I got totally excited today when I saw a couple in matching Coogi-like jumpers in the queue for the Sydney Film Festival. They were seeing the same film as us, Beasts of the Southern Wild
Beasts of the Southern Wild
Winner of the US Dramatic Grand Jury Prize in Sundance and the Camera d’Or at Cannes, this striking and unforgettable feature-film debut is set in ‘The Bathtub’ – a defiant bayou community cut off from the rest of the world. Six-year-old Hushpuppy is devoted to her father, Wink, who frequently goes off on sprees, leaving Hushpuppy to fend for herself in an isolated compound filled with semi-wild animals. The community is a resilient and joyous one, but there is a sense of inevitable destruction. At school, Hushpuppy is taught about natural selection, global warming and the ecological shifts that have placed them in a perilous position. Things come to a head when Wink comes down with a debilitating illness, a massive storm hits, and the ice caps melt, releasing destructive prehistoric beasts who descend on The Bathtub. Little Hushpuppy has to find in herself the courage and heroism to survive the catastrophe and re-instil a sense of community. Fusing recent history and contemporary environmental concerns with a mythic quality, Beasts of the Southern Wild defies easy classification or description, instead forging a new path that firmly establishes director Benh Zeitlin as a bright new cinematic talent.
Really loved this, the little girl was brilliant, such emotion and intelligence! Great film 4.5 out of 5 stars.
Straight after this we saw High Tech, Low Life. The director introduced the documentary and there was a Q&A afterwards. Now boys and girls, does everyone know the difference between a question and a story.
High Tech, Low Life.
A vegetable seller on the streets of his village in Hunan province, 27-year-old ‘Zola’ is also a blogger, defying the Chinese government’s censorship and disputing its propaganda. His fellow blogger, Beijing-based 57-year-old ‘Tiger Temple’ earned his tag as China’s first citizen reporter when he documented an unfolding murder. Mobiles and laptops at the ready, the duo travel the country reporting on the unreported – from rapes to pollution to homelessness. Zola’s parents disapprove – ‘country comes before individual’ – and they fear for his future. The older Tiger Temple is more cautious, keeping friends and family at arm’s length and avoiding the limelight. As he says, “The Arab Spring made the authorities more nervous.” High Tech, Low Life is an important and timely look at China’s bloggers as they battle the infamous Great Firewall of China.
I found this doco interesting, but did have a little nap in the middle. Around the same time there was a technical difficulty, and the house lights came on… so that woke me up. It was interesting how they focussed on two very different Chinese bloggers, who were both trying to do a similar thing. It was funny to observe Zola, a Chinese Gen Y’er from the “village” and how he managed to get all that tech gear. I guess in Australia his stuff may be basic, but it did the job – got his blogging out to the world. I gave this 3 out of 5 stars. We also had the treat of a short film before the main feature called Catcam, it was a lot of fun, and I don’t like cats. There was a bit of a recurring theme with cats through the two films in this session.
We had dinner at Danks Street Depot with my in-laws tonight. Really love the food there, it’s not cheap but it’s ethical. The giant veal shank with risotto was yummy! We attempted to get dropped off at the cinemas on George Street but the traffic was so bad! Seemed worse than the usual Saturday night traffic, maybe it was everyone trying to check out the last weekend of Vivid Festival.
The 3rd SFF film of the day was Moonrise Kingdom… I was really looking forward to this one. Caroline & Teresa came along for the ride.
Wes Anderson (The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox, Rushmore) creates unique worlds within his films, and the utterly charming Moonrise Kingdom is no exception. The opening film at Cannes this year, Moonrise Kingdom is set on an island off the coast of New England in the summer of 1965. Sam (Jared Gilman), an industrious orphan who is frequently bullied, sees a kindred spirit in Suzy (Kara Hayward) and the two 12-year-olds fall in love, make a secret pact, and run away together into the wilderness. Various authorities try to hunt them down, including local sheriff Captain Sharp (Bruce Willis) and Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton), and Suzy’s parents (played by Bill Murray and Frances McDormand) are crazy with worry. Meanwhile, a violent storm is brewing off-shore – and the peaceful island community is turned upside down in every which way.
Yeah, sure this will come out on general release eventually but it’s one of those times, I like to say I already saw that premiere at the Film Festival. I’ve loved most of Wes Anderson’s films so Moonrise Kingdom was much anticipated. I didn’t realise it was co-written by Roman Cappola (I still need to write about his Google+ hangout from the Semi-permanent conference). Anyway, I loved the art direction, the story, the crazy characters and Sam reminded me of a young Sean Lennon. It was a quirky film and I really enjoyed it. The end.