In a recent sit down with Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley I revealed that I felt somewhat cheated by my last festival experience. I felt that I’d seen all the films that I had to see from the buzz created by international critical voices from the primary ‘feeder’ festivals for Sydney; Cannes, Berlin Film Festival and Sundance.
We shared the following exchange:
Nashen Moodley: “I always say that if you see 20 films or 25, How many do you see?”
Blake Howard: “About 25-30.”
NM: “If you like every film then one of us has made a mistake.”
Nashen described the necessary balance by outlining: “I don’t want the selection to be completely safe. I want some things to challenge; I want you to argue with people about them after wards - so that’s for me ideal. I don’t want you to hate everything either. I want people to take chances on things that they wouldn’t ordinarily see. Not just from the directors they like but to go see a film from Macedonia because when else would you ever get a chance to see a film from Macedonia on the big screen, it’s not easy.”
You’re going to find #filmtwitter, those shameful “vulgar auteurists" (myself included) in the five following films:
1. Terence Malick’s “Song to Song”: The latest Malick film seems to be the most universally derided of his recent flurry of films; but that’s not going to stop us from taking his disorientating lens to the music business.
2. Sofia Coppola’s “The Beguiled”: Coppola’s latest was just awarded the top directing honours, only the second woman ever to be awarded the honours.
3. Bong Joon-ho’s “OKJA”: From the maker of “Snowpiercer” who is currently embroiled in the Cannes vs Netflix smackdown.
4. Michael Haneke’s “Happy End”: The reportedly deliriously bleak latest film starring Isabelle Huppert is what Peter Debruge from Variety states that it: returns to his austere conceptual roots, reuniting with DP Christian Berger — whose rigid formalism set the look of “Caché” (2005) and “The White Ribbon” (2009) — to catalog this new family’s dysfunction at a distance, all but announcing that their sins are those of Europe at large (another similarity with Andrey Zvyagintsev’s “Loveless,” which did the same for Russia).
5. "Call Me By Your Name" is Luca Guadagnino’s follow up to “A Bigger Splash” and it’s currently the highest rated 2017 film this year on Metacritic.
But to ensure that you’re truly going to see some things that you’re just not going to be able to see on a big screen check out the following:
1. “Nowhere to Hide”: An award winning documentary about Nori Sharif, a male nurse living in Iraq’s ‘triangle of death.’ The quote that hooked me was from the International Documentary Film Awards Jury; “There are those films which are wonderful to see and there are films that the world needs to see. Nowhere to Hide is both of these things.”
2. “The Forest of Lost Souls”; the log line for this Portuguese writer/director José Pedro Lopes ‘arthouse meets grindhouse in a tale of two strangers who meet in a forest where people go to commit suicide - but one of them has no intention of dying.’ Sounds bent and disturbing.
3. “By The Time It Gets Dark” is Thai experimental filmmaker Anocha Suwichakornpong's second feature. It’s a film that examines the truth from the perspective of a fictional filmmaker that Michael Atkinson from The New York Times calls “a gorgeous [film] of glances and ephemera and delicate metaphors.”
4. “Rage”; a Japanese film directed by Lee Sang-il that’s both an impressive whodunit (by all accounts) and according to Dennis Harvey in Variety: “it's a drama about the universal thirst for connection and trust.”