Perth’s greatest film festival celebrates its 21st year with another cracker line-up of films, seminars, and much, much more. Yep, it’s Revelation Film Festival time again. It feels like it was just yesterday when we looked back at the first twenty years of the festival, and now we’re looking forward to the next decade of this superb film festival.
And damn, what a year it is.
This year, Revelation branches outside the cinema and raises the roof with a series of kick ass music days. Running throughout the fest, Rev will house a huge array of concerts and workshops focused on music. Starting off with Alexander Hacke & Danielle Picciotto performing Crossroads on the 6th of July, and wrapping up with Pat Chow, Jamilla, Terrible Signal, and Mal De Mer at Mojos on the 15th, you’ve got a huge selection to chose from if your ears need a workout. Find out more right here.
Maybe music isn’t your thing, and maybe you’d rather find out how you can engage with film in different ways. If that’s the case, then the great array of film conferences on offer will scratch that itch. This years line-up is particularly great, with notable panels such as Women in Horror (with Lost Gully Road director Donna McRae joining Dr Lindsey Hallam to discuss the role of women in horror), Filmmakers Approach the Music Documentary (with Nicole Wegner, Stuart Swezey, Robert Clem and Brooke Silcox making up the panel), and the one of personal interest to me, Film Criticism in the 21st Century (if you come to this one, let me know and I’ll shout you a beer), and literally a truck load of free events to satiate your film going mind.
So, music, panels, great events. That’s all of what you can expect from this years Revelation Film Festival. It runs from July 5th through to July 18th. It happens in Perth. It’s great. You need to be there.
Who am I kidding, you can also expect an age of great films too. It’s a film festival after all.
There’s 185 individual films. There’s 200+ screenings. There’s films from 30 countries. 43% of the films are directed by women. The only thing missing is a time machine to be able to actually fit everything in.
We’ll start off with the highlight of the festival. The one film that you need to set aside time to go and see. The one film that you’ll wish there was more than one screening of so you could go for one more spin and experience it all over again. The one film that defines the roaring aggression, fear, anger, and antagonism that’s fuelling Australia right now and says: no more.
Soda_Jerks Terror Nullius is a stunning piece of work. Terror Nullius takes Australian cinema, television, pop culture, politics, history, and society, and slams it all together into a blender and demands you consume the result. This is take no prisoners cinema. This is essential cinema. At once, you’ll be laughing, at the next point you’ll be crying. This will sell out. Get your ticket now, because once this screening is done, you may never get to see this brilliance again.
(Oh, and any film that bundles a troop of kick ass woman against King Misogynist Mel Gibson, and lets them loose on him, is well worth your time.)
Producer Brooke Silcox returns to Rev after one of the best films of last years festival – Meal Tickets. Sticking in the realm of music, RocKabul, is the directorial debut from Travis Beard. If you found yourself in awe of how great Meal Tickets was; then you’re not prepared for the brilliance of RocKabul.
Travis Beard focuses his camera on the only heavy metal band in Afghanistan – District Unknown – and follows their journey through a war torn country. The band lives in a world that is rife with political and social problems that threaten to take their music away from them, and worse, could possibly kill them. If this all sounds dark and depressing – rest assured, it is not.
Raucous, energetic, thrilling, inspiring, and most importantly – downright essential. Don’t miss this film.
I keep repeating this about Revelation, but it’s worthwhile repeating when it comes to Caniba – it is the festival to find films that you’ll not find anywhere else. Whether it be the visceral Ulrich Seidl documentary Safari, or the intoxicating and nauseating documentary All Things Ablaze, you’re likely to stumble into a film that grabs you by the collar and says ‘sit the fuck down and watch this’.
Caniba looks to be the film that will fill that category this year. From filmmakers Verena Paravel and Lucien Castaing-Taylor (Leviathan), this film takes a look at the Japanese cannibal Issei Sagawa. Caniba won the Special Jury Prize at the Venice Film Festival, and will have its Australian Premiere at Rev. It’s also scheduled for two 10:30am sessions, so make sure you’ve had your breakfast early and don’t miss this one.
Look, the trailer for Foaming Node makes the roof of my mouth itch, it makes the bottom of my feet want to vomit, it created a really bizarre hissing noise in my ears, and my eyes wept honey. It’s disturbing. It’s unnatural. It’s bizarre.
But, it’s also one of the films that programmer Jack Sargeant has said ‘you must see this film’. And because a few years ago Jack and co-programmer Richard Sowada slapped a truly unique (seriously, there will never be a film like it) film onto the bill – Atmo HorroX -, Foaming Node is on this list. It’s the sort of film that makes Revelation the festival it is. Cinema is not meant to make you feel comfortable and safe. Cinema is meant to challenge you. And really, look at that face only a mother could love up there, looking at it, you know you’re going to be uncomfortable and challenged. So, slap this onto your schedule.
Director Lynne Ramsay is one of the finest modern directors around. Actor Joaquin Phoenix is, arguably, the finest actor of his generation. Combine the two together and you get this intense piece of work. Really, the name Lynne Ramsay should be enough to get you through the door. And, if you don’t know Lynne Ramsay, then you’ll know Joaquin Phoenix, and his presence will get you there.
Running at ninety minutes long, You Were Never Really Here, follows a traumatised veteran who finds missing girls for a living. The film received a seven-minute standing ovation at Cannes. I don’t know what else to say about this film other than, do not miss this.
Australia has a pretty colourful history with censorship, with films that arrived in Australia between 1951 and 1978 having scenes routinely removed from them to save the public from seeing whatever the censor deemed to be unsanitary. Filmmaker and archivist Sari Braithwaite presents the footage that was cut in this documentary, allowing us to explore what was considered risqué or too much for audiences of that era.
Through this exploration of what was removed, we are left to ask – what role does the censor play in society, and how detrimental are they to the ongoing cultural discussions we have in regards to cinema. This is one for the Australian film history buffs out there.
Director Debra Granik has been mostly radio silent since her Best Picture nominated work Winter’s Bone brought Jennifer Lawrence to the world. She returns to narrative filmmaking with the help of perennially undervalued actor Ben Foster, and kiwi actress Thomasin Harcourt McKenzie, who play father and daughter respectively.
Playing like a more realistic, grounded version of Captain Fantastic, Leave No Trace looks to be the assessment of the intoxicating nature of capitalist society, and how hard it is to live your own life, by your own rules, in a world that demands conformity.
When one of the greatest Australian film critics has this to say about a film, you add it to your list of ‘must see cinema’:
“The Babadook meets The Entity in the most original and powerful Australian haunted house film in years.”- Alexandra Heller-Nicholas
Revelation has always supported Australian horror films, so it’s great to see Lost Gully Road receive a place alongside horror classics such as The Loved Ones and Van Diemen’s Land in the history of this great festival. To make this screening even better, director Donna McRae will be in attendance for Q&A sessions.
Director Chloe Zhao has sprung on the scene seemingly out of nowhere with her second feature, The Rider. Following the story of Brady – played by newcomer Brady Jandreau -, The Rider is about a rodeo cowboy who has his life thrown into disarray after an accident. Jandreau has already received countless accolades for his natural performance, but equally so is Zhao who has crafted a film full of incredible performances from first time actors.
The Rider was a surprise nominee at the Film Independent Spirit Awards, receiving nominations for Direction, Editing, Cinematography and Best Feature. This was already high on my list of films that I was eager to watch in 2018, and with four screenings at Rev, I have a feeling I’ll be catching it more than once.
It was hard to decide whether to suggest checking out the Hal Ashby retrospective, or the new clean presentation of Razorback. Ashby’s work is superb, but narrowing down one film out of the bunch proved difficult, so here we are with one of the best Australian horror films – Razorback.
Sure, the giant pig is one reason to see this on the big screen, but if you’ve only ever seen Razorback on a grainy VHS tape or an old DVD, then you’ve probably missed out on seeing the phenomenal cinematography by Dean Semler in all its glory. Late night film screenings at Rev are always a riot, and chucking on Razorback at an hour to midnight sounds like the exact kind of thing you need to wind down a day of hard core film watching.
So that’s it. That’s my suggestions for this years Revelation Film Festival. I struggled to not include about twenty more films here, but what can you do, you’ve got to be concise and clear and I hope that this list alone has given you something to check out while the fest runs from July 5th through to July 18th.
Make sure to use the hashtag #RevFilmFest on social media.