Monday, June 9, 2008

Film Festival - Strange But True

Last Night we had a first for the Sydney Film Festival a huge Australian Premiere of a new Animation from SKG (Who made Shrek). Kung-Fu Panda. The experience was more about the massive Red Carpet on Market Street than the film itself.
  • There was a 2.5 hour gap before the film to clear the theatre and set up.
  • The audience was full of kids normally a festival no-no. A lot of who lost interest in the film after the wait for the star, Jack Black, to finish the red carpet stroll.
  • We all got drink bottles and gaming magazines as freebies.
  • They were showing the red carpet arrivals on the screen as we sat waiting for the film to start.
Anyway, back to what we really want to talk about the films

First up yesterday was an Australian made film about the people of north-west Pakistan. A production made in collaboration with the local people was a delight as it showed these people as humans not war-mongers and terrorists. People with dreams and wishes and family just like you and I but living a very different life. A quiet film worthy of a look.

Following this film we had 2 & 1/2 hours which I spent in the bar of one of the hotels having some food and talking to a fellow knitter and a couple of other film-festival attendees about their thoughts so far. As always we had some polarised views - but that is the joy of the film festival!

After 2.5 hours lounging around we headed back through the red-carpet madness to find our the seats were unreserved (What do you mean I paid for a reserved seat!). We ended up sitting exactly one row behind our now booked seats - which also happened to be one row behind three women with six infants school aged children (A good measure of any kids movie).

Kung-Fu Panda has Jack Black playing the unlikely hero who doesn't believe in himself (A Panda that wants to be a Kung-Fu hero). The film is predictable and a little slow during the middle. The kids near us lost interest and were highly fidgety for the middle twenty or so minutes. A new experience for the film festival though...Probably next time Claire (SFF director) we could have a session like this as tickets only - don't make it part of the subscription series.

Following this (At a rapid pace for the festival - about twenty-five minutes) was Brazilian film "Elite Squad" a Golden Bear Winner (in Berlin) and a hugely debated film. This film follows the Elite police officer Nascimento through his search for his replacement. He wants to get out of this job to really comit to his about-to-be new family (Wife is pregnant). This film is violent and confronting. The corruption of the ordinary police, the open violence of both the drug lords of the slums and the eliete squad is both breathtaking and heartstopping. Played out against a culture of detached emotion that is cracked by the impending fatherhood of its central character this film rips you out of your comfortable existence and throws you into a world of social upheaval and ethical dilemna. The use of a group of well-off wide-eyed university students oblivious to the violent world they have taken themselves into with an NGO in the slum to highlight the views of middle and upper-class Berlin is a masterstroke. Confronting Cinema at its best - not for the faint hearted.

Finally - Film Festival Socks Progress. I have completed one sock and am yet to cast on the second.

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