10.23.13 | Danielle
Hailing from Perth, Australia it is only natural I have been gifted with the opportunity to write a little something about the amazing films that have cropped up and come across the seas and out of the southern hemisphere this year. The Australian film industry is much more than what is regularly heard or seen – Baz Luhrmann’s AUSTRALIA, Hugh Jackman (mad props to the man) nor is it Crocodile Dundee’s “that’s not a knife… this is!” and the list goes on. What I’d really like to emphasize is the fact that there is indeed a unique film industry down under, which is an incredibly supportive, budding community of emerging writers, filmmakers, actors and creatives specializing in crafty narratives, documentaries and animation in every genre. This year’s official selection truly reflects this, and honestly, has left me feeling a tad patriotic.
CRACKHEADS (New Zealand, 90 minutes)
CRACKHEADS is a kiwi-comedy about four mates who meet regularly to play soccer and share a few beers. As the title suggests, it all changes when Priest comforts a concerned parishioner who shows up on his doorstep with a suspicious looking bag. Revolving around the southern hemisphere’s most addictive drug, methamphetamine, or “crack”, the four friends find themselves hooked after a weekend long bender, resulting in a downward spiral towards their demise. Presenting the subject through four straight-laced mates unlikely to have fallen victim to a meth addiction – with the exception of Jimmy, Tim Tsiklauri uses a simplistic style to drive the story. If laughing out loud is anything to go by then this film did a good job. CRACKHEADS is bloody hilarious and if you allow yourself to look beyond a few hiccups, you’ll find it to be one of the most entertaining films this year. Catch it at the State Theatre October 25 at 10:00PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village October 29 at 7:00PM.
THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE (USA, 79 minutes)
THE LIFE AND CRIMES OF DORIS PAYNE is an endearing documentary by filmmakers Kirk Marcolina of CAMP OUT (2006) and Matthew Pond of UNDRESSING VANNESSA (2007). Spurred by a need to be accepted after years of being forced to sit on the back of the bus, Doris Payne dressed as a well-to-do woman, jet-setting around the world pulling one jewel heist after another, tricking unaware sales assistants at the likes of Cartier and Tiffany’s into making her a small fortune. Throughout the film we see Doris as a doe-eyed elderly woman, unapologetic for the games she played – she was one of the best in the business, with a career spanning across 60 years after all! Although the evidence is clear, Marcolina and Pond factually provide insight into Doris’ life but manage to ultimately humanize her. See it at the State Theatre October 25 12:00PM | Alamo Drafthouse Village October 28 1:00PM.
OXV: The Manual (Australia/UK, 105 minutes)
This atypical sci-fi romantic film by writer/director Darren Paul Fisher, best known for POPCORN (2007) and INBETWEENERS (2001) is set in a world where luck and destiny is pre-determined and can only present itself through varying frequency levels. To simplify, one with a high frequency is extremely lucky, whereas, another with a low frequency is… well, not so lucky. The story follows Marie Fortune into adulthood – one of the lucky ones. Unfortunately this comes with side effects, as Marie struggles to fit in and lacks social empathy. One day she meets Zak, a boy with a low frequency. OXV: THE MANUAL is one cleverly crafted specific script that is thought provoking, tying in elements of sci-fi, romance and carries philosophical undertones that continue to run throughout it, requiring the audience to stay on their toes. Catch this film at the IMAX October 25 9:30PM | Galaxy Highland 10 Theatre October 29 7:00PM.
DECEMBER 25. (USA, 1 minute)
Wendy Dent shows us just how much can be achieved within such a short timeframe in her one-minute documentary following a woman’s struggle to find the words to write in a holiday greeting to her estranged father – but why? The film quickly tracks a story of courage, in which she attempts to undo the burden brought upon her as a child. Using an interesting technique to tell the story – a computer screen. We are privy to words of a jaded woman typing away. Unhappy with certain words and phrases she deletes, re-types, and deletes again and again, as she painstakingly strives to complete the letter. The progression of the film is perfectly dotted with structural subtleties to pull you in and everything happens so quickly one does not even realize they are witness to a story…a secret. Catch it in Shorts Program 6 at the Hideout Theatre October 27 4:30PM | October 28 5:30PM.
WOODY (Australia, Ten minutes)
Australian writer/director, Stuart Bowen presents this predominantly publicly funded tale following Woody (disclaimer: it’s all in the name) a young man with big dreams among which includes playing the piano to a full house and being applauded for his brilliance – which is just what you’ll want to do after seeing Bowen’s creation. There’s just one problem… he has stubs for hands. Despite his limitations, Woody sleeps, wakes up, and goes off to work, just like the rest of us. All grown up, Woody is stuck in a monotonous and mundane routine of daily life. Saddened by the inability of his dream to come true, Woody decides to take matters into his own hands – literally. WOODY is a compelling animated short created by some of the best in the industry and some very generous volunteers, which effectively captures the essence of the film – to dream big, hands or sans hands! Catch it in Shorts Program 6 at the Hideout Theatre October 27 4:30PM | October 28 5:30PM.
SOUNDS PERFECT (New Zealand, Seven minutes)
The mockumentary out of New Zealand follows Dave Dobson, an enthusiastic audio enhancement engineer for the adult film industry who is fed up by the usual carrot and trevally, or hotdog and éclair, Dave seeks to take his profession to the next level by creating fresh sounds – all in the name of winning the prized Golden Clam. In addition, Dave (played by Greg Stubbings) feels a certain responsibility to enhance the experience of watching porn. The film is jam-packed with hilarious visuals and puns, even taking the odd stab at Australian stereotypes and clichés. Sure to be a crowd-pleaser, SOUNDS PERFECT will have you laughing out loud! Don’t miss it in Short Program 9: Sex, Love and Other Bits of Ridiculousness at the Hideout Theatre October 25 6:45 PM | October 27 6:45 PM.
I’M THE ONE (Australia, 14 min)
I’M THE ONE is a 14-minute narrative by award-winning Australian writer/director, Paola Morabito of MY SISTER & I (2007) and BREAD (2007). The film is set in the upper class suburbs of Sydney, Australia and explores the themes of young love, teen angst and unrestrained indulgence. The story follows Wolfe, a 16 year-old teenage boy who questions the meaning of life, love and all things beautiful – including his father’s girlfriend, Mia. The narrative walks a fine line but the awkwardness is eased by Morabito’s beautiful direction and tone, which set the mood, along with an abundance of clean shots. Morabito’s portfolio includes working alongside Jane Campion in New York, which helped create her unique visual style. The film is the perfect entrée to her first feature film, currently in development. Don’t miss it screening as part of Shorts Program 4: Family Matters at the Hideout Theatre October 26, 6:45PM | October 28 9:45PM.
THE HUSTLE (Australia, Seven minutes)
Only a real hustler knows what a real hustle looks like, right? Right. The film presents the story of Troy (played by Nikolai Nikolaeff) who is hustler of the pool table, constantly on the prowl for the right kind of prey – cashed up pub drunks. Starting the hustle is simple for Troy. First, the bartender, in on Troy’s calculated game of hunting buffoon stupid enough to play against him in a game of pool and fall prey to his trickster ways, pours half a glass of beer for him. When the timing is right, Troy is ready to pounce. Finally, Troy appears to be making moves in a game of winner takes all… right up until the tables turn and this time, the odds are not in his favor. Australian writer/director Topher Field uses minimal direction to allow the story to shine through, whilst making a conscious effort to depict a realistic Australian pub scene and approaching the age-old theme of trickery in a creative and fun way. Be sure to look out for the unexpected twist! THE HUSTLE was also a Tropfest finalist earlier this year. See it in Shorts Program 2: The Kindness of Strangers at the Hideout Theatre October 26 4:30PM | October 29 9:30PM.
THE LANDING (Australia, 18 minutes)
Aesthetically brilliant THE LANDING is a sophisticated piece by Josh Tanner and Jade van der Lei, which addresses a tough subject matter that is thrilling yet endearing. Set in midwest America during the 1960’s, the story follows Edward, a young boy raised by his crazed wannabe-soldier farmer father. Fifty years later, Edward returns to the place of his childhood days following the death of his father to unearth a dark truth surrounding the mysterious landing that took place many years ago. The actors are compelling and deliver solid performances, particularly Roberts as an older Edward showing a vulnerability, fearful to discover the truth about his father’s cruel redemption. Josh Tanner uses beautiful direction to effectively capture and bring to life common threats faced during a sinister era whilst weaving together threads of drama and mystery to encompass a range of disturbing and intriguing imagery that draws you in. Catch it in Shorts Program 8 at the Hideout Theatre October 26 9:00PM | October 5:15Pm.
JACOB FIGHTS GIANTS (Australia, 15 minutes)
JACOB FIGHTS GIANTS is a unique fable of heroic justice that demands a little imagination but gives a whole lot more. Stephanie is unenthused by moving to the countryside with her father – even if it is for a less hectic lifestyle. Faced with a tough decision, she must decide whether or not to befriend her annoying neighbor, Jacob, who is forever fighting the terrible Giants inhabiting the nearby forest. Jacob (played by Jayden Caulfield) is an impressionable young boy who spends his days wearing a red cape, paper crown and carries a stick wherever he goes. What kind of stick might one ask? The answer is easy… one to warn off ancient giants who threaten human existence, of course! Filmed in Brisbane, Australia the emerging filmmakers allow you to instantly engage in their beautifully-constructed world, as the opening shot pans over a rarely seen Australian landscape of never-ending forest. The special effects are brilliant in bringing to life the most convincing giant of all time – ‘Cacophon the Slasher’. You can see it as part of Shorts Program 8 at the Hideout Theatre October 26 2:15PM | October 27 12:00PM.