See above for full audio, excerpts below
On the Festival theme: ‘Change Your View, Change Your World’
“It’s looking at the ability of cinema to alter your perspective. In some ways this can happen on a grand scale, this can happen in a way that a film can have a very particular and solid impact on a given situation. It could be for instance like a film we screened a few years ago called Blackfish which really led to a change in the way Seaworld for instance conducts itself, or going back a few years a film like Rachid Bouchareb’s Days of Glory which changed the French government’s policy towards pensions for soldiers from former French colonies.
At the same time it also speaks to how one person watching a film can be changed in some way, it can change their world, it can change the way they look at the world, that’s what film festivals in particular give people a chance to experience. We have 250 films from 60 countries playing at the Festival and that’s really a vast look at what’s happening in world cinema today. I really do believe in the ability of film to change people’s perspectives and I think that the films that we have in many ways are arguing for a better world, we hope that they have some impact on the people watching them.”
On the Opening and Closing Night selections
“We are opening with Goldstone which is directed by Ivan Sen, a fantastic Australian filmmaker, I think one of this country’s most talented filmmakers. It’s not quite a sequel to Mystery Road, its more the continuing adventure of Detective Jay Swan, played by Aaron Pedersen who we met in Mystery Road. What I like so much about the film is that it plays very much like an effective thriller, you’re really on the edge of your seat, it’s a very gripping film, but at the same time its looking at some very serious issues concerning this country, its history, its present, it looks at the environment, at politics, at corruption, it brings in all these various elements. It’s very much concerned with land rights, with the Indigenous peoples of this country and I love how it brings all of this together in a film that’s really gripping and energetic, it’s fantastic and we’re very delighted to open the Festival with the world premiere of Goldstone.
Love and Friendship is a very different film, it’s by Whit Stillman, based on a Jane Austen novella, and it’s just this hilariously funny film, and quite unusual in that it’s a period film but it has this really fresh American, independent sensibility, and it’s very, very funny and features wonderful performances by Kate Beckinsale in particular, Chloe Sevigny, Stephen Fry, it’s a great cast and I think people are going to have a really fun night on their closing night.”
On the Focus on Ireland
“We’re doing a focus on Ireland which I’m really happy about and we’re going to have a bunch of Irish filmmakers here to present the screenings. It’s going to be a really great country focus because it’s such a strong year for Irish cinema already with a film like Room and Lenny Abrahamson doing so very well on the festival circuit and also in various awards. We have a collection of quite wonderful films, we have really looked for in this small selection to carry the best of Irish cinema we possibly could.
We have a film playing in the Competition of the Festival called Viva which I think is really an incredibly heart-warming but very serious film too that’s set strangely for an Irish film in drag clubs in Havana and is about a young man who works as a hairdresser in one of the clubs but really wants to become a performer and when his father who he’s long estranged from is released from prison he doesn’t take too kindly to his son’s choice of profession. It’s about the clash between those two but it’s really a very heart-warming and very funny film and I think it’s going to play incredibly well at the Festival.
We have a film called Sing Street by John Carney, it’s a wonderful film about music and growing up, set in Dublin in the 80s, and it has great songs, a great soundtrack, wonderful young actors and I think that’s going to be a real hit at the festival. We’re showing Michael Collins for the 20th anniversary, I think that will be a very powerful screening, and we have a range of documentaries too, we have Atlantic, The Queen of Ireland and also Mom and Me.”
On VIPs attending the Festival
“We have both the Director of Queen of Ireland and also the protagonist Panti Bliss will be here with us. We expect to have around 200 filmmakers and film professionals here with the Festival and it’s a great opportunity for the audience to interact with filmmakers. I think that’s what makes the Festival a festival, this ability for both filmmakers to hear firsthand from the audience just after seeing the film to say, hey, what did you mean by that, or we loved your film, or we didn’t quite like it or understand why you did that, I think it’s a wonderful possibility for exchange.”
On Land of Mine
“It’s a really impressive film, Land of Mine, by the Danish Director Martin Zandvliet. It’s an unusual war film because its set in the aftermath of war and I guess that’s what makes it very powerful, it shows what happens in the aftermath of the war, and what the consequences of retribution are and in this case you have a bunch of very young people, young German soldiers, teenagers, conscripted at the tail-end of the war, many of them have never seen combat, were taken as prisoners of war, and then forced to remove landmines from Scandinavian beaches, hundreds of thousands of landmines. These are young children really who have no idea how to do this and it’s really a very powerful film that looks at these concepts of retribution and forgiveness and redemption.”
On Girl Asleep
“It’s a very sweet film that looks into the mind of a teenage girl, she’s having a terrible time on her birthday, there’s all this embarrassment and mean people at school and being bullied and boys and all these things going through her head and she creates a marvellous, fantastical world in which to escape. The film looks really beautiful, the design of the film is incredible, it takes us into a very unusual space, I think it’s going to play very well at the Festival.”
“It’s a remarkable film about Anthony Weiner the Congressman who was a very successful politician, a much admired politician who really seemed to be fighting the good fight and was then caught in a sexting scandal, resigned, some years later decides to make a political comeback and run for Mayor of New York and unfortunately this campaign is also scuppered by another sexting scandal. It’s a ridiculous turn of events, you think how could this guy possibly do this again, its madness, but at the same time you have to marvel at the level of access the filmmakers had. I don’t think it would normally happen but in this case two factors lead to that. One was that the filmmakers, one of them worked on the Weiner campaign before this and secondly they were allowed to make the film on the condition they also made campaign materials for the Weiner campaign so they had this extraordinary access.
The result is really amazing, it’s a very funny film, it’s a film that makes you cringe, it’s a film that looks at politics and campaigning but also about how political campaigns manage the media and also how the media manage political campaigns, so while its very much about one politician and one man and one family I think it says a lot about how politics and the media work today all around.”
On Swiss Army Man
“It was very controversial at Sundance because there was a real clamour to get tickets for this film, it was really a big deal to get into the film, I was one of the people who had tickets for the first screening and I was in the cinema but I got kicked out because there weren’t any more seats, it was this real rush on the day and then the film started and within minutes loads of people left and it triggered a mass walk-out but at the end of the Festival the Directors won the best Director prize at Sundance and I think it’s really deserved because the film is incredibly silly, but it’s also incredibly innovative, it’s very cleverly made and beneath the silliness there’s a real emotional core. Daniel Radcliffe plays a corpse through the entire film, but its brilliant acting, I think it’s the best corpse acting you’ll ever see in your life. How audiences will react to it, I’m not sure, I think some people are going to absolutely love the film and some people are going to really hate the film and I think that’s quite OK. I hope people stay through the film because I really do think it’s very cleverly made and there is this emotional core to it that’s fully revealed at the end of the film.”
On Captain Fantastic
“It’s a film with Viggo Mortensen, he plays a father who’s decided to raise his children outside mainstream society. They live in the woods, they don’t go to school, they’re taught by their parents and alongside let’s say their formal education they’re also taught hunting and martial arts and a bunch of other things you wouldn’t learn at school. A tragedy strikes the family and they’re forced to contemplate whether they have to return to mainstream society or continue in this quite incredible world they live in. It’s a family that doesn’t celebrate Christmas but celebrates Noam Chomsky day for instance so it’s a quite alternative life they’re living but one they find quite satisfying. There’s a challenge that comes up, do they continue in this way or give in and reintegrate, and its beautifully acted by Viggo Mortensen in particular and it’s a really lovely film about family bonds and doing the right thing and how complicated knowing what that is can be.”
On Australian entries
We have a number of Australian films in the Festival, we have Embedded by Stephen Sewell, that’s a world premiere. In the feature film section we have Beast by Sam and Tom McKeith, that film opened at the Toronto Film Festival last year and it’s also a very striking first film, we have a number of wonderful Australian documentaries, Gillian Leahy’s film Baxter and Me is one of them, but there’s a range of them. We have ten playing in the competition of Australian documentaries presented by the Documentary Australia Foundation and a few documentaries that are Australian also playing in the international documentaries section. There’s a strong body of Australian work at the Festival this year including short films and I hope people alongside the international films will also see a fair amount of the Australian offerings we have this year.”
On the Official Festival Competition
“I’m very proud of the Competition this year, we have 12 incredible films, some are straight from Cannes, and some of them have just won awards in Cannes, for instance Xavier Dolan’s film It’s Only the End of the World won the Grand Prix at Cannes and it’s wonderful to have films like his, Psycho Raman by Anurag Kashyap, Aquarius by Kleber Mendonca Filho, all coming to us straight from Cannes. I think in each of the Competition films you’re going to see something really striking, really seeing a Director taking chances, looking at new ways of confronting issues or new styles in filmmaking, I think each of these filmmakers in some way are really moving the art form forward and I can’t wait to share those films with the audience.”
Glen Falkenstein On 2ser