until quite late the previous night so I kept nodding off during this documentary but hopefully managed to see most of it.

The story covers the cats of Istanbul that do not have owners in the traditional sense more that they are the responsibility of the community and the cats themselves decide who they are going to adopt and they tend to have right of way to come and go as they please.

I have heard of some cats adopting people other than their owners in Australia and people paying the vet bills and looking after other people’s pets but not on this scale where it seems to be part of what is expected to be part of the community.

If you like cats at all I would recommend this documentary as the cats have different personalities such as the “neighbourhood psychopath” who would not let her “husband” have even a tiny grain of cat food. The “milk thief” who turned up to as a tiny kitten on the roof and now rules the roost and a cat that swatted at a customer trying to sit on a chair and now sits by her window with his paw raised until she lets him in.

There are several examples of people feeding carts en masse such as cooking 20kg of chicken per day for a bunch of cats and one man who used feeding stray cats as a method of treatment for his mental illness and now it is his life to look after the cats.

There is also some coverage of why cats are so important in Turkish society including the sewers being built that attracted rats and every house had to get a cat. Also Istanbul being a world shipping hub meant that a lot of cats jumped ship from all over the world and ended up living in the city.

This documentary sold out both its screenings at MIFF and got an encore screening that will probably sell out. Hopefully it will get a local screening in the future or DVD release as it should be very popular.

MIFF 2016: Meal Tickets (2016)

Director: Mat de Koning

Featuring: The Screwtop Detonators, Dave Kavanagh, Nici Ward, Will Stoker, Matt Doust

While I had seen and photographed the Screwtop Detonators a couple of times (1) (2) but I never really followed them closely as there were a lot of bands that I was seeing at the time and still do as it can be years in between seeing some bands for me. The Bittersweet Kicks were active around the same time in Melbourne and I ended up seeing them more as they played at my local a lot more (until they got banned for good with the help of Spencer P Jones, but that is another story).

Screwtop Detonators 2008

Screwtop Detonators 2008

I am not close friends with the band members, but some of them are on my friends list on Facebook whatever that concept means these days. I will try not to let that influence my judgement on the documentary too much but having someone I know in it is different than just someone I know making the documentary.

The director was originally friends with the band and just started hanging out and filming them as something he did. Must have had a good video recorder as I did not have any decent video recording capability until I got an SLR with it inbuilt until 2011 and I had just been taking photos for around the same amount of time.

As happens in a lot of times with new bands you get someone wanting to act as their manager in this case Dave Kavanagh who thought he could use his connections and talent to make them into a big name. You cannot doubt that he was sincere about it but a lot of time when someone offers to help it is more for something they will get out of it than you will.

The band does get one US tour out of it with a lot of dates and a good experience. I would not have liked to be the members of the band watching themselves at the screening seeing the stuff they did and said 12 years ago as it would have been extremely embarrassing.

What also happened on their first tour is their roadie decided to leave the tour as it wasn’t working out for him as he was a shit roadie. He turns up later in his own band Will Stoker and the embers and even the promo photo for this doco is of his band.

As happens with a lot of bands they decided to move to Melbourne to make a go of it on their own, which meant dumping Dave as their manager. While Melbourne is good for the gig opportunities, it also means you have a lot of competition. I was well aware of them during that time but only saw them a couple of times while they were active in Melbourne.

Nici Ward, the partner of Ben from the band is also a musician but that was not shown in this documentary. They did manage to find the exact clip that demonstrated how level headed and sensible she is. It could have made an interesting counterpoint including her musical endeavours as the women in music I know do not tell do fall into the bullshit of having to live the rock and roll lifestyle to prove themselves and then end up dying of cancer in their 50s or drinking beer through a hole in their neck.

Nici Blue Eyes 2008

Nici Blue Eyes the day after my birthday 2008

Most of the bands I know have to have another job to support their musical career as Australia is just too small. Bob Log III may live in Melbourne but has to tour most of the year overseas. Don Walker struggles to sell tickets in regional RSLs while the Cold Chisel cover band down the road sells out.

I do know that Nici worked hard in the crepe stall including on Black Saturday when she was outside. Ben and the other band members would have worked just as hard in other jobs and also trying to make a go of it with the band. So I understand their decision to break up the band and for Ben and Nici to move back to Perth.

There is a resolution with Ben Ward now being in a band called Leeches, some of the other members moving onto other projects and the one member who stayed in Melbourne playing in a few bands. Will Stoker is still performing but has not played a gig for a while.

The Q&A after the screening had the director and some of the members of the band including some who had not seen each other for 11 years.

Editing the film was a massive undertaking due to having 700 hours of footage and when the director finally decided to knuckle down until it was finished took another four years.

I can’t remember many of the other questions but Will Stoker said he did not regret anything that he did that was shown in the documentary.

It does make me think more about doing something myself in terms of a documentary. I have enough photos of bands after 12 years of taking photos of Melbourne. I will be contributing to the Fred Negro documentary coming up. I don’t really have the finances to start anything at the moment or a subject.

I would recommend this documentary to all new bands starting out to see what you will go through if you want to stick it out in a band for a significant part of your life.

Q&A at Kino Cinema at MIFF 2016 5/8/16

Q&A at Kino Cinema at MIFF 2016 5/8/16

MIFF 2016: Monsieur Mayonnaise (2016)

Director: Trevor Graham
Featuring: Mirka Mora, Phillipe Mora, Georges Mora, Marcel Marceau (archival footage), Hitler (archival footage)

https://www.facebook.com/monsieurmayonnaise/

In this documentary we follow Phillipe Mora as he retraces the history of his family through World War II and before while painting the scenes for a graphic novel about his families’ experiences and finding out things he never knew before.
During the Q&A after the film the director said he did know some of the things that Phillipe was going to find out beforehand, but he wanted his genuine reactions on film when he found out things so he did not tell him exactly what to expect.

Mirka Mora is also interviewed throughout the film and reveals some surprising things about why she paints a lot of ducks and birds (phallic symbols) and the significance of fences in her works that they represent the people left behind in the camps after she was rescued.

Phillipe Mora’s film career is covered including his debut at Cannes that caused a commotion for “humanising” Hitler with colour close up footage of him sourced from the CIA archives. I knew that he had directed the Howling III and Mad Dog Morgan with Dennis Hopper but not the other movies.

There are some very touching scenes with Phillipe meeting one of the children rescued by his father and the daughter of the family who sheltered his mother’s family during WWII. As he said he had to make the film as the original witnesses were starting to get thin on the ground.

When the story gets into Phillipe’s fathers work with the French Resistance it is also very interesting as it turned out Georges Mora worked with Marcel Marceau on some operations involving rescuing children from the Nazis. While they may have had differences in their mayonnaise recipes, their work with the children was never in doubt.

Marcel Marceau was Phillipe’s godfather and a frequent visitor of the family when they were in Australia. Phillipe thought he was a “weirdo” when he was younger due to him wanting to rub the left over olive oil all over himself whenever they had a salad. He did get to know him when he was older and they became good friends.

I don’t actually know when the graphic novel featured in the story is coming out as it is not mentioned in the documentary or during the Q&A afterwards. I am sure it will do very well when it is released.

There was a question of how Mirka Mora’s family was released from the camp when only 100 other people managed to be released. The answer was the French resistance was involved falsifying documents and also the Nazi officials where receptive to bribes.
This was a really enjoyable and interesting documentary about a family I had heard a lot about but didn’t really know their history. As Phillipe and the director said they had wanted to make a story together on the topic before, but didn’t want it to be so serious you would come out of the experience depressed.

The screening I saw it at was the world premiere with a lot of the family in attendance including Mirka Mora who got a lot of applause for yelling out and waving her bouquet around.

It was quite a shame that this documentary did not get a presale into television in Australia and had to be backed by a TV station in France, but they recognise the importance of their history.

MIFF 2015 – The Look of Silence (2014) with Q & A

Director: Joshua Oppenheimer

In this companion documentary to the Act of Killing, Adi, whose brother was killed in the Communist purges in Indonesia during 1965 confronts the killers responsible for his brother’s death in an effort to get them to apologise or at least admit their guilt.

How Adi manages to keep it together in the face of such shocking admissions from the killers is nothing short of extraordinary and he is also threatened at times as his questions are seen as too deep and probing.
I would recommend watching this if you have seen the Act of Killing or even if you have not but be warned there are some brutal descriptions of the killings by the people who carried them out and the behaviour of some of the killers is even worse.

From the Q&A Joshua Oppenheimer said they started filming with Adi and the survivors first, but after three weeks the army threatened them and they had to shut down.
It was the survivors who suggested that they film with the perpetrators of the killings as they were open to talking about it.

As it turned out this was a good idea as the perpetrators boasted of the killings and after filming interviews with 40 people, Anwar Congo was the 41st person filmed and turned out to be the main protagonist of the first film.
Joshua thinks that the boasting and guilt are related and the killers are putting on a performance when they describe the killings as they do not merely recount what happened.

Adi watched all the footage that Joshua sent him over the seven years while making the first movie.

Joshua gave Adi a camcorder to record a video diary, one thing that Adi filmed ended up in the Look of Silence.

It was decided by Joshua to make two movies way back in 2004, one with the perpetrators and the other with the victims.

It was Adi’s idea to meet his brother’s killers, Joshua was against it as he did not think it would be safe.

Adi said he wanted to do it as he did not want his children to live in a “prison of fear” as his parents had done. The footage he shot that appears in the movie shows the day his father was too far gone to be able to conquer his fears as his mind was gone.

The film was shot in the months before the Act of Killing premiered in 2012. While the first movie covers Indonesia-wide killings, the second movie focusses on one village in Northern Sumatra.
Joshua did not think they would get to finish filming after the first film came out and he was waiting for them to be shut down.

Q – What happened to Adi?

A – The Act of Killing led to a change of attitudes in Indonesia so the killings are now regarded as a genocide and not covered up. Although Joshua cannot return to Indonesia, Adi and his family remained but moved to another part of the country. He has since opened an Optometrist and there are people monitoring his safety. He has not received any death threats but Joshua continues to.

There is still too much corruption in Indonesia and it is a democracy in name only according to Joshua Oppenheimer.

Q – Is there a truth and reconciliation commission? What is the role of other countries?
A – The International Criminal Court (ICC) cannot try the cases as they happened before it was set up.
There could be a special tribunal set up by the UN Security Council but several countries that supported Indonesia in the killings have veto power and would not agree to it.
A senator saw the film and is moving a resolution to get the files in the USA involving the support of Indonesia at the time declassified. There is a petition to support this resolution.
Major corporations used slave labour from people detained around the time of the killings.
The USA provided the radios used to organise the killings and a list of names.

Q – What about West Papua and the involvement of corporations?
A – The film takes place in Northern Sumatra. There was no need for other massacres in other parts of the country as people were scared into silence. Atrocities are still being committed by the militias and supported by the Army.