Monday, July 27, 2009

MIFF 2009 Day 2 - 25/7/09

  • Kdopak by se vlka bál (Who's Afraid of the Wolf?, Maria Procházková, Czech Republic, 2008)
  • In Conversation with Anna Karina & David Stratton
  • Anna (Pierre Koralnik, France, 1967)
Who's Afraid of the Wolf?
My first MIFF film was from the NextGen stream and I attended with the family. It's a fairly typical festival film aimed at children, and you can read that as meaning fairly bland. It looks nice and the performances are OK but the writing is so condescending. My 8-year old son enjoyed it, but it's unlikely to be something he'll remember. I find that some of the best children's films are actually not aimed at children, like Persepolis or even The Edge of Heaven. Or children's films that don't underestimate the intellectual capacity of children, such as Azur and Asmar or The Secret of Roan Inish.

Who's Afraid of the Wolf? starts off with promise but the plot becomes quite silly, culminating at an ending that is just fruity. I don't go to these films with high expectations, so in this case, I wasn't disappointed. And you can't expect every MIFF film to be a gem. This one certainly isn't.

In Conversation with Anna Karina & David Stratton
Once again, the MIFF ticketing system is a fiasco and I wonder if they will ever get it right. Last year, my festival passport would have got me entry into this session, but this year I had to pay. No complaints from me about that. MIFF, despite what people may complain about, is cash-strapped (only 5-6% of its budget is government-funded) and hosting guests costs money. $20-$25 to hear David Stratton speak with Anna Karina is certainly better value than paying $50-$55 to hear Tarantino introduce his latest film.

My complaint concerns not being able to load these special sessions onto one's festival pass. You still have to print out a paper receipt. I forgot to print mine out and had to slog it out in the Forum queue, something I hadn't done for a couple of years. Thanks to incompetency and lack of staff flexibility, it wasn't a pleasant experience and hopefully it will never happen again.

The MIFF members' queue was quite small, but the staff were inexperienced and my wait was about 30 minutes - this was just to print out the ticket that I'd already paid for. I wanted to get another ticket and put it on my partner's membership card, who was not arriving for some time. The MIFF staff told me they could not do it without her membership card. I suggested that they should be able to, because I organise all her ticketing on my home computer. The very rude supervisor suggested I come back with my partner's card (and presumably wait another 30 minutes) or go to an internet cafe. Fucking great! and I said just that. I put it down to experience, and the inexperience of these volunteer staff (well, some of them are). And never, never, ever be in that situation again. Be organised and print your tickets at home, because these motherfuckers have so many people to deal with and they can't give a damn because they're swamped. Thanks Jo, you made my fucking day.

As for the session, arriving early I was at the head of the queue and found a seat right in front of the stage. Anna Karina's English is quite OK but she had some difficulty comprehending some of the audience questions. Partly that was the sound system and also some of the questions were not particularly lucid. David Stratton was the consumate host and interviewer as usual and guided the procedings with professionalism. Anna admitted to some early nerves.

When asked about which director/s she found the best to work with, she unequivocally named Godard, the man she married and lived with for ten years. She found it painful at times to recall aspects of that relationship and sometimes changed the subject during the session. She mentioned that she doesn't have any one favourite film that she's been in, but that there's several and that her answer would change every time she's asked. That's all I can recall at the moment, though I couldn't help but notice that she has a very husky voice which I presume is from smoking.

Named simply after the female lead, this is, as Anna herself described it as "a mad film" and she seemed bemused that so many people turned out to both see it and stay for the post-screening Q&A. I attend these MIFF retrospectives for much the same reason that I attend Melbourne Cinémathèque - to catch a body of work and to appreciate individual films in the context of the whole. It's a sort of educational thing. I wasn't particularly impressed with the film itself; it seems frivolous and insubstantial, though enjoyable enough. A musical, it seems to be a low-budget vehicle for the music of Serge Gainsbourg and the beauty of a very young Karina.


Charles said...

I went to this too. We would've been in the queue together. I didn't join the queue until it was by the door though, and so I ended up sitting in the first row of booths.

Karina seemed incredibly appreciative of everybody. She was very lovely. Did you speak to her/have her sign anything afterwards?

Paul Martin said...

Charles, I find it quite moving to see how appreciative Anna Karina is of the attention she's getting at this stage of her life. I've also been to three of her films, two of which have had Q&As, and each one has been either a sellout or close to. She seems very child-look, and I mean that in the nicest possible way.

I haven't spoken to her and know too little of her work to ask anything. I didn't line up for an autograph; I consider both the asking and giving a little demeaning as it borders on fandom. I have spoken up close and personal with some of my 'heroes' such as Michael Leunig and Alkinos Tsilimidos, but I can't bring myself to ask for an autograph because it changes the dynamics of the relationship from equals to hero/fan.

If I had the opportunity to, I would ask Anna questions of a more personal nature that I wouldn't ask in a public forum.

Charles said...

To me it is nice to have a written memento. I also do not mind being seen as a fan. I asked about the signing though as she wrote a little note with mine and I was wondering what she wrote for others.

Anonymous said...

Why anyone would want an autograph from an actor or any celeb is beyond me? What do you do with it? Do you show your friends? Having said that, I don;t even take photos when I am on holidays, interstate or overseas, as I just like to take things in and keep them in my head. I don't want to go back home and show it to my friends. That would be so boring, especially for them!

Rodney said...

I brought my Godard DVDs to sign.I felt like Rupert Pupkin in The King of Comedy,I've never done something like this before, I felt really nervous.She said 7 dvds was too much to sign so she signed 2.I asked her if she watches Godard's recent films,she said yes.I told her that they're hard going and that he's like Bob Dylan in the 60's.She laughed.I kissed her on the hand and said merci bercoup.I was dubious about paying $25 for this session after the George Romero fiasco last year but I'm glad I attended,well worth it.