Monday, June 26, 2006

Ugg Boot Spotting at The Sydney Film Festival

Go Deep, man! So another Sydney Film Festival has finished its run. Its theme, logo, tagline or all of the above was “Go Deeper,” which made me wonder if past festivals had been slammed for being too shallow? I attended the opening night flick Ten Canoes (Rolf de Heer’s remarkable indigenous language feature), Balanda and the Bark Canoes (the making-of doco which demonstrates just how much of an alarming achievement Ten Canoes actually is), Little Miss Sunshine, Friends with Money, Kidulthood (utter crap), C.R.A.Z.Y., Jack Smith and the Destruction of Atlantis, and Thank You for Smoking).

I even did the Dendy Awards for the first time ever, and again (for the most part) it was top stuff. The stand outs were Girl in a Mirror (a doco on 70s Australian photographer Carol Jerrems) and a 55 minute narrative film called Stranded (both of which won a swag of Dendy Awards). Bruce Beresford’s daughter Cordelia Beresford screened her short The Eye Inside, a freaky portrait of 19th century hysteria and its propensity to make one rehearse their favourite contemporary dance moves (or something like that). Had its production values not been so striking and sophisticated, and had Cordelia’s lineage been linked to Bruce Almighty instead of Bruce Beresford, would it have been included (and been judged as best short in its respective category)?

The Dendy Awards ceremony was tepid at best. Justine Clarke (loved her work as Alf’s daughter Roo on Home and Away, as illustrated above) was MC and helped make the ceremony as engaging as a high school skit. An audience award was granted to Little Miss Sunshine, and frankly the film deserved it, however, my cynicism was on high alert - had its star Toni Collette not been available for the ultimate photo opp moment by accepting the award (in Ugg Boots to boot) would the audience votes have been counted in a way that didn’t bring to mind the creative misplacing of Tracy Flick’s winning vote in Alexander Payne’s Election? (While I liked Little Miss Sunshine a lot, its critical reception in some quarters seems lacklustre at best). In an entirely hagiographical moment, the exiting Artistic Director Lynden Barber was revered in an excruciatingly long round of come-to-bed speeches. Love was spreading because at this point I had an erection and just had to, like, get laid real quick. And preferably by legendary animator Yoram Gross, who presented one of the Dendy Awards the way it should be presented: utterly drunk. Or maybe from where I was sitting it just looked that way?

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