Thursday, 12 August 2010


Sigh. The end of another MIFF. I've emerged, bleary-eyed, back into the everyday world, re-calibrating my sense of time and re-aligning my diet (how many cheap shitty sandwiches did I eat during the festival, racing between sessions?).
Actually, compared to other years, I saw less films – for the first time ever, my tally was less than 50 films. While seeing over 50 films may seem excessive to all non-cinephiles, and even to some cinephiles, there are many reasons why I stand by doing this. First up, this may be the only time that many of the programmed films get a chance to be screened in Australia, so one has to support the presence of these films. Second, it can't be helped – even on a bad year (and there were so many films that didn't make it here this year, but that's for another posting, coming soon) there are still a huge number of films for the hardcore cinephile to obsess over, and each year the best films of the year were viewed at MIFF. Finally, although catching 3 to 5 films per day each day for 17 days can get tiring, there is a sense of feeling your cinema-vision being incrementally crafted and honed, the ability to assess the weight, texture, and sensation of each film begins to feel like second nature as you immerse yourself deeper and deeper.
So, a quick overview, then the ubiquitous top ten. A theme that pervaded last year's festival was 'life is bleak, no one wins, the world is a shitty place' (see Martyrs, Eden Lake, Antichrist, just for starters). This year the theme was more benign – it seemed to be about ceaseless wandering. My Joy, Let Each One Go Where They May, Karaoke, Between Two Worlds, The Wind Journeys, and Uncle Boonmee Who Can Recall His Past Lives all involved characters just simply walking around for a bit. Most of time the walking seemed either aimless, lost, arduous, or never-ending. Rather than the previous year's aura of nihilistic, apocalyptic doom, this penchant for ambling perhaps signifies a modicum of hope – if the future direction of global civilisation has seemed dark, ominous, and paralysingly hopeless, then the act of meandering is at least the start of an ongoing search to try and find meanings, answers, bearings.
There are a huge number of films I have missed, and although most of these films have distribution and therefore may return to the big screen in the next 12 months, the context of a festival adds an inexplicable something to the viewing experience. So, although I will see a swathe of films over the next year that were previewed at the festival, there is always a pang tugging inside me, a little ache that I missed them when they were first shown at MIFF.

Right. Here's my top ten of the festival;
1. NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT (Patricio Guzman; France/Germany/Chile; 2010)
2. UNCLE BOONMEE WHO CAN RECALL HIS PAST LIVES ( Apichatpong Weerasethakul; France/Germany/Spain/Thailand; 2010)
3. LOURDES (Jessica Hausner; France; 2009)
4. WORLD ON A WIRE (Rainer Werner Fassbinder; Germany; 1973)
5. LA DANSE: THE PARIS OPERA BALLET (Frederick Wiseman; France/USA; 2009)
6. VILLALOBOS (Romuald Karmakar; Germany; 2009)
7. POETRY (Lee Changdong; South Korea; 2010)
8. OVER YOUR CITIES GRASS WILL GROW (Sophie Fiennes; France/UK/Netherlands; 2010)
9. NE CHANGE RIEN (Pedro Costa; Portugal/France; 2009)
10. ALAMAR (Pedro González-Rubio; Mexico; 2009)

And snapping at the heels of these ten are The Strange Case of Angelica, Beetle Queen Conquers Tokyo, Nenette, Medal Of Honor, and Karaoke.
So, back to DVDs and normal cinema sessions. Sigh.

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