Gimme Some Truth – RTRFM’s Documentary Film Festival takes place at Luna Leederville from this Friday, November 29, until Sunday, December 1. BOB GORDON pops some corn.
For any music buff, documentary films help fill that insatiable need to learn more about what you already love.
It’s this love of the form that prompted RTRFM Manager, Jason Cleary, to raise the idea of a documentary film festival.
“Music docos are a great interest of mine and obviously many people around the station,” he says. “When I started posing the question of RTRFM putting on a festival of music movies I didn’t think it’d get the overwhelmingly positive response that it did. So we started looking into it, then eventually decided to go for it.”
Gimme Some Truth – RTRFM’s Documentary Film Festival is the result.
“Screenwest and Luna, in particular, have been very helpful,” Cleary points out. “It has been a big learning experience working with the film industry, but I think we have put together a really strong and interesting program of films.”
In terms of music-related documentaries, there’s plenty out there, it’s just a matter of what one wants to focus on and what is available to screen.
“The theme we kept coming back to was independent and underground stories, things that have made it big on their own terms, the left-behinds and the never-knowns,” Cleary explains. “This is what RTR is all about, so that just made sense.
“I also think great music docos give you something else about the subject, they become personal stories of the artist’s journey – or a part of their journey – and I think all of these films do that and that was an important ingredient in what we wanted to showcase.
“We also wanted to make sure we got a good chunk of WA films in there. We support WA artists at any opportunity and local creations are as important as anything else. Showcasing Fridey At The Hydey is really special as it was such a big part of WA music history.”
While a large wishlist for films was a given at the outset, certain realities would always come into play. The folks at Luna Palace Cinemas provided sage guidance.
“Luna were a massive support and help in getting us in touch with different distributors and new release films, as well as the practicalities of putting the festival on,” Cleary says. “I did not even know what they were talking about with film stocks to begin with. Many films, though, were just about chasing random leads for how to get hold of them.
“There were others, though, we could not get and we also wanted to curate a balanced and interesting set of films. For example we had so many ‘rock’ films as possibilities and really struggled to find good electronic and hip hop films for whatever reason. In saying that our opening film, Our Vinyl Weighs A Ton, is an absolute corker, about Stones Throw Records and its founder, Peanut Butter Wolf.”
The films are often educational, sure. However it’s the little surprises that make them gems.
“I’ll give you two things that stick in my mind,” Cleary notes. “Thousands of people cleaning the streets of New York in protest of the councils refusal to empty rubbish bins, all because of one man’s independent radio show.
“And Eddie Vedder showing you how to walk across a room with a 50 cent piece between his butt cheeks then dropping it into a pint glass. I won’t tell you what films these scenes come from, though.”
As an organisation of big music fans it comes as no surprise that the RTRFM staff have had quite the experience putting together Gimme Some Truth.
“It’s been great fun, stressful, disappointing, exciting,” Cleary says, “a million different films thrown up to try to get hold of.
“Really, we just want to showcase a bunch of great underground films that should be seen on the big screen. We were very surprised to find out no-one else has a music documentary festival in Australia and we have quite a few films never before screened in Australia.”
Could this possibly be an annual event?
“We hope so, but maybe there is a reason no other music doco festival exists,” Cleary jokes. “We have been very lucky to have Screenwest and Luna help us get this off the ground, and had some great local and international films to choose from, so we just hope it is a success. Then, there is no reason not to do it again.”