Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Aussies are Toronto Bound

It's always interesting to see how Australian films fare on the international festival circuit. Of the four biggies - Toronto, Berlin, Cannes and Venice - it is only the first two that seem to ever have a decent representation. Cannes occasionally welcomes a local film in one of their prestige sidebars (I went back ten years and Jane Campion's Bright Star was the only Palme d'Or nominee) while, if I remember correctly, the Venice Film Festival is stingy towards out product year in year out.

The Toronto International Film Festival just released its full roster and while the Aussie contingent can't reach last year's tally, six titles are going to be showing, which is good news for all. Last year TIFF audiences were let in on The Loved Ones and rewarded it with the Midnight Madness top honours. It has yet to be released here in Australia (it recently received a new Halloween-inspired release date that, sadly, it is no longer eligible for this year's AFI awards), one film that did get a release was Mao's Last Dancer, which became one of the highest grossing Australian films of all time. Let's see what TIFF 2010 has in store.

Blame is another film that recently changed release dates and, thus, is no longer competing in the AFI Awards. Nevertheless, this Perth-filmed thriller tells of a group of teens/twenty-somethings who decide to commit the perfect murder, but are brought undone by messy mistakes. It stars Kestie Morassi, Sophie Lowe, Simon Stone, Damian de Montemas and Mark Leonard Winter and is directed by Michael Henry. I didn't hear much out of it's MIFF premiere, unfortunately.

Controversial teen high school drama Wasted on the Young will be screening at TIFF. It sorta sounds like 2:37 mated with Gasper Noe and several people who saw it at the Sydney Film Festival were not to pleased while others were suitably impressed. It's local release is set for early 2011 and I wonder how an international audience will respond to it. Completely different is Louise Alston's Jucy, the director's follow up to the charming romantic comedy All My Friends are Leaving Brisbane. I really enjoyed that one, but the trailer for Jucy looks just abominable (watch the trailer below). Naturally, I am now intrigued to see what it was that got it accepted into TIFF.

Two documentaries will screen, one of which is Mark Hartley's Machete Maidens Unleashed, which recently had its world premiere at MIFF and which I reviewed. It's probably got a subject matter that would be of interest to a more global lot of viewers, but the movie isn't as good as Hartley's first doco Not Quite Hollywood. The second documentary screening is Mother of Rock: Lillian Roxon, which I had never even heard about. Filmink describes it as "a fascinating insight into the life of the acclaimed rock journalist and an overview of the 1960s record industry." Okay then.

The biggest title, however, that most of us Aussie cinephiles are looking for at Toronto will be Griff the Invisible. As far as I can recall, Griff will be the first locally made superhero movie since The Return of Captain Invincible in 1983 (starring Alan Arkin, no less). This new film from first time director Leon Ford stars Ryan Kwanten (sure to get some True Blood fans in the audience for this one) and Maeve Dermody. We recently marvelled at some images from the film and I'm loving the festival poster that was designed by, of course, Jeremy Saunders.

We'll see how they all go once they've screened, but here's hoping they're all good and the Canadians like them.

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