Monday, June 29, 2009

The Week in Review - 28/6/09

  • En construcción (Work in Progress, José Luis Guerín, Spain, 2001)
  • Innisfree (José Luis Guerín, Spain, 1990)
  • Bastardy +Q&A (Amiel Courtin-Wilson, Australia, 2008)
  • Le renard et l'enfant (The Fox and the Child, Luc Jacquet, France, 2007)
  • T is for Teacher (Rohan Spong, Australia/USA, 2009)
  • MIAF - International Program #3
  • MIAF - Studio Watch: The Mill

Work in Progress
Quite a fascinating film whose documentation of the demolition of an old neighbourhood is reminiscent of the films of Pedro Costa (though without the same level of bleakness - not a criticism of either director's work). I don't have a lot to say about it other than, like In the City of Sylvia, Guerín demonstrates a photographer's fascination with capturing the soul of a city and its inhabitants.

Guerín's unconventional style is anything but mainstream. This is quite an odd film, an ode to the locations where John Ford shot The Quiet Man. Once again, Guerín is fascinated by location, this time rural Ireland. He certainly is an enigma.

Remarkably, Amiel Courtin-Wilson spent some seven or so years making this film, and in the Q&A session afterwards he explained why. Firstly, there was an issue with money, that came in dribs and drabs. The fact that the subject spent significant periods incarcerated also caused problems.

As I have mentioned previously, I met Jack Charles a few years ago and, having found him a very colourful and gregarious character, was keen to learn more about him. What a journey! As a 10 month old baby, he became a member of the Stolen Generation, and has never known his father. He discovered acting at age 19, set up the first Aboriginal theatre troupe in the 1960s, has been addicted to heroin since 1973, He's subsisted on burglary ("collecting the rent", he called it), has seen the walls of HM Pentridge up close and personal several times and has been homeless for large stretches of his life. There's more - much more - but that's it in a nutshell.

I found it fascinating that Jack sat in the front row (I was two rows directly behind him), with every conceivable shame on full display to him and the audience that filled the large Kino cinema. I was going to ask him during the Q&A how he felt about seeing himself like that, but he addressed it anyway. He said something to the effect that he was inspired to be able to set an example to his own people of what can be achieved, how he had left all this behind him and was now a respected elder of his mob. Since his last release from Deer Park prison, he's gone straight and says there's no going back to that life. I sincerely hope so.

[Pictured: John Safran, Jack Charles and Amiel Courtin-Wilson]

From my perspective, animation shorts are a good interlude to serious film-going, which could be interpreted as some sort of snobbery, but that's what it is for me. I saw one of the international programs as well as a curated selection of shorts from The Mill, a London studio that has made many award-winning advertisements (some of which have appeared on Australian TV), music videos and short films. The Mill's work is very impressive and many of the pieces were not obviously animated, using animation to create hyper-reality to various situations.

T is for Teacher
I'm reviewing this ahead of the films screening at the Bayside Film Festival. I liked this a lot, and (with Rhys Graham's Skin) it's screening at 7pm on Thursday 16 July at Palace Brighton Bay, followed by a Q&A with director Rohan Spong. The film documents four transgender individuals as they transition from men to women in their roles as high school teachers in the US. My review is coming soon.

The Fox and the Child
This is a beautiful looking film that merges documentary with fiction. Basically, it takes a glorious rural landscape in France and contrives a little story - almost a fairy tale - about a young girl who befriends a wild fox. I would have preferred seeing the original French version, but the voice-over narration by Kate Winslet is quite OK and obviously makes it more marketable to an English-speaking audience. The story sometimes goes on a bit longer than necessary, but this is a very enjoyable film that is also well-suited for children.


Jurguens said...

Catching up with some of your posts and just wanted to say... Guerin is definitely and enigma, and a beautiful one, his depth and subtlety are unparalelled. En Construccion and Innisfree are amazing. I haven't seen In the City of Sylvia, but it sounds very interesting.

Paul Martin said...

By chance, Jurguens, my In the City of Sylvia DVD arrived from Amazon UK yesterday. In my opinion, it is easily his best work, at least of those I've seen. As an amateur photographer, I really relate to his work and where I feel he's coming from. I spend much of my lunch-times wandering the laneways and streets of Melbourne with a camera.