BIFF for 2009 has come to a close and I can finally take my foot off the pedal. I’ve seen 15 films in the last 11 days (most of them at BIFF) and with the Ekka holiday coming up on Wednesday, I’ll be able to catch up on some of the films in wider release.
I’ve often been slack with BIFF and missed a lot of films but this year I was enthusiastic. I tried to take advantage of the fact that this may be the last ever festival at the Regent. It was great to see so many people and it was nice to see the Regent Bar buzzing with live music.
Before I get to my BIFF wrap, I was very excited to get a last minute call up to host the Balibo question & answer session which followed the Palace Movie Club screening on Sunday afternoon. I was up on stage with Anthony LaPaglia (the main star), Damon Gameau (another of the film’s lead actors), Robert Connolly (the director) and Tony Maniaty (author of book on Balibo).
You can view a few photos from the Q&A by clicking here:
They were all a great bunch of guys and they were very happy with the audience’s response to the film. It was a really good Q&A with many audience members asking a question. We went on for about 40 minutes and I’m sure we could have gone on for much longer. The stories that the cast and crew shared with us were awesome.
It’s been a great year for Australian cinema and here’s another film to add to the list. It’s out this Thursday so make sure you check out Balibo.. and tell all your friends to see it too.
Speaking of Balibo, it cleaned up at the BIFF awards by winning two major prizes – the Fipresci Jury Award and the Interfaith Jury Award. I popped along to the presentations on Sunday afternoon and it was great to see Robert Connolly’s film being recognised.
I have to say that I also enjoy the special children’s juries at BIFF. Two separate juries (one for those between grade 8 and 10, and another for those between grade 11 and 12) see four nominated films and then select a winner. It was nice to hear them speaking at the presentation and justifying their decision. I hope this is a trend which continues at many BIFFs to come.
As for my own BIFF winners, there were seven films which I really liked – An Education, 500 Days Of Summer, Coraline, Unmade Beds, Blessed, Eden Is West and Balibo. Don’t ask me to pick a favourite out of those. The good news is that with the exception of Unmade Beds, all will be released in Australia in the next few months. Coraline is out already.
Of the rest, I’d give a mild thumbs up to Looking For Eric and Subdivision.
Films I didn’t hate, but didn’t really like were The September Issue, Everyone Else, Moon and Prime Mover.
To quickly run through a few films that I didn’t mention in last week’s blog…
The Subdivision premiere was great on Thursday night with so many of the cast and crew in attendance. Ash Bradnam spoke well before the screening and I give the guy credit for his determination (it took 8 years) to get this movie made. It’s got its weaknesses but I liked its spirit… and the fact that it does feel like a true Queensland film. It’s out next week and I’ll shoot through a full review then.
Unmade Beds was a film shot in London which centres on two squatters (a guy and a girl) living in the same house in London. There were a lot of young people in the audience and I think many of them enjoyed it judging from their response. It was the first film that I’ve seen from Argentinean director Alexis Dos Santos and I look forward to seeing his future films.
Blessed on Friday night caught me off guard with Blessed, directed by Ana Kokkinos. I loved Head On but hated Kokkinos’s last film, The Book Of Revelation. I went in with a very pessimistic frame of mind but thought it was a strong, powerful film. A great film score, a great soundtrack and a great ending. With an ensemble cast, I look forward to telling you more when it’s released in September.
I’m not sure which film won the Audience Award at this year’s BIFF. I think they’re still tallying up the votes. I’ll provide the full top 10 next week.
Well that just about does it from me. I return to the regular movie world to see the truly awful G.I. Joe: The Rise Of The Cobra topping the box-office charts both here and the United States. What are people thinking? I don’t think I’ve seen worse special effects in a movie this year. Thankfully we’re only a few months away from award season and there’ll be some better movies on the way.