Good intentions fall where oft they do, by the wayside. Please accept, in place of promised MIFF 2014 posts, this visual list (harvested from daily instagram updates and tweets). At 29 films in, this is how things... looked. Past tense because already this list is out-of-date. It is without today's two films Frederick Wiseman's National Gallery (featuring The Royal Ballet’s Edward Watson and Leanne Benjamin in Machina as part of Metamorphosis: Titian 2012) and Richard Misek's love letter to Rohmer. No matter how hard one tries, you can't have it all.
Fifty-five films in seventeen days, you beautiful devil. You squeezebox, you.
Film 13: MASCULIN FÉMININ (D. Jean-Luc Godard)
"The screen would light up, and we'd feel a thrill"
"My voice doesn't match my deep and solemn thoughts"
"It wasn't that total film we carried inside ourselves"
(Playing catchup on a Wednesday morning.)
Film 14: CATCH ME DADDY (D. Daniel Wolfe)
With arms wrapped tight around me on the Yorkshire Moors, Patti Smith's Horses isn't ever go to sound the same again.
Film 15: HAN GONG-JU (D. Lee Su Jin) *
Through the mangle once more. Under a black cloud. On the heels of the bleak Catch Me Daddy, the devastation of Han Gong-Ju to banish any sense of hope.
Film 15: I HIRED A CONTRACT KILLER (D. Aki Kaurismäki) *
A whiskey first time sipped with Henri Boulanger and I am wrapped in Kaurismäki blue, listening to Joe Strummer (and the Astro-Physicians) singing Burning Lights (1990) and remembering listening to Give 'Em Enough Rope on my Walkman on the way to school. Here's to the favourites! And forlorn floral bouquets too.
Film 16: IRANIAN (D. Mehran Tamadon)
Playing catchup, yesterday's four film lineup enabled me to eavesdrop on a conversation about whether or not it is possible to find a way to co-exist.
"How can public space in Iran be shared by atheists like myself as well as by the religious, who have the monopoly of power?"—Mehran Tamadon
Film 17: WHEN EVENING FALLS ON BUCHAREST OR METABOLISM (D. Corneliu Porumboiu)
Every festival there is always one film to test my patience and to warp my perception of time. Who knew multiple eleven-minute vignettes could be so, well, long?
Film 18: GOODBYE TO LANGUAGE (D. Jean-Luc Godard)
3D glasses on, I'd follow the poetry-spouting philosopher Roxy just about anywhere. Calling it early, best canine of the fest.
Film 19: CLARA AND THE SECRET OF THE BEARS (D. Tobias Ineichen)
With my bear amulet on to ward off the MIFF wearies, a wobbly-footed bear cub in the unspoilt idyll of the Swiss Alps proves much needed antidote to the grim. Balance restored, in film and me, it will come as no surprise that I could happily watch the bear actors Hera und Nora (Pablo), und Poca (Baby-Bär) for hours as they frolic and tumble in search of bee hives.
Film 20: THE HOPE FACTORY (Kombinat Nadezhda) (D. Nataliya Meschaninova)
Ushered in to the theatre, to the Industrial city of Norilsk, the Tram Poet Malcom issues a singsong forewarning, "better you than me".
Film 21: HONEYMOON (Líbánky) (D. Jan Hrebejk)
Past sins cast long shadows, this we know is true. An unknown guest at a wedding, a red herring (for Agatha). A loose trilogy's full stop (Kawasaki's Rose (2010), Innocence (2011)), Honeymoon sadly left me longing for deft touch in place of explanatory flashback sequences.
Film 22: MANAKAMANA (D. Stephanie Spray, Pacho Velez)
The uninterrupted procession of flowers, fruit, red cloth, saffron, and incense. The plume of a (sacrificial) rooster. A newly-born kitten singing for milk. Musicians tuning their instruments and playing to the green vista. A cable car ascending and descending. This is the intimacy of travelling with pilgrims and tourists, and a tether of goats too, watching thoughts flicker on faces, and ice-creams melting faster than they can be negotiated. Eleven sequences in total, framed by endless green. What once was a hard trek now takes minutes and those minutes perfectly equal a 400-foot roll of 16-millimetre film.
Film 23: ABUSE OF WEAKNESS (Abus de Faiblesse) (D. Catherine Breillat)
If I were ever trapped inside my own body after a stroke that left one side of my body paralysed (or lost to my own mind), I could easily imagine vowing that if I was to recover, like Breillat and Huppert, "I’ll be an atomic bomb".
Film 24: SEPIDEH—REACHING FOR THE STARS (D. Berit Madsen)
Watching the brilliant night sky in in the province of Fars, Southwest Iran, and writing letters to Mr Einstein, we are not yet halfway.
Film 25: THE GREAT MUSEUM (Das Große Museum) (D. Johannes Holzhausen)
Following the camera in the fantastical Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna my only wish is that scenes lasted longer before depositing me at Pieter Brueghel’s Tower of Babel. I would love to have stayed longer and seen more of the humorous moth tally process in the hall of carriages, the polar bear rug's restorative treatment, the rows of resting sculptures on their pillow clouds, and the weeds being removed from the gallery steps. Did the camembert-feasting crow enjoy his balcony meal?
Film 26: GERMAN CONCENTRATION CAMPS FACTUAL SURVEY
"In 1944 and '45, cameramen with the Allied troops documented the horrors discovered as Europe was liberated from the Nazis. The footage was assembled for a documentary by a brilliant team that included editor Stewart McAllister, Alfred Hitchcock and Australian writer Colin Wills. But the film was difficult, progress slow and it missed its moment. By the autumn, British priorities for Germany had evolved from de-Nazification to reconstruction, and so the film was shelved, unfinished.
Nearly seven decades on, the documentary has been completed, the picture restored and the narration recorded exactly as it was written in 1945, its factual inaccuracies and political biases intact. German Concentration Camps Factual Survey is an extraordinary cultural artefact depicting the Holocaust through a 1945 lens."
As harrowing to sit through as you'd expect, or rather, as it should be, and impossible to put into words right now, but I am glad I went to see this important work now completed.
Film 27: THE STORY OF MY DEATH (Historia de la meva mort) (D. Albert Serra)
In the Carpathian ranges, flipping from rationalism in the guise of Casanova to gothic romanticism in the form of Dracula there comes a dark harvest. Film 27 takes us to the halfway point, and leaves me curious to read Casanova's intended Dictionary of Cheeses. Dusk, too, will now be forever reminiscent of undergarments and tulle. Something of moving painting, chiefly unanchored by place and period, with a microphone in the dusted wig of the lustful to record the sounds of eating, I liked the freedom of working with characters so large and legendary that one can almost do anything with them. And naturally I liked the collage approach of composing and shooting in 4:3 only halfway through the filming process to change to 2:35, that yields new and unintended compositions. Straight to my collage heart.
Film 28: JOY OF MAN'S DESIRING (Que ta joie demeure) (D. Denis Côté)
The daily, repetitive, familiar, and at times tender pas de deux between worker and machine reminds me of Fred Astaire's magnificent engine room performance of Slap That Base (in Shall We Dance, 1937). It reminds me of my own legs tap-tap-tapping under the desk to the quiet mechanical score of the photocopier machine (at RMIT). Yes, all that I loved about Beastiarie, I find in Joy of Man's Desiring (with its title in reference to Bach), and I am mesmerised by this poetic montage.
Film 29: MY NAME IS SALT (D. Farida Pacha)
Visual harvest joy. Dragonflies on a makeshift power cable. The chirrup of sparrows, and the chug-chug-chug of the pump. The rhythm of labour in echo to previous film. And the family quartet of workers in first position treading the salt pan that calls to mind Swan Lake’s cygnets. More please.
+ Because, deadlines (I)
+ Because, deadlines (II)
* It appears that in the glorious haze that is MIFF 2014, I have doubled up my numbers and have two different films listed as film 15. The total number of films here should read 30.