Sunday, May 24, 2009

Bits and Pieces

St. Kilda Short Film Festival
Generally, I'm not big on short films. Partly it's because the shortened format doesn't allow the development of a story in the way that a longer film does. And partly it's because I overdid it at the St. Kilda Film Festival ten years ago. At the time I was self-employed and managed to get to 13 of the 17 competition sessions. By the time the week was up, I was pretty much over it. The repetitiveness of many of the films really drove home that there's not a whole lot of originality out there.

But that was then, and seeing that number of sessions doesn't do justice to the medium. In moderation, and with more careful selection, short film can be a very rewarding experience. Take the Thornton shorts at the Nova on Thursday, for example. That's something I'd be happy to see again. Others I've seen relatively recently have also impressed, like Nash Edgerton's Lucky and Spider, and Julius Avery's Jerrycan.

I've since returned to the St. Kilda Short Film Festival on occasions, generally to see the touring programs. I don't write off the local competition sessions, but I think you need to be selective and don't over-do them. The touring programs - this year there's four of them - are usually the best of other festivals. The quality has been distilled and there's usually an awesome variety.

The festival is on this week and while I'd like to see the Mexican program, it conflicts with the Melbourne Cinémathèque start of the Japanese noir season, which takes precedence. Wednesday is also the Cinémathèque AGM (6.40pm), so if you have an interest in Melbourne Cinémathèque, come along.

I will, however, be making a point of seeing the German shorts (from the InterFilm Berlin Short Film Festival) screening this Friday at 7.30pm, the French shorts (from the Clermont-Ferrand Short Film Festival), screening Saturday at 6pm, and the Confrontations selection, international films against violence and intolerance from the 2008 InterFilm festival, screening Sunday at 4.30pm.

There's 100 local short films in competition, and other sessions as well. The festival runs from Tuesday 26 - Sun 31 May. It opens at the Palais theatre and other sessions are at the George cinema. Check the official website for more details.

Melbourne Cinémathèque
As mentioned above, this weeks sees the start of a three-week season of Japanese noir, kicking off with the much-anticipated (by me, at least) Takeshi Kitano debut, Violent Cop (1989) and Pale Flower (Masahiro Shinoda, 1964), continuing next week with Black River (Masaki Kobayashi, 1957) and Sun's Burial (Nagisa Oshima, 1960), and finishes with Pistol Opera (Seijun Suzuki, 2001) and I, the Executioner (Tai Kato, 1968).

MIFF Opening & Closing Night films announced
You've probably read that the MIFF bookend films have been announced. Both are MIFF Premiere Fund projects and these will be world premieres. Opening the festival will be Robert Connolly's Balibo, a story about five Australian journalists who were killed on the eve of the Indonesian invasion of East Timor. Closing the festival will be Rachel Perkins' Bran Nue Day, a musical. The Melbourne International Film Festival runs from July 24 to August 9.

Portable Film Festival
On the subject of MIFF, they have a new competition, and this is their information:
Portable Film Festival wants you to get a little critical. To celebrate the launch of the Melbourne International Film Festival 2009, Portable is launching the Everyone’s a Critic competition in association with MIFF!

What you need to do from now till July 6th 2009 is to create a 30 second clip involving the line “Everyone’s a critic.” There are no genre, format or production limitations- they just have to be your great ideas put into 30 seconds! Now get critiquing!
For more information; visit

ACMI First Look - Overlord
From ACMI:
ACMI Cinemas Presents
FIRST LOOK: Overlord (Stuart Cooper, 83mins, UK, 1975, 35mm, B&W Courtesy: Stuart Cooper & Janus Films)
Thursday 11 June - Sunday 14 June

“Unlike Saving Private Ryan and other dramatizations based on D-Day, Overlord is an intimate film, one that focuses closely on Tom Beddoes (Brian Stirner), who enters the British army, goes through basic training and is one of the first ashore on D-Day.

Beddoes is not a macho hero but a quiet, nice boy, who worries about his cocker spaniel and takes along David Copperfield when he goes off to war.” - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

To coincide with the 65th anniversary of D-Day, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) is screening the restored 35mm print of Stuart Cooper’s critically acclaimed Overlord as part of First Look this June.

Originally released in 1975 and winner of Silver Bear at the Berlin Film Festival that year, Overlord remains an original meditation on war, standing apart from any other war film ever made. Shot by legendary cinematographer John Alcott (Barry Lyndon, The Shining), Overlord seamlessly combines a fictionalised narrative with startling documentary footage of one British soldier’s journey from basic training to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day, June 6, 1944.

ACMI Film Curator Kristy Matheson says “Watching Overlord for the first time was an absolute revelation. It is very exciting that Melbourne audiences will have the chance to revisit or discover this extraordinary cinema classic on the big screen at ACMI. It is the combination of Stuart Cooper’s seamless amalgamation of a fictional narrative and archival footage; John Alcott's spectacular cinematography; and Jonathan Gili's hypnotic editing that make Overlord one extraordinary cinema experience.”

Established film producer James Quinn conceived of creating a documentary whilst he was working as a Museum Trustee at the Imperial War Museum Film Archive in London in 1975. He proposed the project to rising star filmmaker Stuart Cooper, whose film Little Malcolm won the Silver Bear in 1974, and together they looked at 3,000 hours of archival footage from 20,000 feet of film stock in storage. Together Cooper and Quinn decided to change tacks and make a feature film that would interweave the fictional story of a young soldier, training to participate in the D-Day landings using footage from the War Museum archive.

Stanley Kubrick said the only problem with Overlord was that it was "an hour-and-half too short". Having more recently screened at Telluride Film Festival and Seattle International Film Festival to packed audiences lauding it as a lost masterpiece, Melbourne audiences will have the opportunity to experience this elegiac piece of cinema this June.

screens daily at ACMI from Thursday 11 until Sunday 14 June
For more information

“A war film like no other, a sublime and shattering cinematic experience” ICA
“A must-see classic” New York Magazine
“Critically hailed but rarely seen” Mike Snider, USA Today
**** Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian
**** "Overlord" combines its newsreel and fictional footage so effectively that it has a greater impact than all fiction, or all documentary, could have achieved”. Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun Times
“Overlord deserves to join the pantheon of essential World War II combat movies” A. O. Scott, New York Times

Official movie site:
Further Reading:

Links: Melbourne Film Blog's film event calendar

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