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REVELATION PERTH INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL Going Underground

Last Cab_Day 15_Lake Eyre etc_2014
Last Cab_Day 15_Lake Eyre etc_2014

Time moves fast. It hardly seems that long ago that Revelation founder, Richard Sowada, held the first festival in the Greenwich Club basement, screening a handful of films to a roomful of keen movie-heads. In truth it was 18 years ago and Rev, as it’s affectionately truncated to, is now all grown up.

This year Festival Director Sowada and Program Director Jack Sargeant have curated an eclectic and challenging program that is sure to have something to please even the most demanding cineaste. Films and events are running at a number of locations around Perth, including Luna Leederville, Luna SX in Fremantle, Cinema Paradiso, The Backlot Perth, Central Institute of Technology and the Film & television Institute at the State Library.

Opening night film Last Cab To Darwin is director Jeremy Sims’ spiritual follow up to his micro-budget gem, Last Train To Freo. Based on Reg Cribb’s much-lauded play of the same name, it stars Australian acting icon Michael Caton, a man diagnosed with a terminal illness who travels to Darwin to end his life on his own terms under the Northern Territory’s then-current euthanasia legislation. Also starring Jacki Weaver, it’s a moving comedy-drama filled with pathos, wit and honesty.

The Duke Of Burgundy sees Berberian Sound Studio director Peter Strickland pay homage to the erotic European cinema of the ‘70s with this tale of the crumbing relationship between a middle aged lepidopterist (Sidse Babette Knudsen) and her submissive younger lover (Chiara d’Anna). Perverse, meditative and astute, it’s a fascinating look at power differentials in relationships, and a note-perfect tribute to an often overlooked subgenre as well.

Music fans are particularly well served this year, with documentaries The Damned: Don’t You Wish That We Were Dead; Industrial Soundtrack For The Urban Decay; The Wrecking Crew; Theory Of Obscurity: A Film About The Residents; and The Cambodian Space Project: Not Easy Rock ‘n’ Roll covering a wide variety of genres, periods and subjects.

Of special interest to local music historians is Parkerville: Sets, Bugs And Rock ‘n Roll. This is a masterful look at some of the secret history of Perth’s live music scene, focussing on the life and work of one John Joseph Jones, who carved an amphitheatre out of the Mundaring hills to serve as the setting for his grandiose theatrical visions. Eventually the amphitheatre became a Mecca for music fans, playing host to countless gigs in the ‘70s. Jones himself comes across as a kind of home-grown Fitzcarraldo, a flawed dreamer whose plans were scuppered by bureaucracy and brute reality.

Other documentaries on the bill this year include Being Evel, a look at the life of daredevil motorcyclist Evel Knievel from producer Johhny Knoxville, and Dark Star: HR Giger’s World, about the cult artist who, among other achievements, designed the creature for Ridley Scott’s Alien. Director Joshua Oppenhiemer, whose The Act Of Killing was one of the highlights of the 2013 festival, returns to Indonesia for The Look Of Violence, another examination of the state-sanctioned murders that wracked the country in the ‘60s.

Special events this year include a Digital Filmmaking Masterclass with Craig Deeker, a three day workshop that runs at The Backlot Perth from Friday, July 10, until Sunday, July 12. Australian acting mainstay Steve Bisley presents his masterclass, The Power Of The Monologue, at FTI on Thursday July 9, while Jeremy Sims will teach Building Directors’ Skillsets, On-Set And Off-Set at The Backlot on Wednesday, July 1. The Revelation Academic Conference is also on again, attracting speakers and experts from across the globe, who will hold forth on various aspects of the art and industry of film.

TRAVIS JOHNSON

Revelation Perth International Film Festival runs from Thursday, July 2, to Friday, July 12. For tickets, session times and all other information, go to revelationfilmfest.org. au.

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