Perth’s Revelation Film Festival kicks off its 22nd year on July 4th, with festivities running through til July 17th. Over the two weeks of excitement and entertainment, there will be over 200 or so sessions, with 144 films being screened, and a wealth of workshops and other content running throughout the fest. With everything from VR sessions, to a swag of free events – including talks with Adam Pearson, a panel on Indie Aussie films, and a panel on Women in Film – there’s an exhaustive amount of material to sift through and decide exactly what to see.
So, with that in mind, I highly recommend grabbing a highlighter, picking up a copy of the Rev booklet, and mark down what you simply must get to during the fest. If you need a bit of a pointer, then I’ve circled out ten films which are high on my ‘to see’ list for this years fest. And, if you need a few more suggestions, then check out Xpress Mag, OutInPerth, and Music Feeds lists too.
Revelation always brings a wealth of great Australian content to the fest, and alongside top notch films like Maybe It’s Luck?, Cobby, and Locusts, is director Lucy Coleman’s feature debut film, Hot Mess. Honest, hilarious, and pure entertainment, this is – to quote myself – one of the best films of 2019. I’ve watched it twice already, and I can’t wait to watch it a third time when it screens at the fest. This one is one you’ll want to catch with a crowd thanks to the brilliant comedic writing and powerful central performance from Sarah Gaul.
If Hot Mess makes you laugh, then make sure to give International Falls a watch. Tender and genuine performances from Rachael Harris and Rob Huebel help make this story about a stand-up comedian who finds a unique bond in the middle of frozen nowhere America. Amber McGinnis’ direction is superb, managing to tease the human elements out of the laugh out loud comedy. This is the kind of film that makes Revelation a treat to attend – you see these kind of off kilter indie films that you’d never find anywhere else.
The Wind was already high up on my list of ‘films I need to see right away’ – an American western written and directed by women filmmakers, putting a gothic spin on the ‘life at the homestead’ narrative. So rarely do we see 19th Century Midwest America from the perspective of the women who had to stay home while their gun-toting husbands went off into the nowhere to do whatever it is they were doing, and The Wind looks like the ideal film to explore that life within a genre framework.
I know little about the life of Marie Colvin – an iconic war correspondent who witnessed the brutality of war in an intimate fashion. The fact I know little about Colvin is reason enough for me to put Under the Wire on the list of films to see at the festival. As the world becomes a more dangerous, war focused, battle driven, place, we should be aware of the difficulties that war correspondents face as they work to bring the atrocities of war to our attention.
At the 21st Revelation Film Festival, I saw one of the most powerful Australian films I’d seen in years – Strange Colours. I remember walking into the cinema knowing little about the film, and walking out shaken by what I’d seen. With that in mind, I know little about I Go Further Under, other than that it’s an Australian film that looks at an isolated island (De Witt island) off the coast of an equally isolated island (Tasmania), focusing on the solitude that such remoteness affords. I’m positively tingling with anticipation for this film.
Years ago, Revelation screened a documentary titled Yakona – a film about the San Marcos river in Texas. It showed the life that thrived within the river, with a whole ecosystem and world that existed because of the river. It’s stuck with me longer than I ever expected it to, and it’s this reason alone that Aquarela is on my list for this years fest. Filmed at 96-frames-per-second, this is a documentary about the power of water. This is the kind of film that you’d catch late night on SBS, wishing you’d been able to see it on a big screen. Well, sure enough, you can do exactly that at this years Revelation festival.
Growing up, I knew little about the world of jazz music other than the fact that plenty seemed to disregard the genre of music because of its feverish scattered nature. That in itself was what enticed me about jazz – it’s free form, it’s free flowing, and it allows someone like Miles Davis to express himself in unexpected, almost unbelievable ways. In the realm of music, there are few artists as grand and powerful as Miles Davis, and this one off screening of this documentary will no doubt provide a wealth of entertainment for those of us who live for his music.
I know I keep bringing up films that I’ve seen at previous Rev’s as a reason for putting this or that film on this list, but there’s a reason for that – the curation of Revelation has continually worked as a ‘if you like this, then you like that’ suggestion roll from festival to festival. If you liked Yakona, you’ll like Aquarela. If you liked Assisted Living, then you’ll like International Falls. So, when I sat down to watch Ulrich Seidl’s masterwork Safari in 2017, I did so knowing that I was in good hands. The subject matter isn’t one that I’m particularly interested in, but if Jack Sargeant and Richard Sowada say it’s worth a look, then I’m going to give it a watch. So, on the basis of having seen and loved Safari, I’m putting Stuffed onto my suggestions list. A documentary about contemporary taxidermy, with the modern world of taxidermy given a grand look into what’s possible with the art. On paper, this may not usually be my thing, but I trust Jack and Richard, and that’s why I can’t wait to see Stuffed.
Buster Keaton is, arguably, one of the great cinematic artists of all time. The General is a propulsive, exhaustively entertaining, rollick of a film that thrives on the frenetic energy of Keaton. The Great Buster is directed by another cinematic great, Peter Bodganovich, who brings a look at the comedy of Keaton through a wealth of interviews with cinematic icons. It’s rare to get the opportunity to see Keaton’s work on the big screen, and while this is a documentary about Keaton, it’s your best chance to catch a glimpse of his breathtaking stunts writ large.
Director Penny Lane is no stranger to Revelation, with her previous film Nuts! landing a few years ago and surprising everyone with an off kilter look at American history. On the basis of Nuts! (a doco about a man who attempts to cure impotence by surgically implanting goat testicles into the afflicted man – it gets weirder than that by the way), Hail Satan? is a must see. Lane turns her camera to the Satanic Temple, no doubt delivering as deep a dive into the unexpected and weird as she did with Nuts! Penny Lane’s work has often been the sort of film that you watch and immediately rush out and tell your friends about, and Hail Satan? looks exactly like that. Enjoy.
Finally, for this years Revelation Film Festival, there are a handful of science-fiction classic films getting a minor big screen revival – with screenings of Alien, The Andromeda Strain, and Things to Come joining the New Zealand classic The Quiet Earth. Sure, the other films are well worth watching on the big screen, but my tip is to catch the simply stunning, and unfairly forgotten, The Quiet Earth. Focusing on a man who wakes up in New Zealand, only to find that he’s the last man on earth, this is a refreshing take on the apocalyptic world genre. There are images in this film which will simply stun on the big screen – especially the final shot.
So that’s it! My picks for this years Revelation Film Festival. The festival itself runs from July 4th through to July 17th, so make sure to head along and catch a great film.
If you like what you see at the festival, make sure to subscribe to the Revelation Film Festival podcast, where I interview a few of the filmmakers whose films are being screened at the festival.