Thursday, 26 October 2017

October 26 2017
Brigsby Bear
The Midwife
Ingrid goes West
The Untamed
Cunard British Film Festival

Again some wonderful release this week, plus another Festival - this time the British! And yet a couple more reviews from JIFF, so no excuses for not getting along to the movies!

Brigsby Bear
Director: Dave McCary
Length: 97 min
© Sony - an unusual film with much heart and creativity
James (Kyle Mooney) leads an oddball isolated life with only his kooky parents and an obsession for watching an animated TV series called Brigsby Bear. But all is not as it seems, and James' life changes dramatically in an instant. We then gradually learn what his past reality has really been about (and I'm not letting on!) If I'm being deliberately obscure, I think the less you know in advance about this one, the better. In his new life James discovers the real world, learns what friendship and family is, and how to use his love of Brigsby to create a new future for himself. Although the total premise is way out there, and is based upon something potentially horrific, this is actually a totally charming, funny and touching film, with a thoroughly likeable main character, and lots of warm fuzzy feelings that, fortunately, don't step too far into schmaltz territory. It's a gorgeous treatment of (belated) coming of age, and the idea that creative imagination, linked with child-like dreams, especially when shared with friends and family, may just be the best thing to get you through. I loved it!
4 - highly recommended!

The Midwife
Director: Martin Provost
Length: 117 min
© Palace- the two Catherines are terrific in this
gentle story of forgiveness and babies
Claire (Catherine Frot) is a single mother to teen Simon, and a committed midwife at a local clinic. Unexpectedly, after more than three decades, Beatrice (Catherine Deneuve) turns up, seeking to make amends for past hurts. Beatrice was Claire's late father's mistress, who did a runner from that relationship when Claire was only 14. Beatrice is flighty, eccentric, a gambler and recently diagnosed with cancer. Gradually the ice thaws between the women and a strange affection develops. European film-makers do this kind of thing best. They have a way of depicting prickly relationships, and odd situations, that always feel authentic and easily empathised with. The interplay between these two greats of French cinema is a treat to watch. The film takes its time, lingering on lovely scenes of Claire facilitating at numerous births (and, unlike so many American films, these babies are newborns!), and we see her no-nonsense but caring style. Her times spent at her beloved patch of community garden are lovingly teased out, as is the other friendship she forms with neighboring gardener and truck driver Paul. All in all, this gentle film is a pleasure, and a reminder of what can open up when forgiveness is embraced. 
3.5 - well recommended!

Ingrid Goes West
Director: Matt Spicer
Length: 97 min
© Rialto -  Ingrid and Taylor in a brief period 
of best friends
Ingrid Thorburn  (Aubrey Plaza) is an unstable Instagram addict who is unable to tell the difference between people she has "liked" and a real relationship. She becomes obsessed with Taylor Sloane (Elizabeth Olsen), an Instagram "star" and proceeds to stalk her, until she insinuates her way into Taylor's life. This dark comedy is an intelligent, hilarious, and at times touching satire on the world of social media. The screenwriting and dialogue accurately nail the way many younger folk speak and behave with each other and their phones, and is a cringe-worthy expose of the shallowness of much of life these days. It also examines the issue of identity - how we see ourselves, and what is the true "self" under all the social posturing. Entertaining and thought-provoking watching, with blitzing performances by the two leads.   
4 - highly recommended!

The Untamed
Director: Amat Escalante
Length: 98 min
Exclusive to ACMI cinemas - 27 Oct - 9 Nov
© ACMI -  friends joined by a very large secret
Alejandra is in a miserable marriage to Angel, made worse by the fact that Angel is having an affair with Ale's gay brother, Fabian. Veronica goes off to a cabin in the forest for regular sexual encounters of a strange nature. She claims her encounters are the purest and greatest sexual pleasure she has ever experienced.  After being injured during a tryst, Vero meets Fabian, a nurse at the hospital, and introduces him to the opportunity to get the same pleasure she has had. Sounds almost normal eh? But when you find the truth of who/what the strange pleasure-giving sexual creature is, things get majorly weird! This for me is a strange mash-up of body horror, with kinky sex overlay, and a domestic drama of non-epic proportions. Certainly the film is well made, (it's won awards!) strongly acted, somewhat intriguing, and has interesting themes around sexuality, domestic violence and homophobia, but its content is so repulsive in certain regards that it's not for me. 
2.5 - maybe!

Cunard British Film Festival
26 Oct - 15 Nov - Melbourne - see website for other states
Palace Balwyn, Brighton Bay, Como and Astor Theatre

Ah the Brits!! They have given the world so many wonderful actors, and there is always something so dependable and to which we can relate, regardless of the subject matter. From a biopic of guitarist Eric Clapton, another of Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein, through to the much anticipated story of the creator of Winnie the Pooh, there is a cornucopia of splendid films to be had in this festival. So far I've caught a couple:

A surprisingly feel good film about polio
Breathe: (117 mins) Andy Serkis (of Golum fame) takes the directorial chair for his debut film, based on the true story of Robin Cavendish (Andrew Garfield), who, in the late fifties, contracted polio at the age of 28. His devoted wife Diana (Claire Foy) is determined, against all medical advice, to bring Robin out of hospital, where he lives only with the help of a respirator, to home. There, with the love and support of friends and inventors, Robin proves you don't have to be a victim, and polio doesn't have to stop you leading a long and fulfilling life. I really enjoyed this film, mostly because stories of this nature are absolutely inspiring, and I learned so much about what happened in that era that gave hope to so many. I must add that the film possibly takes gross liberties, as I found it a bit hard to believe that people facing such enormous challenges could be so relentlessly upbeat! 

Ray Winstone is perfect as 
the gym manager
Jawbone: (91 mins) Director Thomas Napper takes a script by Johnny Harris, based on the writer's own youth as an amateur fighter. Harris plays the lead, Jimmy McCabe, a former junior boxing champ who has now become an alcoholic. In desperation Jimmy returns to the gym where he once trained, hoping to make something of himself again. The gym is run by Bill, (the incomparable Ray Winstone). I dislike boxing as a sport, but this film is superbly rendered, with flawless scripting and unsettling realism. All the actors inhabit their roles, the fight scenes are tightly choreographed (and hard to watch), but ultimately this an example of the best of British film-making.

John Hurt in one of his last roles ever
That Good Night: Eric Styles directs one of John Hurt's last films before his death. Ralph, an aging curmudgeonly playwright, diagnosed with a terminal illness and  married to a much younger wife, tries to come to terms with mortality and set things straight with his estranged son. Set in the beautiful south of Portugal, the film is a touching meditation upon aging and death, with much relevance to today's debates about dying with dignity. Charles Dance plays a mystery stranger with advice and help for Ralph.  

For information on times, cinemas and ticketing visit

JIFF (more reviews)
The Jewish International Film Festival will run for 4 weeks. I've already given you 11 reviews from last week, but as I manage to preview any other films, I'll bring them to you. 

Never Be Boring: Billy Wilder
Billy Wilder - one of the greats!
This is a fabulous insight into the famous director's career. The doco delves into Wilder's work, including clips from famous films, interviews with people who knew him and archival interviews with the man himself. No lover of the golden age of Hollywood studio films should miss this.  
A father's love and worry
This gentle heart-wrenching film about a father's love is set in the heart of New York's Hasidic community, and is one of very few films in Yiddish. Menashe's wife has died and the community/religious rules are that he cannot bring up his son alone unless he remarries. Balancing the demands of his faith, and his love for his son, Menashe must make difficult decisions. 

With 65 films from 26 countries, JIFF has something for everyone (as I already said last week!)
Check out screening times at the Classic or Lido by visiting:

Friday, 20 October 2017

October 19 2017
JIFF - Jewish International Film Festival
The Snowman
Tom of Finland 
I've gone overboard previewing films for the Jewish International Film Festival, which opens in Melbourne and Sydney on the 25th and 26th of October respectively. The marvel is, since Jewish culture is everywhere in the world, the films come from all over and feature stories pertinent not only to Jews, but people everywhere. The range of documentaries and feature films is astonishing, and everything I've watched so far has been a winner! Although the Festival doesn't open until next week, I run some of my previews today to give you ample time to decide your schedule and get your tickets! I'm not going to give my usual recommendations because I recommend them all, depending upon where your personal area of interest lies!

Director: Ferenc Torok
Length: 91 min
© JIFF - beautifully shot in black and white
Two black clad men disembark from a train in a small Hungarian village just after the end of the war. The townsfolk are preparing for a wedding, and the arrival of the men, Orthodox Jews, sends them into a panic, as many of the villagers are living in Jewish homes, stolen from the rightful owners when the German deported the Jews to the death camps. This remarkable film is shot in black and white, giving it a melancholy and historical feel. The camera doggedly follows the two men with their mysterious crates loaded on a horse and cart, while concurrently the town's interpersonal dramas play out, all revealing what unpleasant people most of the villagers are. The twist at the film's end is something unexpected, and  packs a powerful wallop. 

Bang! The Bert Berns Story
Director: Brett Berns
Length: 91 min
© JIFF - a must for music lovers
You probably know by now how much I love music documentaries. This absolutely entertaining film is the story of Bert Berns, songwriter and record producer from the sixties. I'd never heard of him, but it turns out he wrote such iconic songs as I Want Candy, Piece of my Heart, Hang on Sloopy and was responsible as a producer for Under the Boardwalk, Baby please Don't Go, and countless more! He helped launch the careers of Neil Diamond and Van Morrison, and even got himself marginally involved with the Mob. There's lashings of fabulous music here, a completely involving story of ambition, conflict, love and illness - it's a doco no music lover should miss! 

The Cakemaker
Director: Ofir Raul Graizer
Length: 104 min
© JIFF - from Berlin to Jerusalem, this delicate film
is a tale of love and loss
Thomas is a top pastry cook in Berlin. Once a month he meets with his lover Oran, who works for an Israeli/German company. When Oran is killed in an accident Thomas goes to Jerusalem, and ends up working in the cafe run by Thomas's widow, who is unaware of Thomas's connection to her deceased husband. This is a gentle and moving film, beautifully shot, and suffused with a deep sadness. It also touches upon the issues some Israelis have with Germans, and internal-based issues of religious people forcing their values onto the more secular. The human need for connection is a strong theme, and some mighty fine cakes also feature!  

Heaven in Auschwitz
Director: Aaron Cohen
Length: 74 min
© JIFF - athlete Fredy Hirsch made life a little more
bearable for kids in the camps
The documentary's title is almost an oxymoron - how could this be? It tells of famous athlete Fredy Hirsch, who could have escaped Germany before the Holocaust but chose to stay because of children he looked after, first in the ghetto camp of Theresienstadt and then in Auschwitz.  Somehow he managed to procure slightly better conditions for the little ones, organising a dedicated childrens block, with lessons, little tables, paper and pencils. Several survivors remember Fredy fondly and talk about their time in a surprising way, noting that they actually experienced moments of joy in the middle of hell, thanks to that man.   

Humour Me
Director: Sam Hoffman
Length: 92 min
© JIFF - father and son learn to understand each other
in this amusing tale
Nate, impressively played by Flight of the Conchord's Jemaine Clement, is a writer in crisis - his latest work is getting nowhere, and his wife has decided to leave him taking their young child. With nowhere to go except his father's home in a retirement village, Nate feels his life has lost all purpose. But when he is co-opted by the residents to produce a version of The Mikado, things, surprisingly, look up. Elliot Gould as the incessant joke-telling father, Bob, is a terrific foil for Clement, and all the other "oldies" play their parts with alacrity. Although the story is reasonably predictable it's told with affection, much humour, and a goodly dose of pathos. The use of black and white vignettes to act out the content of Bob's jokes is a clever device that breaks up the the main narrative in a very positive way.   

In Between
Director: Maysaloun Hamoud
Length: 96 min
© JIFF - an eye-opener into Palestinian life
Nominated for 12 Ophir awards, In Between is the powerful story of three Palestinian room-mates, Layla, a lawyer and party animal, Salma, a bartender and DJ and their conservative Muslim flatmate Nur.  When Nur's fiance visits, he is horrified at the secularity of the lifestyle of the other two girls, and urges Nur to hasten their marriage date. This movie certainly ended any preconceptions I had about Palestinian women - it's an eye-opening window into the lives of those women who live a non-religious life, while it also examines the always disturbing topic of the type of men who try to dominate their women, even resorting to brutality. Beautifully acted, with a nuanced script, this is an inspiring look at female bonding, and the importance of breaking stereotypes, and fighting the patriarchal system.   

The Last Goldfish
Director: Su Goldfish
Length: 81 min
© JIFF - from Australia to Canada, Trinidad to Germany,
the filmmaker traces her roots
This intensely personal documentary tells the director's story of growing up in Trinidad, the daughter of Jewish-German refugee Manfred, and his non-Jewish wife. When Su discovers that Manfred had a previous wife, she goes on the trail of her half-siblings, and ultimately tracks down many branches of her father's family, finally understanding why he was always so reluctant to talk about his past. I found this doco surprisingly moving, and I believe many people who have made the effort to track down lost family will relate heavily to Su's experience. Moving from Trinidad, to Canada, to Germany, and employing many wonderful old photos from Manfred's few possessions, along with long-lost letters, there is much to capture the viewer in this rewarding film.  

More Alive than Dead
Director: Tzachi Schiff
Length: 67 min
© JIFF - Freud: Fraud or genius?
World renowned Freud experts get together to discuss the legacy the famous psychiatrist had on today's culture and society. Some see him as a fraud who pirated the ideas of others; some see him as a genius! Though the ideas in this documentary take a fair level of concentration to follow, the film is augmented with some excellent and creative animation, art, humour and music. Students of psychology, and fans of all things Freudian should enjoy it.  

Past Life
Director: Avi Nesher
Length: 109 min
© JIFF - sisters delve into their father's past
Journalist Nana and singer Sephi are the children of Polish Holocaust survivors now living in Israel. When Sephi performs in West Berlin, she is accosted by a distraught woman saying her father is a murderer. The sisters begin to delve into their father's past, asking him to explain what he did during the war. Deeply emotional, this film will strike a chord with anyone interested in family history, and its effects on the dynamics of family relationships. It also examines what people did simply to stay alive under unthinkable conditions. Both actresses playing the sisters have been awarded for their roles, in this deeply moving, beautiful film.    

A Quiet Heart
Director: Eitan Anner
Length: 92 min
© JIFF - orthodoxy and secularity clash, but also
learn to co-exist
Gifted concert pianist Naomi is taking time out from her life and her pushy parents to consider what she wants to do with her life. She leaves Tel Aviv for Jerusalem, and ends up renting an apartment in an ultra-Orthodox part of town. There she befriends the musically gifted son of her religious neighbours, and also Fabrizio, a brother at a local monastery. She asks Fabrizio to give her pipe organ lessons. Naomi's secular ways incur the wrath of the local community, who become increasingly threatening. This is a stunningly layered story, with  restrained and delicate performances. It is also a very important film, raising issues that need to be constantly examined in a world where religious orthodoxy and intolerance of all kinds, along with patriarchal societies, have the propensity to threaten the harmony of everyday existence. 

Shalom Bollywood: The Untold Story of Indian Cinema
Director: Danny Ben Moshe
Length: 80 min
© JIFF - who'd have thought? Indian Jewish women
pioneered Bollywood glam!
What's not to love about Bollywood? And when you discover that Indian Jewish stars were featured in the early days of the glam/glitzy Indian film industry, it's quite a revelation. Ruby Myers performed under the screen name Sulochana in the 1920s, Esther Abraham became Pramila, and Farhat Ezekiel became Nadira, a close friend of studio mogul Raj Kapoor. All these fascinating stories are blended with rare and wonderful archival footage of the old films, and interviews with surviving stars. Of special interest is actor/screenwriter Haidar Ali, son of Jewish Pramila, and Muslim M. Kumar. He crosses seamlessly between faiths, and stresses in his interviews that Bollywood has always been an all-inclusive industry that is a great model for inter-faith tolerance. For Bollywood fans, or simply film historians, it's a must see! 

 (See for all states, times and ticketing). 

The Snowman
Director: Toman Alfredson
Length: 119 min
© -Universal - love the actor, but not in this film!
Based on the popular series of Harry Hole Scandi-noir detective novels by Jo Nesbo, this is the story of Harry's hunt for a serial killer who is murdering women, and leaving a snowman somewhere at the scene of the crime. I recall quite enjoying the book, but unfortunately the film doesn't live up to its source material. It's nicely shot by Dion Beebe, who captures an atmospheric snow-bound landscape, but maybe that is the best one can say of it. The talented (and ubiquitous) Michael Fassbender is nothing like the Harry of my imagination, and the script has so many convolutions, it becomes muddied and difficult to follow. With a level of rather nasty and sadistic violence, this will probably melt in my memory as fast as the snowmen themselves!
2 - you've got better things to do with your time!

Tom of Finland
Director: Dome Karukoski
Length: 114 min
Exclusive to Cinema Nova
© Palace - macho leather men feature front and centre
in this story of the world's most popular
homoerotic artist
You may or may not be familiar with this type of homoerotic artwork, which popularised beefcake; men with bulging muscles, square jaws, massive appendages and often clad in bikie leather. This is the absolutely fascinating story of Touko Laaksonen, a soldier returned from WW2, who lives with his sister and produces art for an advertising agency, but on the side begins to draw pictures that express his own fantasies. The work eventually became popularised around the world, giving gay men the chance to associate with macho rather than effeminate stereotypes. Aside from tracing Tom's life and artistic journey, along with his importance to the emerging San Francisco gay community, this is also a very moving story of the era - a time when homosexuality was outlawed and men hid in the closets. Entertaining, interesting, but definitely not for prudes! 
4 - highly recommended!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

October 12 2017
Greek Film Festival
Only Living Boy in New York
Good Time
The Mountain Between Us
Bad Blood

It's all so overwhelming - the number of new releases and festivals is enough to send me into film OD! But I'll suffer for the cause, as there are so many wonderful films I want to tell you about. Particularly, check out the DelphiBank Greek Film Festival, always a wonderful showcase of Hellenic films. 

The Day The Sea Changed
Director: Karina Holden
Length: 70 min
© Transmission -  a marine cataclysm looms - but
people seem oblivious
  • In the last 40 years half of all marine life has been lost.  
  • By 2050 there will be more plastic in the sea than fish
These two highly alarming statistics are at the heart of this must-see documentary that hopefully will make humans who take the sea for granted wake up, before it is too late! Two years in the making, Blue takes us on a journey with people dedicated to saving our oceans, showing us the devastation that is happening every day across the planet: overfishing of tuna in Indonesia to the point of extinction, trawling nets killing marine life, pollution from heavy industry, mounds of garbage washing up on shorelines, and birds dying from plastic ingested into their gut. Rather than leaving only the "eco-warriors" to fight, this beautifully shot film throws the challenge to each one of us, asking what we could do to make a difference. This is important viewing! 
4 - highly recommended!

The Only Living Boy in New York
Director: Marc Webb
Length: 89 min
© Roadshow - anything with 
Jeff Bridges is worth seeing!
Recently graduated Thomas Webb (Callum Turner) moves out from the home of his successful publisher father (Pierce Brosnan) and fragile mother (Cynthia Nixon). Living in the rough end of town, Tom befriends his alcoholic neighbor (Jeff Bridges), who dispenses life lessons on how Tom should win Mimi (Kiersey Clemons), the girl of his dreams. But when Tom discovers his Dad is having an affair with the alluring younger Johanna (Kate Beckinsale), he starts to reconsider his options. Rotten Tomatoes critics seem to have dismissed the film, but I find it an intelligently scripted, (if at times the voice-over is a touch pretentious) engaging story with strong performances, good dialogue, and a plot twist that I certainly never saw coming!    
3.5 - well recommended

Good Time
Director: Marc Webb
Length: 89 min
Screening Nova, Lido and ACMI
© Potential - a star performance from Robert Pattinson
marks this fast-paced crime thriller
Small time crook Connie (Robert Pattinson) takes his younger, mentally challenged brother Nick (Ben Safdie) along with him on a bank robbery. When everything goes wrong and Nick ends up in remand, Connie will stop at nothing to get his brother out. Pattinson has come a long way since his vampire days in Twilight, and he simply bursts with manic energy in this crazy, frenetic tale of  a grungy low-life who perhaps has some heart when it comes to family. The action never lets up, with the camera restlessly zooming along the streets of New York's underbelly, in and out of apartments and finally into a deserted fun park. There are moments of sudden violence, and others of semi-farcical humor. Even though the characters are all quite unlikeable, this film belongs to Pattinson who shines throughout.    
3.5 - well recommended

The Mountain Between Us
Director: Hany Abu-Assad
Length: 103 min
© Fox  - the location adds a new meaning to "remote"!
Professional photographer Alex (Kate Winslet) and neurosurgeon Ben (Idris Elba) find themselves stranded at an airport, both needing urgently to get home (one to marry, one to operate). They charter a small twin-engine plane, but when the pilot suffers a stroke, the plane crashes into remote mountains, and the battle to survive begins. Another film to divide critics down the middle, TMBU totally stretches the bounds of credibility. It feels authentic for the early part, but then starts to venture into highly implausible territory. The outcome is fairly predictable, but, in the film's favour, the performances by Winslet and Elba are strong, the location starkly gripping, (the cast and crew literally froze in the mountains of British Columbia), and I must confess to finding myself entertained.   
2.5 - maybe

Bad Blood
Director: David Pullbrook
Length: 90 min
© Potential - is fiance Vincent really who he seems?

Vincent (Xavier Samuel) is a successful author, much in love with fiance Carrie (Moran Griffin), but hiding from her a dark secret he harbors. When he invites her for a romantic weekend at the isolated country property of his publisher, things get scary - is Vincent really who Carrie thinks he is? Described as a "sophisticated thriller with a Hitchcock vibe", this good looking film has elements that work, yet for me it's no Hitchcock! I loved Samuel as Otto Bloom, but I fear in this he may be miscast - not dark enough and too cleancut looking to really pull off the dual role he plays. I love to support Australian film, but unfortunately this one doesn't enthral me.  
2.5 - maybe

Delphi Bank 24th Greek Film Festival
11-22 October
Palace Como and Astor
Greek musicians perform at the ouzeri
in Cloudy Sunday 
The Festival offers 16 feature films, several documentaries and even a short film festival.

My no 1 pick:
Djam: I adore all the films Tony Gatlif has directed. He has a feel for distinct cultures and their music, along with the longing that all exiles have for their homeland. In this Greek/French/Turkish co-production. Gatlif goes to the island of Lesvos where feisty young Djam lives with her stepdad. He sends her on an errand to Istanbul, where she befriends a troubled French girl, Avril. Together the girls take the slow road of digressions back to the island. There is something so joyous in Gatlif's approach to music and life - he captures the defiant spirit of the Greeks, who, despite all the catastrophes that have beset them, including economic and refugee crises, still have a lust for life and an unbroken connection to their music.

Roza of Smyrny: Touted as the Romeo and Juliet of Greco-Turkish relationships, this film deals with a very interesting time in Greek/Turkish history, and gives background to the often hostile relationship between the two countries. The mystery element comes from the finding of an old blood-stained wedding dress. A museum curator, building an exhibition around Greek culture in Smyrna (now Izmir), tracks down the story behind the dress. It's a fabulous tale, even if directed in a somewhat melodramatic style. 

Cloudy Sunday: The closing night film is a very moving story of the love between a Jewish girl and Christian boy in the city of Thessaloniki at the time when the Nazis occupied Greece. The film garnered several awards for its acting and production values, and recreates beautifully the atmosphere of the Greek musical tavern, Ouzeri Tsitsanis,  where one of the protagonists performs. This is yet another important take on a little known aspect of the Holocaust in a city once famed for its Jewish culture. 

Pedro Noula: After surviving a horrific bus crash, Pedro Noula suffers amnesia and sets out to discover his identity, with the aid only of a passport, a photo and a bank cheque. This is a great idea and starts off really well, with a sympathetic main character, plenty of sidekicks who feel really authentic, but then the whole plot gets a little too convoluted for my taste, and doesn't seem to quite know how to finish itself off. Nevertheless, the film has a wry humour and is an interesting look at the subject of identity, who we are at heart, under all the events of our lives, and whether we can we reinvent ourselves. 

Istoria: This fascinating doco follows three generations of Australian Greeks: Elias, who is suffering from Alzheimers, has always wanted to return to Greece, so his son and grandson take him back hoping it will help his condition, but the memories he unearths of the Greek Civil War are highly disturbing. I never understood much about the Greek civil war, and this certainly opened my eyes on the history of Greece post WW2.

Son of Sofia: From Greece/France/Bulgaria comes the story of 11-year-old Misha who travels from Russia to reunite with his mother in Greece, in the year of the Athens Olympics. He doesn't know his mum has remarried a much older Greek man, who tells children's stories but is a fierce disciplinarian. Misha befriends some dubious Ukrainian boys, and escapes into fantasy fairytales, thinking he is Misha the bear, the Olympic mascot from the Russian Games. This is a nicely made story, blending coming-of-age and cultural displacement  themes with a dose of magical realism. 

Dogs of Democracy: I loved Kedi, about the street cats of Istanbul, and this doco does a Greek take on the theme, using stray dogs, and the people who care for them, as a framework/backdrop to the economic crisis. This doesn't quite pull it off - the political observations are insightful, but combining the two threads doesn't work for me so well. 

Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria: another beautifully made doco about the Holocaust, as experienced in a Greek village. Of 1000 Sephardic Jews who had lived there since the Roman days, only 35 returned. Survivors and their families speak of their experiences, and wonderful archival footage is employed. 

The Festival will also screen the fine Australian film Joe Cinque's Consolation, directed by Greek-Australian Sotiris Dounokos, based on a Helen Garner book about a true crime in which a law student killed her boyfriend. 

For more information on all the films and their screening times go to: