UWA Somerville launches Perth Film Festival with Cannes winner Faces Places
The Lotterywest Film season has officially launched and you have no excuse but to indulge in a mid-week film! As glorious summer sunsets coax our imaginations into the evening, bring a picnic and sit back with friends and strangers alike to share cinematic dreams full of new voices, new stories and new ways of seeing and dreaming, an ode to friendship from the most unlikely duo, a biting satire of bourgeois Brits, a laugh-out-loud documentary about chook breeders and a coming-of-age romance with a supernatural twist.
This week's film was the incredible Cannes winner Faces Places. Directed by one of the last living pioneers of the Nouvelle Vague, together with street photographer/mural artist JR (think French Banksy), Visages Villages takes place in villages throughout France. The film quickly establishes that the pair are indeed worlds apart but at the same time, kindred spirits. While her eyesight has regressed in recent years, her customary creative vision certainly makes up for it in this touching film.
Over the course of their travels, Varda and JR met everday people, listened to their unique stories and pasted their portraits on facades, rocks, homes and storefronts. The film portrayed factory workers, farmers, working class wives and waitresses as the forgotten. They may not be creating the latest app or starring in the next Netflix series, but they are every day individuals appreciating ordinary life. This was a continuation of Varda's career of directing very humanistic films and spreading her vision through culture.
Another theme that resonated throughout the film was Varda's fixation on her past. She meditated on old friends, including the late fashion photographer Guy Bordin, and she mused upon her own death, summing up her feelings about it, “I’m looking forward to it. Because that’ll be that.” The honest awareness of one's mortality represented something quite profound for me.
Although set in 2016 using modern technology to print and paste the murals, any film nerd would recognise odes to the classics of the 60s. In one scene, Varda flashed clips from her 1961 short film Les Fiancés du pont Mac Donald ou (Méfiez-vous des lunettes noires). In another, Varda commented on JR's refusal to remove his sunglasses reminded her of her good friend Godard in the 1960s. The scene that nearly brought tears to my eyes was where JR wheeled Varda through the Louvre Museum in a wheelchair, paying homage to the classic 1964 film Bande a Part by Jean Luc Godard.
The nods to Godard and retrospect more generally came to a head when JR and Varda set off to visit him at his home. Varda came with pastries, only to be faced with a cryptic message scribbled on the window of his front door. Varda was in tears and called him a dirty rat. Weighing her past against the present, Varda's companionship with JR manifested itself when he took his sunglasses off. The two characters and their unlikely connection inevitably merged as the centrepiece for this incredible film. The rapport which was quickly established compelled the viewer beyond the vision of portraits and the environments upon which they were pasted. While mostly light hearted, it was the underlying sadness on mortality, impermanence and human nature which elevated the documentary into an art form.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE LOTTERY WEST FILM PROGRAM
The first half of the 2017-2018 program includes exciting award winning films that transport you across the globe to rural France, America, Scandinavia, New Zealand and the English moors.
‘Though this year’s film program is as varied as any other, I saw absurd, satirical humour in so many of these films,’ says Lotterywest Films Program Manager Tom Vincent . 2017-2018 may be the year of tragicomic films, for tragicomic times.’
Festival favourites in the Lotterywest Films program include:
BORG VS MCENROE
Borg vs McEnroe gives us an inside look into two intense souls, and one of the greatest sporting encounters ever seen at The Wimbledon tennis championships in 1980. Sweden’s ice-cool four-time Men’s Singles Champion Björn Borg, versus snotty New York upstart John McEnroe (a never-better Shia LaBeouf). As the clock ticks down to a nail-biting, famously epic five-set showdown, surprising vulnerabilities emerge.
‘(LaBeouf) is terrific in a role that shrewdly plays off his controversial off-screen persona.’ - Variety
Kristin Scott Thomas, Timothy Spall, Patricia Clarkson and Cillian Murphy lead a cast to die for in this fast-paced, biting satire of bourgeois Brits directed by Sally Potter. A dinner party from hell gathers old friends to honour Janet after her appointment as Shadow Health Minister. Politics and personalities collide, the celebrations turn to chaos and secrets spill out over the vol-au-vents. With a barrage of killer one-liners and an energy that zings, The Party is a wickedly entertaining get together you won’t want to leave.
‘Gleefully nasty, zinger-packed and over in 71 minutes, Sally Potter's dark drawing-room comedy is her zestiest work in ages.’ - Variety
The buzziest film of the season and the winner of the prestigious Palme d’Or at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival, The Square is an absurd jet-black comedy that will leave you breathless.
In the run-up to his bold new exhibition called ‘The Square’ the art museum director finds himself in a moral free fall after a PR stunt goes off the rails. With its world of daft media stunt and confounding art-speak. The Square offers a goldmine of awkward dark humour. This deliriously strange parody of art and imagination marks director Ruben Östlund as modern cinema’s most savage and inventive satirist.
‘The film’s beauty is in its destruction of the self-importance within the art world, particularly contemporary art.’ - Daily Review
THE OTHER SIDE OF HOPE
Super-droll Scandi humour takes on a story for our times. Arriving accidently in Helsinki as a stowaway, Syrian asylum seeker Khaled has hopes for a future as a legitimate Finn. When he crosses paths with grumpy former shirt salesman turned restaurateur Wikstrom, the two become unlikely companions. Director Aki Kaurismäki perfectly nails the experience of helplessness in this humane and surprising comedy.
‘Screamingly funny. Gorgeous, marbled with melancholy and warmed through with an irresistible sense of compassion, this is the work of a master filmmaker at the very top of his game.’ - The List
Intoxicating first love meets cool thriller in this spine-tingling film. Thelma is a young woman attempting to survive her first year of college and is suddenly feeling that overwhelming force of a real romantic crush. But this is more than just a feeling. Thelma’s passion for her classmate has the power to move things, even to fracture her world. Marrying supernatural shivers with a truly affecting romance, Thelma will take over your emotions.
‘Vulnerable and meek and curious and sweet and funny and sexy, Thelma is a young woman in transition, a horror movie heroine so grounded in reality that she breaks free of any genre constraints.’ – Slashfilm
The full Lotterywest films program is available at here.