Tag Archives: miff2015

MIFF 2015 – Gulpilil Shorts

Crocodile Dreaming (2007)

Director: Darlene Johnson
Starring: David Gulpilil, Tommy Lewis, Richard Birrinbirrin, Mary Dhapalany, Frances Djulibing, Jamie Gulpilil

An important ancestral stone gets thrown into a billabong leading to one of the local crocodiles being angered. This crocodile kills the daughter of the man who threw it. He offers to help, but the elders reject his offers and ask his brother (Gulpilil) to help even though he is away living with the white people and a famous actor.

The film is based on the dreaming of David Gulpilil’s mother. The director originally met the actor while working on Rabbit Proof fence and the story was originally meant to be about a troublesome crocodile and involve Steve Irwin, but David Gulpilil felt that story had already been made and he wanted to tell the story in his own words.

I enjoyed that there were spiritual and other worldly elements involved in this movie, but they were more touches to the film and helped emphasise when something had a special significance such as the fire trail left by the crocodile, the flaming billabong, the glowing stone and the crocodile attack in reverse.

The acting was also great in this even from the extras who are acting like you would expect them to act in such a situation. Having seen Dark Age before this movie, the dialog for this film is much better and not corny.

Mimi (2002)

Director: Warwick Thornton
Starring: David Gulpilil, Sophie Lee, Aaron Pedersen

A yuppie (Sophie Lee) buys some Aboriginal art just as investment not caring about the story behind it. This comes back to bite her when she opens the cupboard the next day to find the painting of the fish is only bones having been eaten. The next day she finds her apartment messed up and the other artwork is actually a Mimi. In panic she rings her friend and asks if she knows a “real Aboriginal”. When the man arrives (Aaron Pedersen) the sight of the Mimi scares the shit out of him, but he agrees to help.

Ringing his grandad (David Gulpilil), he first has to put up with a torrent of abuse about pretending to be white but does agree to help if he gets a new fridge. Opening his new fridge he finds the foul-mouthed Mimi waiting for him. He throws it in a cave and walks away to it throwing rocks at him.

There is very little comedy based around Inigenous issues in Australia as it is a delicate subject as any non-indigenous person who would make a joke would be accused of being racist quite likely as they are not in the situation and do not understand the issues involved.

There is room for parody from people who do understand in both the art scene in that Indigenous art is seen as a set things and only certain things would sell and also people who buy the art without knowing the story behind the art and only seeing it as an “investment”.

The Rainbow Serpent (1975)

Based on the book by Dick Roughsey, David Gulpilil narrates the story of creation involving the Rainbow Serpent. While there is not really any animation in this film, the painted backdrops and sound effects do tell the story quite well.
I remember seeing this when I was younger but do not know if it is still available online. Schools used to have actual film reels these films were on.

Showing Melbourne to Maningrida (1973)

Director: David Gulpilil

David Gulpilil films his trip to Melbourne in 1973. Melbourne sure looked boring back then and very white. Lots more older buildings that have since been knocked down also.

There are segments of the film that are not in English but they are few enough that subtitles are not really needed.
I liked the part where David Gulpilil went to buy a suit since everyone in the city was wearing one and he looked like a cowboy. There was a part where he goes into a music store (Allans?) and tries out a guitar also.

This film was made when David Gulpilil was studying film at university.

An excellent time capsule of the era and it is good to see David Gulpilil looking relaxed and natural in a role. I still have to see Charlie’s Country and Another Country.

MIFF 2015 – Deathgasm (2015)

Director: Jason Lei Howden
Starring: Milo Cawthorne, James Blake, Sam Berkley, Kimberley Crossman, Daniel Cresswell, Delaney Tabron

Metal head Brodie (Milo Cawthorne) is forced to move to a country town after his mother is hospitalised and immediately feels isolated due to living with his churchy uncle and aunty and his cousin who treats him shitty.

It’s not all bad, he does meet Giles (Daniel Cresswell) and Dion (Sam Berkley) and at the local metal record store he makes friends with Zakk (James Blake) and they become metal brothers and form a band named Deathgasm.

Brodie has his eye on Median (Kimberley Crossman) who turns out to be already going out with his cousin, causing him much grief as he is very possessive and can’t stand anyone even looking at her.

The story really gets going when Zakk asks Brodie to go to a supposedly abandoned house where a legendary death metal performer is hiding out with the pages of a black metal hymn, they escape but the people looking for the hymn are still looking for it.

Having gotten the pages and ignoring the fact that they are adorned with Latin and pictures of Satanic rituals they decide to try and play the hymn, only stopping when he gets a bad feeling about it.

Brodie manages to translate the Latin on the pages, but due to being beaten up by his cousin and having all his stuff trashed he decides to go through with playing the full song, which is when all hell breaks loose.

The director who attended the screening read out a review of his film from twitter saying that the film was nothing but teenagers wanking each other off. “Aww! That was going to be my next movie, duelling palms!”

From the Q&A the director had a background in visual effects but decided to go the practical route as it was more visceral and has more of a presence when there were actual things that were there.

This did lead to problems for things such as the blood pump they used had to be manually pressurised and it took 20 minutes each time. A lot of the shots are the only one they got as they did not have the time. The movie was shot over 20 days of 10 hour shoots.

It was funded with not very much money, only $200,000 NZ as part of a competition to make a horror film when he submitted five different ideas and this is the one that was accepted. He hoped that it would not be as it was going to be the hardest to shoot.

Kimberley Crossman paid her own way to fly to New Zealand to be part of the film, she is one of the more famous actors involved in the film.

There were some issues with the casting, a week before shooting there was a totally different cast. The director did not agree with having an actor play Zakk who was in his mid 30s and had receding hair however.

At the moment the director want to make a more serious horror film, but all the offers he has had are for another movie like Deathgasm. He does hope to make a sequel to the movie in the future with more of a budget and much more blood and gore.
Some of the gore came from a metal musician in New Zealand who wanted to have a gore fountain in his front yard, but could not get it to work. Also the collection of metal t-shirts worn in the film are from the same person.

The drawings in Brodie’s notebook were made by a production designer and they do still have the book around somewhere.
There are 30 songs on the soundtrack from metal bands in New Zealand, Australia and overseas. The director says it is the most he has heard in any movie of its type. There will be a double album release of all the songs later in the year. They selected the songs to use by what would fit the scene.

The film was inspired by 80s horror films such as Rock’n’Roll Nightmare, Bad Taste (the director first saw it when he was 9) and other kids vs baddies films such as Goonies and Monster Squad.

The lightning effects were produced by a Melbourne visual effects company and are a tribute to those used in older movies. Also I remember Highlander having a lot of them.

If you are a fan of horror movies and metal music I would recommend this movie or even if you just like funny movies I would recommend this movie. It is very gory in parts but there is a lot of humour to go along with it.

Being a first time script writer most of the jokes are what you would expect and it does feel like teenage boy wish fulfilment but that is part of its charm.

I did get to see the audience going out from the 808 documentary before and then all the metal heads coming in to watch this movie at the festival, there were very few people who watched both.

With horror undergoing a renaissance it is interesting to see what a new director does with the genre, especially one where their background is in music and that is what the style of the film is based around. A lot of the metal songs talk about epic battles, but it is mainly left to your imagination to picture what these would be like.

I would like to see what a band like Barbarion would make if they had an opportunity to make their own movie.

MIFF – 808 (2015)

Director: Alex Dunn
Featuring: Damon Albarn, Afrika Bambaata, Phil Collins, Felix Da Housecat, Lady Tigra, Pharrel Williams, The Beastie Boys and many more

Having something of a passing interest in electronic music (I even went to a festival this year) and already knowing about samplers and other old school synthesisers I was interested in this documentary as it looked different.

As it turns out most of the documentary is taken up with people talking about the key albums that used the 808 and the impact it had on creating the rap and drum and bass scenes. Every rap song of not either has an 808 used on it or samples from one.
Even if you are not into some of the artists involved, they talk about working with the 808 and the creative process with such enthusiasm that you are carried along with it.

It is a sausage party in terms of musicians interviewed, but that seems to be the nature of the scene unfortunately.

Hearing from the original creator of the Roland 808 was also interesting as he said there is was a deliberate decision to use a faulty transistor in the machine to give its unique properties. Improvements in manufacturing meant they could no longer source the faulty transistors so there were only ever 12,000 units sold over the three years they were available. Supposedly in Japan they are more widely available, but their impact continues to this day.

I did like the interview with two of the members of the Beastie Boys being adorable old duffers trying to remember how the tape loop was recorded and breaking Snoop Dog’s brain in reminiscing about the 808. They also said the Suzuki Samurai should come with that drum machine installed.

I would recommend this documentary if you have an interest in the development of the rap genre or dance scenes or like hearing about the creative process of artists.

MIFF 2015 – Dark Age (1987)

Director: Arch Nicholson
Starring: John Jarrat, Steve Harris, Nikki Coghill, Cathy Pope, Max Phipps, Burnham Burnham, David Gulpilil, Ray Meagher

There was a killer crocodile movie released a few years ago that was similar to this movie, but I have not seen it. This movie has a lot of fans in the cult genre and the print screened at the festival was Quentin Tarantino’s personal copy.

The storyline is not that much different to any other killer animal movie with an initial attack being played down until there is one in broad daylight and all hell breaks loose. It is pretty graphic in this case with a young child being eaten in broad daylight.

If anything the response from the authorities was muted in this movie. If it had happened today the current government would have done everything bar nuking the crocodile to get rid of it, but they only care how much money they can dig out of the ground.

This movie did screen as part of the David Gulpilil retrospective, but he does not get to do that much in it apart from get ignored by people and a couple of action scenes.

Burnham Burnham gets a lot of corny dialog to deliver but still manages to maintain his dignity. I liked him more in the Howling III where at least he gets to be funny and take the piss on the native spiritual thing “no way I’m just gunna die!”
Another thing to appreciate in this movie is that is a rare chance to see a rare non-Home and Away performance by Ray Meagher, ya flamin’ mongrel!

Yeah, yeah John Jarrat is in it too, but he is a bit of a dork in it. The crocodile it quite well realised and they wisely keep it off screen for most of the running time except at the end.

It does say the film was shot on location in Cairns and Alice Springs, but you can see at least one pick up shot with the word “MARL-“ as in Marlo clearly visible on a building.

While I wouldn’t rush out and see this movie, it is $5 on the Umbrella entertainment website so if you are already buying a bunch of movies it would be easy enough to pick up.

MIFF 2015 – Daises (1966)

Director: Vera Chytilová
Starring: Jitka Cerhová, Ivana Karbanová, Marie Češková, Jiřina Myšková, Marcela Březinová, Julius Albert


I had been wanting to see this for ages but had been holding out until I could either see it on DVD or on the big screen. I am happy it turned out to be as good as I was expecting.

Two friends decide to be bad and live their lives as “parasites on society” by getting men to buy them dinner and then putting the men on the next train out of town. It happens over and over.

Between these scenes they go back to their apartment and do strangely artistic stuff like eating pictures of food, cutting the film with scissors so they end up in bits and setting small fires in the apartment to burn paper streamers.

The film is dedicated to people “whose main source of pain is the depiction of a messed up trifle” as it was banned for “depicting the wanton” on release due to the food fight scene.

It was interesting to see this with an audience but if anything the one I saw it with was a bit too accommodating, they laughed at every single scene.

I still enjoyed it though and was glad to have finally seen it. There is a Czech and Slovak film festival in my city that I may try to get along to in the future also.

MIFF 2015 – Fehérlófia (1981)

Director: Marcell Jankovics

A combination of several folk tales from Hungary where the Son of the White Mare of the title quests to find his brothers and do battle with the three dragons who were freed from the underworld when the doors were unlocked.

Although it is a fantasy story it is different to many of the traditional stories in that the character designs are unique. I have recommended this movie to other artistic people and tattoo artists to watch for inspiration as I had never seen anything like it.

The “dragons” are not what you would expect and they are called that in the subtitles, I suspect they are not really that at all. One is a giant three-headed stone statue with hanging balls, the other is a eight-headed tank and the final one is a 12 headed skyscraper complex.

The powers of the main character are legendary as are his brothers with them punching mountains to rubble and picking up an entire mountain and turning it on its side like it is nothing. I was a bit disturbed they never put it back though.
I did like the part where each of the three brothers got lowered down in the cauldron to the underworld and meeting each of the wives in the castles.

There is so much to look at in this movie it is hard to get bored and you could watch it over and over and find new things each time. I am not sure of the availability of this film on DVD. But it is on Youtube in bits if you are so inclined.

MIFF 2015: Animation Shorts Program

Yùl and the Snake
Director: Gabriel Harel

Yùl and his brother meet the local shithead to divide up the spoils after a bout of petty thievery. After some mistreatment, Yùl learns how to stick up for himself and a snake is involved.

I liked this even though it seemed a bit rough and ready. If the story and characters work well you don’t need much to help the characters come to life.

The use of the snake metaphor is a bit strange but it suits what the story was about.

Waves ’98
Director: Ely Dagher

A young man is bored in Lebanon one day when he sees a flash on the horizon. Going out on his scooter he finds a giant golden elephant and enters it to find himself in another world.

This was an interesting style of animation in that it was “composited” with traditional animation, photography and video. I know the Congress movie was disqualified from the animation category of the Oscars for including live action, but this should count surely.

The imagery in the fantasy land was suitably weird and clearly a lot of work has gone into the film.
I am not so sure of the statement the film was trying to make but it was good to go along for the ride.

Bush Mechanics
Director: Jason Japljarri Woods, Jonathan Daw

Based on the TV special and TV series this Claymation style animation short tells the story of a group of friends going back to country in their beat up old car only to have a mischievous spirit cause them grief, to which they responded with their bush mechanic techniques.

Made out in a community near Alice Springs and lovingly produced by hand this film has a lot of character and humour and you hardly even notice that it is not in English. I particularly enjoyed the part with the sign language when they were trying to find out where to find the kangaroo from the old man.

Hopefully this short will get a wider run on NITV and the ABC. I know that it was funded via Pozible so the supporters would have got their copies and it will do the festival run.

A Portrait
Director: Aristotelis Maragos

In a style that reminded me of the classic “La Linea” series, but with even more detail a single line tells the story of the film maker’s grandfather.

I know from my own drawing that when you have less lines to work with, you have to be more confident with what you are putting down.

The story ends up being surprisingly deep for the little that is shown on screen, as I said you would not expect so small a line to tell so much of a story.

Director: Fluorescent Hill

A strange creature is looking for its way home and is joined by other creatures, it eventually finds where they all are jumping off a cliff, but decides to just sit and enjoy the view.

A very strange animation that combines 8mm live action with computer animated figures, but it is blended so well it is hard to tell where one finishes and the other begins.

I am usually a bit down on computer animation, but when it is used like this it works quite well. There are still people doing interesting things with it outside of larger productions.

Director: Yorkiko Mizushiri

A very strange animation with simple line drawings and good forms does not really have a story to tell but it does have repeating imagery and a good soundtrack. From the trailer it seems there are harmonics on the soundtrack you need headphones to hear properly.

It was borderline experimental but this short just manages to stay within getting too annoying due to the interesting setting and things on screen.

Two Films About Loneliness
Director: William Bishop

A man tries to record a dating profile while next door a giant German hamster records a cooking show.

A very odd stop motion animation with unique character designs and I would like to see more films from this director.

I would watch the cooking show that the German hamster was producing.

It reminded me of some of the strange animations they used to show on the ABC back in the day between programs.

My Home
Director: Phuong Mai Nguyen

A young boy does not like his mother’s new partner, who turns out to be a giant bird and runs away. The bird rescues him but he is afraid his mother will turn into a bird.

I enjoyed the style of this animation as it says it was computer animated, but it looks more like it was painted.

Even with one of the main characters being a bird it still manages to tell a good story. The bird might not really be a bird, it is just the feeling some kids get when their parent gets a new partner.

I thought it was a funny and sweet film and would enjoy seeing more from this director.

Director: Daniel Gray, Tom Brown

In this very grimy and icky feeling short, Richard E Grant narrates a tale of dental loss and obsession.

It was surprising how the soundtrack combined with such simple imagery to make you feel so uneasy about where the story was heading.

There was the usual “twist” ending but the whole short was pretty twisted so it did not seem that big of a thing this time.

We Can’t Live Without Cosmos
Director: Konstantin Bronszit


Two best friends in Cosmonaut training are picked for the next launch. I won’t give away what happens but this is a very funny and sad short at the same time and does feel very Russian in its outlook.

I did enjoy the animation style and the setting of it being in a space training centre. Given the amount of accidents with the old USSR space program it is quite mild what actually happens.

There is quite a pedigree with old Eastern European communist animation, this short shows that there are still a lot of talented people in the field today from those countries.

Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and the Rose
Director: Brendan Fletcher, Del Kathryn Barton
With the voices of Mia Wasikowska, Geoffrey Rush, David Wenham
Music by Sarah Blasko


Based on a story by Oscar Wilde this very artistic story has every single frame that could be its own artwork being that it was painted by Del Kathryn Barton and based on a series of artworks she made based on the original story.

Quite a lot of famous Australian actors provided the voice talent and the soundtrack fits quite well with the story.

The character designs manage to be both beautiful and disturbing at the same time, being there seems to be something “off” with them in line with the artist’s style of painting.

A very unique animated short that no doubt will do well on the festival circuit.