The Revelation Perth International Film Festival Recap

For a self-confessed film nerd, it is shameful that 2012 marked my first trip to a film festival. The Revelation Perth International Film Festival just celebrated its 15th year with a selection of documentaries, feature films, short films and film maker Q and A’s that would appeal to those who need a break from the multiplexes. Ten days worth of carefully chosen films were scheduled to be screened at the vintage, two screen Astor Theatre during July. With my pass in hand, I spent my first day at the festival discovering three documentaries.

First up was Battle For Brooklyn (Dir: Michael Galinsky and Suki Hawley, 2011), a David and Goliath battle between a Brooklyn community and a big, bad real estate company that wanted to flatten a couple of blocks of apartments and businesses to make way for a some skyscrapers and a sports arena. It is a story that directly affects a couple thousand Brooklyn residents, but this is universal story of a community coming together, and one man in particular who goes through hell and back over an eight-year fight for his rights.

Best Documentary Academy Award winner Undefeated (Dir: Daniel Lindsay and T.J. Martin, 2011) really got the emotions going and the tears flowing as it follows a dedicated volunteer coach leading his team of misfit high school students to victory. It also delves into the camaraderie, brotherhood and bond that develops between a man and a group of teenagers on the verge of manhood as he teaches them about more than football.

Rounding out my day was my festival and year highlight (so far) The Imposter (Dir: Bart Layton, 2012), which tells the staggeringly unbelievable (yet, true) tale of a 23-year-old French man successfully for a time passing himself off as a missing 16-year-old Texan. Interviews with the family, authorities and the pathological liar that fooled everyone are spliced with re-enactments of unfilmed moments. More twists are piled into the story that develops with noir-ish intrigue. A sensational yarn.

Day two started off for me with a feature film - the Danish version of Se7en. Those Who Kill: Shadow of the Past (Dir: Birger Larsen, 2011) wraps up a 10-part television mini-series about a psychiatrist and a detective on the hunt for a nasty killer. Any differences between this and any given television detective show are minimal. You might be better off to catch Law and Order, or NCIS, or CSI, or…you get the picture.

Another day, another documentary. Bad Brains: A Band in DC (Dir: Ben Logan and Mandy Stein, 2012) looks back on a revolutionary black punk rock band from that formed in the early 1980s that fused reggae into their sound. From their tiny but popular gigs in the American capital, the enthusiastic crew, move to New York with barely a dollar to their name but a huge passion for what they do. Their rise in the music industry was often hindered by unpredictable lead singer Julian Cambridge. Filled with insight and humour, this is a top music documentary.

I concluded my second day with the quirky black and white love letter to H.P. Lovecraft’s work The Whisperer in the Darkness (Dir: Sean Branney, 2011). A deliberately camp, ultra low budget outing with plenty of effort and spirit put into it but with very little energy up on the screen. This technically admiral effort is very testing of your patience with a snail’s pace unravelling of the mystery.

After my hectic two days I was able to catch up on some other movies and documentaries I missed on the big screen in my own time with some handy screeners.

Irish production My Brothers (Dir: Paul Fraser, 2010) is a well-acted and charming road trip film about three brothers dealing with their sick father’s inevitable death. The banter between the characters lift this slow moving but likeable film that takes a couple of strange side steps along the way.

Grainy, black and white outing The Color Wheel (Dir: Alex Ross Perry, 2011) is all about performances and dialogue - and boy is there some sharp, biting dialogue here. College student JR enlists her nerdy brothers help to drive her to her ex-boyfriend and professors house to pick up some of her belongings. All the pair do is bicker but their quips are acidic but hilarious. Watch out for a knock-out ending.

Rampart (Dir: Oren Moverman, 2011) drags its feet from beginning to end as it follows a corrupt cop with serious anger management issues. Not only is his attitude poisoning the streets of LA but his unconventional family as well. Woody Harrelson kills it as the dirty cop, and a decent cast surrounds him, but this thinly plotted film lumbers from scene to scene.

Mini-doco Wonder Women: The Untold Story of American Superheroines (Dir: Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, 2011) is a brief but cute look at the evolution of Wonder Woman in comics and other female superheroes in film and TV that she inspired. The women’s liberation movement also gets a look-in, which reflected the female hero’s evolution. Pleasant, but not a whole lot going on here - clearly, due to the short running time the topic doesn’t lend itself to in-depth exploration. But it is fun and comic book geeks will get a kick out of it.

Perth made mini-doco Buff (Dir: Gavin Bond and Ian Abercromby, 2012) is made by film buffs, about film buffs, for film buffs. What more could a film buff ask for? Talking heads discussing their favourite films/scenes/dialogue are broken up with amusing re-enactments by a couple of amusing local actors. Perth people may recognise some of the local interviewees but any film buff at heart will feel right at home with mates watching this modestly made gem.

An eclectic collection of films, for me it was the documentaries that stood out, each one consistently offering insight, jaw dropping revelations and a good laugh. The films, while all technically well-made, occasionally suffered from pacing issues. Can’t wait for next year’s festival.

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Julian Wright

Staff Film Critic
I am a film reviewer and blogger from Perth, Western Australia. I fell in love with cinema at an early age when I saw my first horror film and realised the impact movies can have on a person. For me it was terrifying me into an almost catatonic state. Later it was how much they made me laugh and cry. I'll watch pretty much anything and love indulging in a good film discussion.
  • Gavin

    Enjoyed your recap. Thanks for the “Buff” mention.