Blue Mountains Film Fest: Day 2 Recap

Day 2 of the Blue Mountains Film Festival started with me waking up to the sight of a whole lot of snow, as seen by the photo I included in yesterday’s recap. Even though I have lived in relatively cold places my whole life (cold as in Australian cold) I had never seen anything like it. After a few hours trudging around looking for some pants to replace the jeans stupidly left in Canberra and an internet cafe, I was more than ready for some relaxing, and some warmth. A pretty cool place to find both was the Cafe Cinema, being run as part of the festival at Cafe 88 in Katoomba.

 

The view from the Cafe Cinema. Look at the size of that beer – It’s as big as a mountain!

The Cafe Cinema is a great concept. It is a really nice place to while away a few hours, especially given the fact they sell both coffee and beer, so all bases are covered. Another major advantage is that it gives the opportunities for more shorts to get a screening at the festival and as such it is a vehicle for some local, and more inexperienced filmmakers to get their work seen. As one of the films that showed while I was there was quite long (50 odd minutes) I did not get the chance to see the entire program. Generally speaking the films are of a somewhat lesser standard than those showing in the main program, but definitely interesting and worth a watch. Captured is the story of a war photographer that after a tense start becomes rather melodramatic. It does a have a cool little tic in the shooting style though. The photographer taking a shot causes the action to freeze frame in black and white, a genuine ‘photo’ if you will. The other film I saw was High Ambitions on Abu Dablam. The film chronicles an expedition to summit the titular Himalayan mountain. It was a very apt film given the conditions that were raging outside and the sheer beauty of the Himalayan scenery allows the film to get by. It probably could have been a little shorter, but does finish on a high (literally I guess) as the final push to the summit is the film’s most interesting part.

The night’s short film screening kicked off with what I think was the pick of the music video category over the first two nights. 5 Minutes From Now, a track by hip hop artist King Brown, not only has the best music track, but also a really sharply made clip to go with it. The clip is excellent, a blend of city life and performance footage with really up-tempo editing to match the track. Also some really nice use of black and white as well as split screens which looked amazing without being too distracting. This was one of my favourite films of the night. The first big crowd pleaser of the night was a Boo, a comedy about an elderly couple who get kicks out of scaring each other by pretending to be dead. The film was really well shot and got massive laughs from many in the crowd, though I must admit it was not my favourite comedy of the festival.

Of all the categories thus far, animation is probably the one that has impressed the most. Even those with narratives that are a little unpolished, each and every one of them looks really incredible, with a nice mix of artistic styles. So it was with the Nathan Jones’ effort Outhouse, a tale of two toilet rolls. This was a fun little film, with a cool script and the best animated toilet rolls I’ve seen. Another real crowd pleaser last night was Cockatoo, a film which I also really loved. After impressing last night with her directorial and dual acting role effort Am I Okay, Matilda Brown was again really good onscreen in this Matthew Jenkin directed film. As the film opens, it is a little ambiguous as to whether it is going to take the comedic or dramatic route. Eventually it goes for laughs, but not the cheap kind – I think that this is definitely the best comedic script that the festival has seen over the first two nights. The film nailed the balance between heartfelt and big laughs and as such probably managed to be the biggest success in terms of marrying artistic quality with audience reaction so far.

Last night’s program was quite heavy on comedy actually. The Future, directed by Venetia Taylor, starts from a very cool idea, with one character (who has just accepted a marriage proposal) saying “I wish I could see the future”. And she does, right there and then in the restaurant. The film stays focused on its good premise and managed to be really quite a funny conversational style comedy. When the next film, animation The Deadliest Game fired up, I nerded out more than a little. A combination of animation & live action as well as melding a pastiche of old adventure films with sci-fi – count me in! I was really disappointed then when the film fell really flat. It did look amazing and really original, but the script was not able to back that up. The final film of the night did not have that issue though. I have already said that all the animated films have looked amazing so far, but I struggle to convey just how great The Missing Key looked. In all seriousness, if the next multi million dollar budget Disney flick came out looking like this film, I would be impressed. The old school animation design is really good, and there is a delightful attention to detail as well, with lots of jokes going on in the background. The basically wordless narrative is really well drawn out, and it finishes with a rousing concert sequence as well. Along with Cockatoo, this film was the highlight of the night for me.

That’s day two all wrapped up. Tonight’s day three festivities will see the finalist short film screenings, which promises to be an excellent line-up of flicks, followed by the Yowie awards presentation.

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