DOCUMENTARY SHORTS

16-20 Aug

The Lost Voice / Argentina, Paraguay, Venezuela / 2016 / Spanish, Guarani

Insights through women speaking from Paraguay where we are told and hear radio reports on campesinos who have been murdered in Curuguaty in the leadup to the fall of the Socialist Government. Deaths that were never investigated.

Girls and Honey / Belgium, Ukraine / 2017 / Russian

Bees feeding off nectar from roses. From giant sunflowers. The beauty and tranquility of a Ukrainian village. In juxtaposition with the neighbouring activity of the Ukranian army. Frame following gunshots. The sense of home that remains strong despite the invasion of war.

Chinese Obama / China / 2017 / Chinese

This one left me with a beautiful warmth. A character who offers a witty honesty.  He tells us how he has been able to pay his family’s debts thanks to rising to fame as an Obama impersonator. And life beyond Obama.

A Life Together / Australia / 2017 / English

We follow the lives of an Aboriginal woman/Anglo man couple living in poverty in Melbourne. It certainly raised some questions. What was the director’s motive? Is it about showing a bunch of privileged people (festival attendees) how underprivileged people are living? Trying to ‘humanise’ them? To put on display another reality? I am not sure, but the outcome seemed quite disrespectful and judgmental to me.

Connection / Cuba / 2016 / Spanish

The failures in connecting, the disconnections and the connections of the free internet service in public spaces. People gathering in parks trying to connect. The conversations, videos and photos in exchange. A snapshot and not much more.

The Rabbit Hunt / USA, Hungary / 2017 / English

We follow a group of African American young people as they go hunting for rabbits. Tractors move through fields and rabbits run out with the falling of crops. Rabbits run out and are caught. Or not. We return with the characters and their catch to their home. Once again, I was not really sure what the purpose of showing all this was beyond a voyeuristic exposé.

Lightning Ridge: The Land of Black Opals / Australia / 2016 / English

Words from a text intermingled with interviews with miners on the search for the rare black opal. Shots of the landscape that has been invaded by mines. One tells us how success will take him and his mates to the pub. A reminder of Australia’s mining history still striking in the present. But there are moments that once again feel voyeuristic. The shots around one man’s place of residence presumably to show what his living conditions are like. The short is aparently being developed to feature length but once more, I’m not so sure about the why.

INTERNATIONAL SHORTS 2

 

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And the Whole Sky Fit in the Dead Cow’s Eye / USA, Chile / 2016 / Spanish | Fry Day / USA / 2017 / English | Small Town / Portugal / 2016 / Portuguese | A Drowning Man / UK, Denmark, Greece / 2017  / Greek, Arabic | What Tears Us Apart / France / 2016 / French, English, Chinese | A Gentle Night / China / 2017 / Wu Chinese

Rolling into an underground cinema with the contours of upper Collins Street is where I begin my Melbourne International Film Festival 2017. The festival began last week but it is beginning for me this following Tuesday afternoon. I am in only a few minutes before starting time so the cinema is mostly full except for those seats at the sides that nobody wants. So I climb over a few people and plant myself there. Launching into a selection of short films that go from Chile to the US to Portugal, to Greece, to France to China. Images stick in my mind. Sometimes. Like the opening shot of the eye of a dead cow. The deep-set eyes of the matriarch holding up her tired body along with her whole family. The tears of a grieving mother that transform into a stream of water flowing through the grass. The girl who intends an act of kindness by taking a photo of the woman who serves her chicken, chips and coke at the local diner that is intercepted by boyish immaturity. The girl who has her trust thrown back in her face under the car headlights. The girl who walks now alone in fear. Every scene an aesthetically beautiful composition of images and words. A sleeping figure with blue flowers atop them. A woman standing in the long grass with a glass of wine in hand. The silhouette of a man’s legs and feet on a moving train with the night sky behind. Fireworks bursting into action. A day in the life of a Palestinian refugee in Greece. The cost of accepting the kindness of somebody else that is laced with conditions. A woman in deep repent. Two women engaged in a dialogue speaking different languages. The sheer pain is commonly understood. The on-screen tears that pull at mine. A woman wildly searching. A woman finding no solace. A woman who fears the worst. A jolty return from being engrossed in the screen. I am back in my seat as bodies shift for the inevitable encounter with the cold of the night.

#MIFF2017 – a point of beginning

So here it begins. Well not really, but it is the beginning of THIS. I don’t know where THIS may take us, but let it be an exploration. One that begins with my little selection for Melbourne International Film Festival 2017. I managed to narrow it down to 17 sessions of film, documentary, short films and even a little Virtual Reality, screening from tomorrow (8 August) until 20 August. I will reveal them as we go, but let me tell you, it sure is an eclectic mix! This isn’t going to be standard review writing, ‘I liked it because…’ blah blah blah, because that is not really me. Think more along the lines of poetic responses to films, the quirky conversations that went on before or after OR creating for you the images that have stayed with me or the learnings I take from these on-screen journeys. No frills, just me writing how I see it, feel it, hear it.