Rolling on for another huge year of great content is
Australia’s finest documentary film festival – the Melbourne Documentary Film Festival. With a huge wealth of content
and guests, with subjects stretching from remote Australia, all the way to
Hollywood, there’s something for everyone at this years festival. While I could
point at the Uwe Boll documentary, Fuck
You All: The Uwe Boll Story, that screens with a Uwe Boll Q&A, or the
raucous music film Desolation Center,
or even a doco about an unreleased Peter Sellers film, I won’t do that! No! I’m
going to run down the ten films that would be on my viewing list.
Make sure to check out the festival
guide, and pick up your tickets as the festival kicks off on July 19th
and runs through to the 30th.
I’m a sucker for a good food documentary, especially one
that focuses on one of the finest food groups ever – pasta. Funke focuses on chef Evan Funke, a once
successful culinary artist who walked away from the restaurant life, only to
return to the world of food after a sojourn into darkness. Funke looks into the world of the ever combative LA restaurant
industry through the eyes of someone trying to reaffirm their place in the
world. If anything, the shots of handmade pasta will have you rushing off to
Pelligrini’s after the screening to fill yourself up.
Alongside the truck load of great documentaries will be a wealth
of exciting and interesting short films. There’s too many to list here, but the
shorts that have peaked my interest include stories about a pop culture
provocateur who once tried to take down Trump with a naked sculpture, and have
now turned their sights to Harvey Weinstein; a film about a dog, George, who is
surrendered to an adoption home – a guaranteed tear jerker; or a story about
five tall men and their small dogs; or a look at a bizarre ritual in Yorkshire
which looks to involve sheep; or a story about a family returning to a cold
case about a black man who was beaten to death 70 years ago and the search for
justice; and finally, a short about UFO culture in Dundee, Wisconsin. This is
just scraping the top of the shorts that’ll be screening, and just like the
rest of the festival, there will be something for everyone here.
Looby is one of the best Australian films for 2019. A fascinating and deep dive into the life of Keith Looby, this documentary embraces all of Looby’s eccentricities, with his impact on Australian art and politics getting the grand exploration it deserves. With a mildly unhealthy dose of antagonism directed towards Keith, Looby is never dull, and always informative. Even with mid-interview walkouts and a frenetic subject who always looks bothered, Looby is the kind of film that you can’t help but ask – why did it take so long for this story to be told? And, once you’ve finished asking that, you can be thankful that it finally did get told, and most importantly, told in such a brilliantly entertaining fashion. This right here is my pick of the fest. Do not miss Looby. Give my interview with the filmmakers a listen here.
Defending a Monster takes
the book, John Wayne Gacy, Defending a Monster, written by Sam Amirante and
Danny Broderick, and translates it to a documentary format. This looks to be a
powerful glimpse into the world of the one man who was assigned the task of
defending the worst American serial killer, John Wayne Gacy. Directed by Marc
Menet and Bob Packo, Defending a Monster
will likely raise questions about how somebody can actually defend someone who
is so clearly guilty.
The Melbourne Documentary Film Festival has long shown great
films about dogs from all around the world – take 2018’s Dogs of Democracy for example, a beautiful film about the activist dog
Loukanikos, and the other dogs that live in Athens. And now, there is Pariah Dog, a film about the street dog
caretakers in Kolkata, India. Painting a broad picture of life in Kolkata, Pariah Dog was filmed over four years
and takes a look at the dogs that live in the city, and the people who look
after them. There are even more documentaries about animals at the festival
too, so if this looks interesting, then certainly there will be even more about
man’s best friend to explore.
From one extreme to another, Right to Harm is an activist documentary that looks at the impact
that factory farming has on America as a whole. Focusing on the expansive and
destructive entities that are CAFOs (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations), Right to Harm looks at the citizens who
are taking on these facilities in a bid to enact change. While these kinds of
activist documentaries can sometimes be a little preachy, there is a definite
need for this kind of story to be explored on screen, and just like the next
film and its effect on me, you might find your life changed after watching Right to Harm.
Filmmaker Rob Stewart died while making his second Sharkwater film, and while that tragedy
alone is enough to seek out this film, it’s the fact that there has still been
little global action on stopping the ruthless slaughter that sharks everywhere
face. While Sharkwater aimed to open the
eyes of the many to the importance of sharks, Sharkwater Extinction aims to reinforce that same message and
stress the trouble our oceans will be in without these majestic creatures. Sharkwater changed my life and changed
my viewpoint on the world. I no longer eat seafood and became involved in
action to help save the oceans. Hopefully Sharkwater
Extinction does the same for you.
While Looby is a
fascinating look into an Australian artist, Kartika:
9 Ways of Seeing is a beautiful look at an artist who you most certainly
are unaware of – Kartika Affandi. Kartika’s history is explored in depth, with
a brilliant look at her artworks, and a frequent look at her joyous smile.
There’s a beauty and depth to Kartika’s work, and thanks to great interviews,
we get a deep look into the meaning behind her paintings, and her process for
creating art. The wonders of documentaries are exposed with Kartika: 9 Ways of Seeing, with their
core purpose of informing, entertaining, and enlightening all working in
harmony. You’ll love this one for sure – also, take your Mum, she’ll appreciate
it, and very well may be inspired too.
While I found Singled
[Out]a little too short, take that point as a way of saying that this
is a really solid documentary that you can’t help but want more of. As a look
at what it means to be a woman in your thirties and single, Singled [Out] is a fascinating glimpse
at social and familial pressures that are needlessly pushed on women. The
comparisons between living a single life in China versus Australia is
fascinating, and will no doubt spark a wealth of discussions after the film.
Take your friends and open up a discussion about what you can do differently in
your life to help make your over thirty single friends feel better.
Finally, there’s Terror
Nullius. Not a documentary at all, but definitely one of the best
Australian films in recent years. Raucous, punk rock, left as fuck and a
searing feminist statement, this is one film you really cannot miss on the big
screen. It featured in my top 10 films
of 2018, and if that’s not enough, it got a perfect rating from me here. See. This. Film.
So that’s it! My viewing suggestions for this years Melbourne Documentary Film Festival.
Head along to the website and purchase tickets here.
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