Sal and I spent an entertaining couple of evenings down in St Kilda last week, at the Film Festival. I’d picked up a leaflet about the 6 day event one lunchtime a few week’s earlier, and we’d decided to buy a couple of midweek tickets, which would get us in to as much short film as we could take over the space of two nights.
I was a bit worried that we were being overly keen when I turned up in advance to buy the passes only to be sold ones with the numbers “1” and “2” written on the back of them in felt tip, and my concerns were compounded when we turned up to the first session on our list to a half empty cinema to watch an hour and a half of Mexican shorts.
Luckily this was a one off, though, with bigger and bigger crowds for each subsequent session. I guess the filmgoers of St Kilda just don’t care about Mexican film, but I really enjoyed the selection, most of which happened to be about death for some reason. I particularly liked La Curiosa Conquista del Ampere, in which an electrician survives death to provide free electricity to his friends and family, and Rogelio, in which the protagonist refuses to accept his passing and keeps popping back out of his grave to go drinking with his mates.
The following session was the first of 16 shown throughout the festival to cover “Australia’s Top 100” short films of the year. There were significantly more people in the cinema, but sadly the quality was much lower: it opened with something about a dog playing the guitar that was so bad I didn’t even realise it was one of the films, closely followed by a pointless five minute short about a heroin addict shooting up into herself and then a small bird. In fact I only realised that the dog thing was one of the films when people started clapping at the end. It seemed somewhat unnecessary to me, but apparently this was to continue at the end of each short for the rest of the festival. Even the shockingly poor Lover’s Walk, a film about old people who couldn’t act, got a round at the end, albeit half heartedly and after a short pause.
Luckily the session was redeemed by the excellent Love Market, a well made, interesting, and moving documentary following four hilltribe girls from Vietnam who sell embroidered tat to tourists while dreaming of better lives elsewhere.
The following night we were back for more, occasionally mixing it up by sitting in a different part of the cinema. Thankfully Sessions 2 and 3 were much stronger overall. The highlight for both of us was another documentary: Christmas Lights, a hilarious look at what drives some people to cover the outside of their houses with flashing lights and assorted Christmas paraphernalia every December.
We rounded off our first St Kilda Film Festival with SoundKILDA, a collection of cracking music videos, a bit like one of those Adam Buxton BUG things, but this time hosted by the very amusing Kiwi Alan Brough off of Aussie music quiz show Spicks and Specks.
And as if 7 and a half hours of film wasn’t enough value for money out of our $40 passes, there were free drinks in the cinema bar afterwards. I think we’ll be back next year…