The Opening weekend of MIFF 2008

July 27, 2008

Here it is, crew! The poop on the MIFF Opening weekend…

First things first, Not Quite Hollywood is excellent. Mark Hartley has put one right through the goal posts and delivered a high octane rip snorting ode to the classic days of Oz genre film making. He has done it with knowledge, passion and a true love of the Ozploitation movement, that dates back to his early admiration and friendship with Richard Franklin. Its one from the heart for all lovers of Australian genre film making! It had me longing for that rebel spirit, creative freedom and iconoclastic nature of that great era in Australian film making. This is the real Australian cinema, that of the 70’s and early 80’s, a golden time, that of my youth. Here is the Aussie spirit raw and untamed. Tarantino’s comments were great and the film is a must see, that you should not miss. Its playing Toronto and other fests after that. It makes you want to start exploring (again sometimes) the rare Oz cinematic treats it contains. Fun, non PC, violent and sexual like the films it homages, Not Quite Hollywood is one of the best Australian documentaries of the decade. It also provides a clear political message about making more genre films in this country. From the 70’s Ozploitation workshop came all the major Oz filmmakers of the last 30 years Miller, Weir, Noyce, Beresford, Franklin, Burstall… and on and on.

Everyone partied on afterwards. I got to meet Brian Trenchard Smith, the legendary director of Turkey Shoot. Jon Hewitt was in good form, and delighted his film Acolytes has been selected for the prestigious Toronto Film Festival. We partied on to the small hours at Hamer Hall, and then at the cool Madman NQH soiree at Toff in Town.

At the MIFF Opening MUFF volunteers handed out our critique of this years festival, to all comers (see text below) to a great reaction. The critique went down a treat. Its always difficult to strike a balance of fair critique, and have a bit of terroristic fun at the same time… The main point, that MIFF should play more genre films if it champions Ozploitation, was universally praised as something that needed to be said, so thats all cool.

The MIFF reaction is not clear. Richard Moore has not responded to it officially. I saw him Thursday night at 37 South Opening drinks and apologised in advance, saying its not personal, etc. He seemed cool. On Opening Night he was fine giving me a friendly shove. But after three days of the MIFF critique being out, I might have paid a price for my vocal antics. I attended the George Romero talk Sunday and got to hear an hour of the horror master sharing his wisdom. During question time some royal tits asked some very silly questions of the zombie king. While I was looking for a machete, Mark Hartley and few others saved the day by at least asking things that he might be able to intelligently respond to. I put my hand up to ask him a few in depth questions about his own work. But the MIFF mic Nazi’s wouldn’t hand the conch to little ol’ me… knowing who I was, I suspect. I should say I would not have said anything about the MUFF/MIFF issue of course, only asked an idol a few intelligent questions on his oeuvre. Dawn of the Dead changed my life and is one of my favourite all time horror films. Moore spotted me and I could see him consider passing the mic, then suddenly he turned his back. I may publish a critique, but I would never grandstand at a MIFF guests spot. I have more manners than that, I can assure you…

Richard Moore should be applauded for bringing out George Romero to MIFF in 2008. Its a real coup and a dark treat. It was a great forum despite the odd silly question and the excellent Romero retrospective on 35mm is tres bon. I plan to attend some of the classic early films.

The films I saw over the last few days.

Devils Advocate a fascinating film about Jacques Verges, an outspoken legal defender of anti colonialist terrorists (Pol Pot, Carlos, Algerian and Palestinian nationals). The film also implies Verges was a secret supporter of them too, i.e. bagman, collaborator with Carlos the Jackal, etc. The movie, while having a fascinating subject, gets too caught up in the ‘facts’ and affairs of Verges. It doesn’t confront some of the real issues like his extreme right wing connections (he defended Klaus Barbie and took money from Swiss Nazi’s to fund Palestinian causes, etc.) and other issues that come from that. The political complexity of the man is not captured here. The doco “Polanski: Wanted and Desired” was great and all about the corruption of the grand standing judge Rittenscumbag from Polanski’s late 70’s rape/sex case. It is a highly recommended doco and features a fair portrait of the alleged crime, and the tough life Roman has lived.

It all culminated Sunday night at Accelarator drinks, with a lecture from a MIFF marketing department head about my naughty MIFF critiquing ways. I just said “Everyone’s a critic” and politely defended my right to free speech and actually speaking up a bit in his hermetically sealed film industry of ours. It seems the MUFF incendiary culture bomb is having an effect within MIFF after all. The natives are getting restless…

One Response to “The Opening weekend of MIFF 2008”

  1. rups said

    Yesss, and I agree, a wonderful diversion into the golden era, of which I too think as potent as A-Merican cinema of its era, but even if we are to make genre films, which indeed we are on a very small level, isn’t it not futile if the genre is all the same kind of genre film? If there isn’t a division in perspective of which there was then, which surmounted to the individual rather to the genre?

    I don’t know, I still think the sieve of culture in this country is shinning only from a small group of hopefuls, I don’t know if everyone outside the hub of film afficionados appreciates what is happening on the cusp of film development. I don’t know if I could stand at MIFF and say to myself, yes things are happening, when clearly no one else is really.

    Rups 🙂

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