Tag Archives: melbourne international film festival

MIFF 2019: Memories of My Body (2018)

Director: Garin Nugroho

Starring: Muhammad Khan, Raditya Evandra, Rianto, Sujiwo Tejo, T. Rifnu Wikana, Whani Darmawan

Trailer

A young boy Juno (Muhammad Khan) is abandoned by his father in a central Java village and is looked after by a string of shithead adults until he finds his own way in the world. The stories are narrated by the adult Juno (Rianto) based on his real experiences and have some strange scenes of violence and surrealism.

The teenage Juno is played by Raditya Evandra and ends up working as a tailors’ assistant and falls for a fighter.

He ends up with a group of Lennger dancers in a remote village as they have been pushed out of the cities and only perform in the villages. A local political candidate wants the group to perform and takes a shine to Juno, wanting him to perform as special ceremony for good luck. The Wurok of the dance group decides to take Juno as his Gemblak, a young male lover giving magical powers.

The memories of my body refers to the trauma and violence of being human. All people have some trauma in their lives and there is always violence. “It’s just like life, you’ve got to take the funny with the tragic.”

From the director he said the movie was made in just two weeks. It is also banned in six cities in Indonesia and has a theatrical cut and a festival cut. There is an issue currently with Islam from the Middle East coming in to the country and winning out over the local beliefs.

Before September 11 there wasn’t the fanatical Muslim beliefs and there was even a LGBITQ Quran school before it was shut down by hardliners. There is a claim that LGBITQ is a western concept and did not exist in the country before, there are at least five gender on Java and on each island it is different.

There were not many questions from the audience, but there were good ones. One was about how LGBTIQ people are being treated as it used to be if they kept it secret they wouldn’t be treated badly. The director said there has been some incidents, but he wanted to open a discussion.

The dancer from the movie is doing a performance in Melbourne coming up so hopefully it has a lot of people attend.

I thought the movie was very well shot considering it was made in such a short time. It seems very naturalistic and the performances are very rough and unpolished. I did like seeing the same boom box that Juno carries around everywhere each time he moves.

The setting of the movie seems to be some-time around the 1980s but it does have the post-Suharto era included. A reference to the anti-Communist purge of 1965 is in the film also.

A great story and more of a character study and a big showy movie. Is perfect if you want something slower and more arthouse after the endless stream of superhero movies of the past few years.

MIFF 2019: No Time for Quiet (2019)

Directors: Hylton Shaw, Samantha Dinning

Featuring: LA Bastard, Courtney Barnett, Cable Ties, Sukhjit Khalsa, Girls Rock! camp participants

Trailer

I wondered why the audience seemed so excited for this movie when I was in the audience, it turned out that most of the participants of the Girls Rock! Camp over the past few years were in attendance along with their parents and the counsellors from the camp.

The film makers had heard of the Girls Rock! Camp for young teenage girls wanting to get into music was coming to Melbourne and manage to convince the people running it to film the first intake. They had done a pre-screening of the applicants to choose a couple of them and found a few others on the day as there were 50 people involved and it would have been too much to follow them all.

I am a big fan of music and in particular women musicians the point that I get made fun of for going to see them all the time. Fuck off! I like them more as they don’t have half the bullshit the men have with their bands and do not feel the need to live the infamous Rock and Roll lifestyle. A lot of them get better after they have kids as they have more experience. I have been seeing some musicians for so long now their kids have started their own bands.

Back to the documentary and they did choose some unique individuals such as Zeiro (pronounced Zero) who has their own thing going on and is gender fluid.  The concept is described for people who do not know what it is by Zeiro. That is a lot to put on a teenager and it is handled well.

Some strong themes are handled such as mental illness and suicide and they don’t shy away from discussing it.

The drummer got a big cheer by saying Alien was “that feminist movie” and Sigourney Weaver would agree with her.

During the Q&A Jacinta Parsons revealed that one of the participants in the documentary was her daughter, which bought cheers from the audience especially when she had to interview her.

There were some performances by Courtney Barnett, LA Bastard (I missed that gig it was their last one) and Cable Ties. The camp was structured around all the participants forming bands, writing a song and doing a showcase gig at the end of the week.

I did enjoy the animation throughout the documentary that showed some things that couldn’t really be filmed such as the voices one of the participants had in their head. Also Zeiro’s fears were illustrated about the plane crashing into the venue and everyone dying.

There was a strong positive vibe at the screening due to the participants being in the audience and cheering when they saw themselves on screen. I believe it should be shown in schools for young people wanting to express themselves in music.

After the screening there was a live performance downstairs with a supergroup named BARK with the five main participants from the movie who had written a song “No Time for Quiet” and rehearsed over the past month.

The film had been produced over three years and the film makers have come to know the participants very well and have become quite close. Two the people in the documentary are now volunteers at Girls Rock! And one is working as a sound tech in the music industry and playing in bands.

Photos from the screening Q&A/Afterparty

MIFF 2019: Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks (2019)

Director: Serge Ou

Featuring: Cheng Pei-pei, Sammo Hung, Cynthia Rothrock, Richard Norton, Billy Blanks, Brian Trenchard-Smith, JuJu Chan, Jessica Henwick, Mike Leeder, Don “The Dragon” Wilson, Michael Jai-White and many more

Trailer

Kung Fu demonstration before the premiere

 

I was looking forward to this documentary as I have been a fan of Hong Kong cinema and Kung Fu movies for a long time. I would not call myself an expert but I have had a site on them for almost 20 years (http://hkmovies.timchuma.com ) For a long time I did not know anyone else I could talk about them with, which is why I set up the site and the only other person I knew who had a movie review site said I should put them on my own site.

I had not heard of the director before and he is not on any of the discussion groups I am on even the one that actual film makers and writers read and post to. Some of the people interviewed in the documentary are though and that’s the main thing.

The documentary starts around the time of the riots in Hong Kong in the 1960s which is eerily prescient. The anger from society carried over into the cinema of the time and more violent cinema from Shaw Brothers studio was a result.

I would say about the first 25% of the film is about Shaw Brothers. It could have easily been a documentary on its own. (The author of a book on the studio wanted to go to the screening but could not make it.

As they say in the film the studio was focussed on making money and they were so successful in the 60s and 70s they were not used to being told no and were slow to change. Their subsequent rejection of both Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan was a result of this. They did try and change in the 80s towards the end of their run with some ground breaking works such as Demon of the Lute and the Boxers Omen but by then it was too late.

After Bruce Lee became famous there were was a flood of Brucesploitation movies and also a ton of Kung Fu films screened in Times Square “There were two genres: kung fu and porn!” Having a cheap form of entertainment easily accessible to young African American youth meant it became very popular amongst them and a lot of the films started screening in double bills with Blaxploitation titles. I wish they had have shown something from the Last Dragon as the theatre scene from that movie is on point.

The influence of the movies on hip hop and breakdancing is explored by one of the artists saying they studied the movies to learn the moves. The original Shaw Brothers movies were operas and comedies. There is a Journey to the West series of movies from the 60s were Pigsy sings about having “waist and shoulder pain”.

They did mention the films of Chang Cheh and had an appearance from one of the Five Venoms. It was very manly and the role of women was almost non-existent in his films which was quite different from Cheng Pei-pei’s work.

Cynthia Rothrock was a welcome addition to the film and I have seen both Yes Madam and Royal Warriors on the big screen. I had not heard of the one with the aliens. She and Richard Norton talked about how tough the stunt work in Hong Kong movies was.

Sammo Hung being hit by a car in Panty Hose Hero gets a mention as does the infamous car stunt with the little girl in Fatal Termination.

The transition into the star-based rather than film based movies with Golden Harvest is covered with the rise of Jackie Chan. No Stephen Chow though which is strange since he is a huge star in Asia (there is a very short clip of Forbidden City Cop.)

The handover in 1997 and the Asian financial crisis of the late 90s is covered and led to a lot of talent going over to Hollywood to find work. What truly brought Kung Fu into the mainstream is Yuen Woo Ping’s work on the Matrix film as he said he had to train the stars to fight for real.

There is a worldwide reach of Kung Fu reflected in countries that had their own martial arts styles releasing movies that had a big impact such as Ong Bak and the Raid.

I had not heard of them, but an Australian production team from Adelaide apparently makes a bunch of martial arts movies on Youtube. I thought Dick Dale would have screened their work?

The final movie covered is the Kung Fu movie shot in Uganda that they hope will inspire people who grew up in the same circumstances to make their own movies.

While it covers a lot of ground in a short amount of time, I thought the documentary was very informative and I found out stuff I did not even know after more than 20 years of watching Hong Kong cinema. Well worth a watch when it comes out near you.

Q&A panel

Q&A
L-R: Paul Anthony Nelson from Plato’s Cave on RRR FM, Serge Ou, Veronica Fury, Chris Bamford, Ross Boyask

As much as I can remember from the Q&A:

Q – on the cultural influence on Kung Fu

A (Serge Ou) It was originally meant to be just on the influence of Kung Fu in the west but they decided to go further into it. They also explored the link between Kung Fu and hip hop/breakdancing.

Chris Bamford: The film was plotted on 250 post it notes with over 5000 edits in the finished movie.

Q: How much fun was it to edit.

A: It was a dream project to work on. There was over 900 hours spent in the edit suite with still enough material to make it a 4 part mini-series dependant on rights clearances.

The director wanted to show the ferocity of the early kung Fu movies and how watching something like the Raid 2 or the Night Comes for Us today feels like it those early films back in the 1970s did.

Both the director and producer used to watch kung Fu movies on TV with their parents. Genre films are a way of exploring the culture.

Ross Boyask said his gateway films were through Revenge of the Ninja, Commando and American Ninja. Sho Kashugi, Jackie Chan then Bruce Lee.

The ninja movies are related to Electric Boogaloo as the ninja craze is explored in that documentary.

Audience questions

Q: Who didn’t you get?

A: They wanted to go in the side window, not the front door. Did not want the obvious choices for interviews or people who have been heard from before. There were 52 interviewees in the film.

 

Q to Ross: How would you go about making Kung Fu movies in Australia?

A: Just do it. Watch lots of movies and appreciate the differences. Most actors have some sort of martial arts training these days at least for fitness.

Q: Have you seen Once Upon a Time in Hollywood yet and what did you think about the treatment of Bruce Lee in it?

A: We have not. We hoped to honour Bruce’s legacy with the documentary.

Q: The person hates documentaries but liked this one. “Docutainment”

A: Thanks!

Q: Will Veronica make a movie?

A: The next project Veronica Fury will be working on will be “Cat Fight” about women fighting in films.

Q: How did you find out about all the cultural influences in the genre?

A: Serge was well versed in the world of kung fu movies. The stories may be simple but they have a universal message that carries across cultures.

Photos

Kung Fu crew Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration Kung Fu demonstration  
Kung Fu demonstration

MIFF 2019: WTF Shorts

Docking (2019)

Director: Trevor Anderson

A man explores his fear of dating and then GIANT SPACE DONGS

Not really much to this one except for a dick joke.

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Wet. Warm. Dribble. (2019)

Director: Aaron Petersen

A woman girls her heart to her lover, except this time she actually gives her heart. There is bloody spraying everywhere but the characters seem oblivious to it.

For the inevitable heartbreak the woman has to physically get back her heart from her lover who has carelessly put it on a side table.

This was a great funny short and got a good reaction from the audience. The director introduced it before the screening. I liked the actress in it and would see her in other roles.

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SHHHH (2019)

Director: Mordechay Jonathan

A mother gets her baby to sleep just as the father gets home. Things escalate.

Rang true with the mother throwing the tea towel directly at the father’s head. Not sure about the pissing in the soup bit but my dad did once spit beer over a cake as he thought it would be funny. Lucky it was the cake that ended up in the bin and not him.

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Mr. Mare (2019)

Director: Luca Tóth

A man finds out he has a parasitic twin poking out from his side, but awakes to find one day he is gone. The tiny man observes the man obsessively and ends up falling in love with the big man. There is a dog in the apartment but it is mainly a passive observer.

Nice lines in this animation and a great retro look.

This one got a lot of laughs with the absurd situations in the film.

Seemed to be some sort of allegory about AIDS with the man rushing out to get himself a woman to prove he wasn’t gay. The tiny man is unhappy with this and leaves.

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All Inclusive

Director: Jason Anderson

This short shows various scenes from a cruise ship.

This film played by accident as it was meant to be a totally different film in this slot. I was confused as to why this one was included in this session.

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The Procedure 2 (2019)

Director: Calvin Lee Reeder

A man gets kidnapped and wakes up strapped down in a room with a speculum in his mouth.

Seems like a lot of trouble to go to for a fart joke.

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The Little Soul (2019)

Director: Barbara Rupik

A small figure emerges from a decaying corpse and begins walking. Everything goes strange and a Hieronymus Bosch landscape appears.

Very organic looking stop motion animation, always moving and very wet looking.

Unsettling to look at but still a compelling watch.

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Please Speak Continuously and Describe Your Experiences as They Come to You (2019)

Director: Brandon Cronenberg

A woman with a strange device on her head gets experimented on. She describes her experiences and they become real. It always ends with her being in hell. Not really sure if she is still in a dream at the end.

A well put together horror style short that proves you do not need many locations or even people to do things. I do like the practical psychedelic optical effects with repeating images.

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Slug Life (2019)

Director: Sophie Koko Gate

“I’ve got tits from space and an ass from hell!”

Set in the future, a woman prints her ideal boyfriend on a 3D printer.

Reminds me of early 2000s flash animation. Very unique character designs and animation.

The sun says hello to everyone.

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Piggy (2018)

Director: Carlota Pereda

Sarah has all her clothes stolen by some bullies at the pool and has to walk home in her bikini. The man she saw in the pool offers her back her clothes in exchange for ignore what she saw in his van

Very disturbing and hard to watch in places like the bullying scenes and the hoons abusing the main character on the road.

MIFF 2019: Animation Shorts Program

Dance of the Dead (2019)

Director: Scarlet Sykes Hesterman

A bunch of animals lovingly made in felt lie in a display case. They all are extinct Australian mammals from the last 200 years. A new dead animal is wheeled in and the spirits of the extinct animals rise from their bodies to dance in the air and raise the new arrival’s spirit.

This was the graduation film from the director and it looks great. The felt animals were all made by different people and the animation of spirits works well with the stop motion of the felt.

There are 15 animals that are extinct that are show in the short and they are listed in the credits. The new animal is the first to become extinct from climate change in Australia. It was last seen in 2009 and only officially listed as extinct in 2019.

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The Grave of St Oran (2019)

Director: Jim Batt

Writer/Narrator: Neil Gaiman

Two men arrive on an island to build a church, which keeps falling down. Troubling dreams plague one of the men who has visions of himself killing the man and burying him in the foundation to keep the church falling down. Heresy is spoken and the church still stands to this day.

This short is based on a poem by Neil Gaiman who also narrated. It took six months to film with paper cut-out style animation and practical in-camera effects such as the flickering for the fire. Producing the movie took several years and was funded via Kickstarted.

I enjoyed this animation as it had a storybook feel to it with the drawing and animation fitting a picture book come to life.

Even though there is just the narrator you do feel the other character’s voices and the overall theme is good.

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Rules of Play (2017)

Director: Merlin Flügel

Mysterious figures in pink jumpsuits in strange landscape that turns out to be a playground. They have strange rituals to learn how to play on the equipment and various games that end of more esoteric.

Nice hand-drawn style animation with bold lines and geometric shapes. Only a few colours such as a pink jumpsuits but they work well and there was a lot of laughter from the audience.

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Reneepoptosis (2018)

Director: Renee Zhan

Mini Renees explore the world of Renee with orders not to eat themselves, but they do anyway.

Very nice hand drawn animation for the figures and painted backdrops.

There are many strange creatures and landscapes based on Renee.

All the sounds of the creatures are made by Renee and the dialog is from Renee.

Kind of hits you over the head with the metaphor, but still good none the less.

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Pulsión (2019)

Director: Pedro Casavecchia

In a series of scenes a young boy has a childhood trauma and become a disturbed adult.

It looks like a model of each scene but seems to be rendered in CGI, very well done and moody.

Disturbing tone and some supernatural elements in the story help sell this one. It was hard to watch in some places.

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Intermission Expedition (2010)

Director: Wiep Teeuwisse

Tourists in pastel clothes on holiday to strange landscape when foam appears and then keeps appearing, including erupting from a volcano, washing everything away.

Nice hand-drawn animation with good line work and complimentary colours on the outfits of the tourists.

Did not have any dialog but still managed to tell the story well.

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The Hunt (2018)

Director: Mateusz Jarmulski

A young boy goes hunting with a bow and arrow and tape recorder, he stalks a dog who then tracks him. He ends up going for a swim and hides from the dog, but something bad happens. Does not really have an ending.

Great digital painted style animation with bold colours.

Is some symbolism with the church scenes and the skull turning giant for some reason. Never worked out what the tape recorder part was about.

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And Then The Bear (2019)

Director: Agnès Patron

A young boy’s oedipal complex explained including a cowboy and a bear.

Great animation with chalk on black paper. What is missing suggests form more than if it was drawn. Of all the shorts I would buy frames of this one to put on my wall.

How to draw a cowboy:

  1. Draw a cowboy hat
  2. Draw the lit cigarette

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Daughter (2019)

Director: Daria Kashcheeva

The relationship of a father and daughter explored.

Stop motion animation using roughly constructed puppets, but there is a ton an emotion conveyed with no dialog.

This short had the most pathos out of all the shorts in the program.

Even though you know the puppets are not real they seem very alive.

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Entropia (2019)

Director: Flóra Anna Buda

Self-exploration in a psychedelic landscape with many strange creatures.

What is this a Frankie cover? I swear I have seen this style of art somewhere in their publication or related publicity before.

It all ends with lesbians because of course it does.

MIFF 2019: Present.Perfect. (2019)

Director: Shengze Zhu

Trailer

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=53SePKpKyNE

I was interested in this documentary as I have been a fan of Twitch streamers since the infamous stream back in 2012 that produced the ChkWhaleRoy incident and have since followed Beaglerush playing XCOM to the point where he caught the attention of the game developers and cheesed XCOM 2 so hard in front of the project head that they had to make changes to it. There is also a community that develops around these streams and I have been gifted a subscription two times by users who were handing them out by the dozens.

This documentary is different in that it follows some of the random “anchors” as they are called who are among the 422 million streamers who stream their everyday lives each day in China. There is talk of new government laws coming into effect in 2017 but it was only about 1000 or so accounts that closed.

The streamers shown are not gamers but rather just talk about their lives, do farm work, drive a building crane “I’m fucking bored!” or are sewing underwear in a factory.

This was always going to be on a hiding to nothing after coming off a Werner Herzog documentary just before it. There is no context at all apart from the title card and no narrative. There is more story watching Penny Underbust on stream playing Beat Saber.

I wanted to leave during it as a lot of people were doing but was blocked in by other people. Nothing to see here, move along.

MIFF 2019: Meeting Gorbachev (2018)

Directors: Werner Herzog & Andre Singer

Featuring: Mikhail Gorbachev, Yuri Andropov, James Baker, Leonid Brezhnev, Konstantin Chernenko, Raisa Maximovna Gorbacheva, Miklos Nemeth, Vladimir Putin, Ronald Reagan, Horst Teltschik, Margaret Thatcher, Lech Walesa, Boris Yeltsin

Trailer

I always like to see a Werner Herzog documentary at the festival and thought his last one about the internet was not really up to his standard. Even though it is about Gorbechev, it is clear who is in charge as Werner talks of being “summoned” by the subject to complete the interviews required for the documentary also the mentions of how Gorbechev has clearly done his research into the film maker and knows what sort of questions he will ask.

The very first question Werner asks is assuming that the first German Gorbechev met would have wanted to kill him. Gorbechev flips the script by saying his neighbours on his family’s farm were German. Werner Herzog insists he is not Mikhail Gorbachev’s “buddy” even though they use first names in the film.

Was a bit much Werner Herzog calling Gorbechev’s home town “God forsaken” but you would expect that sort of thing by now.

As they describe in the documentary the USSR was crumbling by the time Gorbechev finally came to power and the succession of identical funerals for former leaders shows this but I am not sure it was necessary to show all three.

There are a lot of clips of former leaders shown from the time period including Margaret Thatcher speaking on nuclear weapons. Gorbechev disagrees with her views and says she goes too far. Was a comment from the audience “Margaret Thatcher is the perfect villain in everything I have seen her in.”

Interestingly there is a sequence from another documentary, Gorbachev. After Empire released in 2001 by Vitaly Mansky. I remember watching this on SBS TV in Australia specifically his old blind auntie crying and saying “My Misha!”

The documentary tells the story Mikhail Gorbachev and how he transformed himself from a simple farm boy to the leader of one of the largest nations on earth and was loved by the people as he would go out onto the street to talk to them. Would be hard to imagine Putin doing that these days.

You can see the bandage on Gorbechev’s hand in some scenes as he had to be delivered from the hospital as he really wanted to finish the film.

An excellent documentary and hopefully it will get a wider release after it finishes the festival circuit.

Bonus Q&A with Werner Herzog at TIFF

In conversation with Werner Herzog at TIFF

Gorbachev. After Empire (2001) | Vitaly Mansky

MIFF 2019: Amazing Grace (2018)

Director: Sydney Pollack

Featuring: Aretha Franklin, James Cleveland, Southern California Community Choir, C.L. Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Bernard Pretty Purdie, Chuck Rainey, Mick Jagger, Charlie Watts

Trailer:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ypHZbtqSU48

“A WILD MICK JAGGER APPEARS!”

The long lost concert/TV special/video record of the recording of Aretha Franklin’s 1972 Amazing Grace gospel album was looked forward to by many and for good reason. I had known a bit about the artist before seeing this film but not that she could also play the piano as I had not heard that mentioned before.

They briefly touch on that the film was recorded for a possible TV special but technical problems kept it from being released. You do hear mention of water being spilled on a console during the recording at one point.

The film is divided into two nights two the first night being the first album in the double set and the second being LP two. As they said at the start of the show they would need several takes so I have no idea who long each song took to record. It does make sense seeing the head of the church sweating so much after two songs if they had already done it multiple times.

The choir was great dressed in silver vests and black threads and the audience seemed to be dressed up for the show too. It was the 70s but those clothes are still great.

The second night seems to be when word gets around as the space is full of people and even a couple of famous people tried to sneak in up the back (CRASH ZOOM ON MICK JAGGER).

Aretha’s father gets up to make a speech during the second night which does go quite well as he talks about her time in the church and that she never left it.

If I had to pick I would say the first night was my favourite in terms of songs and performance and less zooming in to Mick Jagger at random.

Some of the camera choices were odd but it is good you can see the mechanics of one of these films for once as you can see a camera operator moving into shot and then it switches to their footage. Less footage of Aretha Franklin’s nostril please.

It is a great concert film and deserves a wider audience.