Friday, July 31, 2009

MIFF Flicrit: Empty Nest

Fifty something men have various oral fantasies but lusting after your dentist is a novel way of exploring a mid-life crisis.
Empty Nest: fatuous fantasies
Another Cinema Takes review from the Melbourne International Film Festival 2009.

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MIFF 2009: North Korean Science Sings

It's refreshing to hear songs about Science, even if they do honour the "General" aka Kim Jong-il. The Schoolgirl's Diary is the first North Korean feature film to be distributed internationally.

The state of their film making in 2006 only outshone their Science. Let's hope their nuclear and missile industries are similar fizzers.

For the Flicrit from MIFF 2009, please see:

The Schoolgirl's Diary: Propaganda 101

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

MIFF Flicrits: Kill Daddy Goodnight

Another Cinema Takes review from the Melbourne International Film Festival 2009:

Kill Daddy Goodnight: not just history

Kill Daddy Goodnight (Das Vaterspiel), an Austrian feature, draws in the viewer gradually. Director/screenwriter Michael Glawogger has created a holocaust film with a difference. The Jewish victims are Lithuanian as is their exterminator. The horror is mostly “off-stage” without the detailed re-enactment customary in this genre.

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Bayside Views: Red Bluff

It's comforting to know that sea levels will have to rise a lot before Red Bluff is submerged. HMVS Cerberus will struggle to survive, with or without climate change.

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MIFF Flicrits: Home & About Elly

Two more Cinema Takes reviews from the Melbourne International Film Festival 2009:

Home: living besdie the fast laneThere's no place Home until one day the expressway that they’ve been living happily beside for ten years is finally opened. Separated from their access road and pounded by traffic noise, an outwardly well-adjusted family comes apart.

Not really About Elly

About Elly is not just a different and highly relevant perspective on urban, middle class Iranians. It’s about the nature of truth and what it means for our closest relationships.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Oh My God! Oh My God! A short film gem

Cross post from Cinema Takes:

Oh My God! Oh My God!

The short film at the Melbourne International Film Festival before North was a 9 minute gem.

The Norwegian Film Institute sums it up extremely well:

Oh My God! is a humorous observation of children´s interpretations and experiences of sexuality. The film also looks back through grown-up eyes at the reality of being part of the in-crowd” and the lengths to which one is prepared to go to become a respected member. But first and foremost Oh my God! is a film about the orgasm.
It's about three 11 year old girls exploring their sexuality, in particular their idea of orgasms.

It's been described as courageous, taboo-breaking and provocative. It was certainly funny!

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Monday, July 27, 2009

MIFF Flicrits: Milk of Sorrows and North

Two Cinema Takes reviews from the Melbourne International Film Festival 2009:

Milk Of Sorrows: walking close to the walls (Peru)

North: Battling the Blues (Norway)

Both excellent foreign language films.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Melbourne International Film Festival: all publicity...

The controversy over the withdrawal of Chinese films from the Melbourne International Film Festival seems to be great for business.

The head of the Melbourne International Film Festival says the event will not bow to pressure over the films it shows, after its website was hacked into.

A Chinese national hacked into the website calling for it to dump the documentary Ten Conditions of Love, which tells the story of Rebiya Kadeer - a figurehead for China's Uighur population - who is seen as a criminal by the Chinese Government.
MIFF 'sticking to guns' over Uighur film
Ken Loach's boycott of the festival because of Israeli government sponsorship has not dented its appeal either. If the two sessions we attended today were any indication, business is thriving. Sellout attendances is a gross understatement.

The free publicity has been priceless.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Sauce for the goose: film festival politics

Cross post from Cinema Takes:

So what's sauce for the goose...

You're a filmmaker who objects to a particular government's actions. Then boycott film festivals with whom they are connected.

You're a country that objects to a film festival that has entries critical of your government. Boycott it.

The Goose:

British director Ken Loach has withdrawn his film Looking for Eric from the Melbourne International Film Festival in protest of Israeli government funding.
UK director pulls out of Melbourne film fest over Israel funding
The Gander:
THE Melbourne International Film Festival is reeling after the withdrawal of three Chinese films in what appears to be retaliation for the festival's backing of a documentary about exiled Uighur leader Rebiya Kadeer.
China pulls films out of festival
Once upon a time the debate was about sporting boycotts such as the 1971 Springbok rugby tour. Mixing politics and sport. The Moscow and Los Angeles Olympic Games were the main casualties.

The dilemma: To protest against Israel you forgo the Uighur documentary. Rather than bin your membership of the Melbourne International Film Festival, the only alternative seems to be to lobby the Festival to end sponsorship by foreign governments or political organisations.

That's the course I'll be taking. Any thoughts?

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tjilatjirrin: now at EngageMedia

To those whose access to YouTube is restricted:

If you wish to view Tjilatjirrin: What’s in a name? it is now available at EngageMedia.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Tjilatjirrin: What’s in a name?

On 11 July 2009 Bayside City Council (Melbourne, Australia) renamed Tulip Street Reserve as part of NAIDOC (National Aboriginal and Islander Day Observance Committee) week.

The new name is Tjilatjirrin.

On a wet, miserably cold Saturday morning locals and visitors crowded into a meeting room at the reserve to celebrate the unveiling of a new plaque. In heavy rain footballers from Dandenong demonstrated the ancient aboriginal game of Marn Grook on one of the wind swept ovals. The sports complex includes lawn bowls, soccer, and baseball.

Council had originally rejected the name because it might prove to be too hard to pronounce. The local newspaper reported:

Councillors initially rejected the new moniker, saying it wasn’t required and was too hard to pronounce.

That decision was overturned just a week later when councillors voted to support the indigenous title after most of the ground’s sports clubs lobbied in favour of the new name.
Come play with us at Tjilatjirrin Bayside Leader 7 July 2009
Their online report includes a clip on how to say the name Tjilatjirrin, which means to play together.

Tjilatjirrin: Playing together is a video of the opening ceremony festivities.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Flick Crit: Noodle

Latest film review at Cinema Takes is Noodle: a bit hard to swallow

It’s a lightweight but enjoyable Israeli comedy/drama. Like classic Shakespearean comedy the relationships are confused, with multiple misunderstandings.

The plot is a bit hard to swallow but it’s worth a look if you need cheering up.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Travels in Old Europe

We spent nearly seven weeks in Spain during May and June followed by 11 days in France. Highlights included week-long walks in the Alpujarras and the Pyrenees but more of that in other posts.

Old Europe battling recession

Spain seems to spending a lot of Euros on public works in response to the recession and high unemployment. The whole country is a construction site, with many new buildings under way as well as restorations of older ones. They might even finish Gaudi’s Barcelona temple this century. The roof is on at last!

The remaining single-lane highways are being replaced by major expressways. Most of these are toll roads that the truckies avoid, taking the slower free ones. Cost rather than time pressure seems to be the priority after the financial downturn.

Spanish drivers are among the most considerate we’ve come across. They stop for pedestrians at crossings and rarely use their horns. The exception was Barcelona where gridlock is the order of the peak hour and locals drive their scooters recklessly. Expect at least one to run every red light a couple of seconds late. We were rear-ended whilst stationary by a Land Rover driver suffering a touch of road rage. He seemed to deliberately nudge us, perhaps a bit harder than intended. He jumped out of the car looking for an argument but was disappointed when I said I didn’t speak Spanish. The car in front of us was double parked not us. Anyway it was the only bump in 3000 kilometres around Spain.

Tour de ...

In Spain tourism appeared to be mostly locals, with few places overcrowded. There were plenty of buskers and street performance artists but not as many beggars as we found in Paris. The Metro buskers are likely to be the unemployed rather than the real thing we’ve experienced on past visits.

France had lots more overseas tourists. Being later in the season, cheap airfares and the decline in swine flu hysteria may have accounted for this. Two new museums were highlights in Paris. Firstly, the Musée Quai Branly, the new museum near the Eiffel Tower, specialises in indigenous art, cultures and civilizations from Africa, Asia, Oceania, and the Americas. It also features Australian indigenous artists, whose work decorates the administration building.

Le Musée de la Cinémathèque française, located in a Frank Geary designed building, is a must for cinema lovers.

Sacred sights

The Sacré-Coeur Basilica and the surrounding Montmartre area were not just extremely crowded. We were disgusted by the hordes of visitors partying on the steps and lawns. Early morning is the best time to visit the church if you can put up with the rubbish, broken bottles and smell of urine.

Speaking of sacred places, we visited Jim Morrison’s grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery again after a sixteen year gap. There is still a gendarme on duty but the monument is looking tacky, though much of the graffiti on other graves has been removed. I was more interested in seeing Oscar’s Wilde’s. Sadly the new tomb by sculptor Jacob Epstein is defaced with lipstick kisses and graffiti. There is no guard, despite the fact that it has been declared a French National Monument.

As Wilde said, “There is only one thing in life worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.” I’m sure they’ll be talking about him long after the Doors are less than a footnote on the 20th Century.

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Clean Feed live pilot report imminent

The following is part of an email from Wayne Swan's electorate officer Finn McCarthy-Adams in response to concerns raised about the proposed internet filtering regime. Its authorship is unclear. It is provided without comment except to hope that the release of the forthcoming report on the trials will be thorough and complete:

ISP filtering

A part of the Government’s plan is to examine the introduction of ISP-level filtering for RC material. Content defined under the Scheme as RC material includes child sexual abuse imagery, bestiality, sexual violence, detailed instruction in crime, violence or drug use and/or material that advocates the doing of a terrorist act.

The Government is also considering additional ISP content filtering options for those families who wish to have such a service.

The Government’s policy is being developed through an informed and considered approach, including industry consultation and close examination of overseas models to assess their suitability for Australia.

Filtering technologies have been adopted on a voluntary basis by ISPs in a number of countries including the United Kingdom, Canada, Sweden, Norway and Finland, predominantly to filter child pornography. In these countries, ISP filtering has not affected internet performance to a noticeable level.

Laboratory trial and live pilot

ACMA has completed a laboratory trial of a sample of the available ISP filtering technologies. The trial looked specifically at the effect of a range of filter products on network performance, effectiveness in identifying and blocking illegal content, scope to filter non-web traffic and the ability to customise the filter to the requirements of different end‑users. The laboratory trial indicated that ISP filtering products have developed in their performance and effectiveness since they were last assessed in 2005.

The Government is now undertaking a live pilot, which will provide valuable information on the effectiveness and efficiency of filters installed in an actual ISP network. A report of findings from the pilot is scheduled to be available mid 2009.

The Government is committed to working closely with the internet industry to address the concerns of network degradation, over and under blocking, circumvention and costs. These concerns will be carefully considered during the pilot and will further inform the Government’s cyber-safety policy.

The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy (the Department) has prepared material on a list of frequently asked questions (FAQs) about ISP filtering. This list is available on the Department’s website at

ACMA blacklist

The existing ACMA blacklist is a list of internet web pages which are defined as ‘prohibited’ under Australian legislation. The list has been in place since 2000 and currently contains around 1100 URLs.

The ACMA blacklist is developed by complaints from the public about online content to ACMA. ACMA does not arbitrarily assess and classify content. Online content is assessed in accordance with the Scheme. The Scheme was established by the Classification (Publications, Films and Computer Games) Act 1995. Content, which is the subject of a complaint, is assessed by ACMA and/or referred to the National Classification Board for classification.

The ACMA complaints process has been established by the Australian Parliament through the Broadcasting Services Act 1992 and has been in place since 2000. If content is found to be prohibited and is hosted in Australia (i.e. located on a computer or server in Australia), ACMA will direct the content provider to remove or prevent access to the content.

If content is found to be prohibited and is hosted overseas, ACMA cannot have the material taken down but it must add the material to its blacklist. This blacklist is then provided to 14 PC filter vendors who use the list in their filtering products.

ACMA officers and Classification Board members applying the Scheme are highly trained and apply criteria set out in the Scheme’s legislative framework. Further, decisions made by the Classification Board can be reviewed by the Classification Review Board.

The scope of the definition of prohibited content in legislation cannot be expanded without changes to legislation being passed by Parliament, and the Government does not intend doing this.

Leaking of the ACMA blacklist

Purported versions of the ACMA blacklist of URLs have been placed on a website. The leaking and publication of a list, which includes RC URLs, is irresponsible and undermines efforts to improve cyber-safety and create a safe online environment for children.

It should be noted that the original version of the leaked list apparently contains 2395 URLs where the ACMA blacklist consisted of around 1100 URLs at the relevant time. ACMA advises that while there are some common URLs to those on the ACMA blacklist, there are URLs on the original leaked list that have never been the subject of a complaint or ACMA investigation, and have never been included on the ACMA blacklist.

ACMA is continuing to investigate this matter. I note that it is an offence under the Commonwealth Criminal Code to use the internet to make available child pornography or child abuse material.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Flick Crit: Disgrace - bleak morality tale

Back in town after 8 weeks in Spain and France without a cinema visit. Broke the drought with Disgrace, an Australian film about South Africa.

Both J.M. Coetzee’s novel and its film adaptation leave their audience wanting more answers. It is a confronting and brutal tale of life in modern South Africa. The message is clear. There are no simple solutions.
Full review is at Cinema Takes: Disgrace - bleak morality tale

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