Last night saw the first night of screenings at this year’s Blue Mountains Film Festival. The screenings take place at Scenic World in Katoomba, and it is truly an incredible spot. The screen is backed by a drop off into a view of the iconic valleys of the Blue Mountains. The view on the night was made all the better by the flashes of lightning that occasionally illuminated the backdrop behind the films that were screening.
It was against this backdrop that the audience were treated to 12 films, from music videos, to zombie love stories and plenty in between. iMan kicked things off, a slick and rather humourous music video. Though I must admit that I struggle to recall what the song even sounded like, so dominant were the visuals. The first of the short films proper was the excellently titled How Many Doctors Does it Take to Change a Lightbulb, which featured popular Australian television actor Rob Carlton. The film was one of, if not the, audience hit, with abundant laughs ringing out. There is no doubting that there were some funny moments, but the film did veer into the obvious a little for me.
One of my favourite films of the first night was Cocked Up a very short, short animation about a rooster who has a rather too large bucks night and misses his wedding. The film was snappy, delightfully absurd and looked utterly incredible. The computer animation was really unique looking and brought a lot of life to the film. Cocked Up was followed by another of my favourites from the night – A Tale of Obsession, a dark tale with a really excellent script from writer-director Dave Wade. It starts with an awesome opening credits sequence, and continues into a tale of teen lust, love and obsession. This is the really well shot story of “the hottest virgin on campus” – the gun bloke on the footy team, and the young woman who yearns for him. And what a payoff! I definitely did not see that coming.
Length is an interesting issue when watching short films. One thing I noticed during the first night’s films was that the ones I enjoyed the most were those which did not overstay their welcome. An excellent example of this was Jack and Lily. This cool little love story captured that moment where girls go from an annoyance, to something worth investing time in. It was a really nice little tale, and best of all it told it’s story and left it at that. It was really nicely shot and realised that as a short film it had to hit it’s high note and then get out of there. A film which divided opinion on the night was the story of a girl and her teddy bear, entitled Albert and Juliet. Personally I really liked the film, which was based on a great premise. A teenager, living in a broken home, relies on the friendship of her teddy bear to get by, in the face of abuse by her alcoholic mother and peers who bully her. I thought this was an actually quite intense film, which despite overdoing the ‘shakycam’, engaged throughout. It was another film with an excellent ending, this time a rather crushing one.
Am I Okay was directed by Matilda Brown and stars Matilda Brown and Matilda Brown. It is a very interesting comment on contemporary life, with a patient talking to a therapist played by the same actor. The script muses on one’s place in the world, and a woman’s existential crises. The existential crisis that our modern world in many ways necessitates. Really quite ambitious for a short film and a fantastic, sharp script too. The night closed with another crowd pleaser (gasps count as crowd pleasing yeah?) as zombie love took place in Rotting Hill. The film was short and bloody, featuring some quite exceptional special effects. And once you have seen it, you will never see the iconic spaghetti scene from The Fox and the Hound quote the same way again.
Two more nights of short films and a day of features are still to come at this year’s festival so there is plenty to look forward to. Check out the view that greeted me from the window of my hotel room as I awakened this morning. This is what I trudged out in to find an internet cafe to share this update with you guys. I’m off back to the hotel for a warming whiskey.
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