I’ve just arrived home after The Other Andrew and I went to the closing night of this year’s Sydney Film Festival. It’s been a busy few weeks for me with travel planning taking up a fair amount of my non-work time, and so I haven’t bothered much with the festival this year, aside from the opening night a few weeks back.
I hadn’t even looked at the program, and wasn’t really all that aware of this year’s closing night movie until I read something about it on the internet earlier today. “French animation” was how I described it to Andrew when I called him mid-afternoon, whatever that means.
Before the film itself started a number of thankyous were made and a number of “people’s choice” awards were announced. A new award for films of less than one minute in duration (sponsored by Telstra with the mobile phone market in mind) was also announced. I thought the “people’s choice” mobile film was lame. To me it looked like a mini video-clip or a trailer for a longer film. I didn’t get any sense of “mobile cinema” about it at all. In contrast, I really liked the one chosen by the expert panel. It was a film about how the town of Gosford, near Sydney, was dying and in desperate need of some tender loving care. It was funny, heart-warming, well-made and conceived. And it looked like it had been shot on a mobile phone.
I also really liked the closing night film, Persepolis which is described on Wikipedia in these terms…
The story follows a young girl as she comes of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution, and shows how her family’s hopes for change were slowly dashed as the Islamic fundamentalists took power, drastically curtailing personal liberties, forcing head coverings on women and imprisoning thousands; the story ends with Marjane as a 21-year-old expatriate.
The story was well-told, funny, touching, and very memorable. Marjane is a great character. She’s feisty, has a sense of humour, and is a great survivor. Indeed, the song, “Eye Of The Tiger” by the band “Survivor” plays an important role in the film. There’s only one occasion when she wallows in some self-pity, but then she quickly fights back. The character of her grandmother is also excellent. With memorable lines such as “a first marriage is only practice for the second”, she comes across as a really amazing person who obviously saw a lot of changes during her life in Iran.
The film also helped me better understand some of those changes. Although I was alive for the Iranian revolution in the 1970s, I wasn’t really all that aware of what happened and why. This film helped fill in some of the gaps in my own knowledge, and I suspect for a lot of people in the audience.
All except the people sitting in front of us and to our left. “I blame DVD’s”, said Andrew as an explanation for why they would think it was a good idea to take off their shoes and put them on the arms of nearby chairs. “And rudness”, he added. I also wanted to punch the hippies sitting in front of us. Not only did they talk during the opening credits, leave their mobile phones on (one of them actually rang during the film), but they were also constantly moving around. As their heads moved around I couldn’t help but notice their unwashed hair. Ugh.
But if we thought their use of a mobile phone was surprising, it was even more surprising to see the number of mobile phones which emerged during the closing credits. As we looked down at the people in front of us (in more ways than one) a sea of mobile phone lights emerged before our eyes. I don’t imagine they were all doctors and nurses on 24-hour emergency call.
Honestly, they didn’t need safety lights at the State Theatre tonight, they could have just relied on the mobile phone glow. It was like being at a pop concert in the 70s when, instead of candles swaying back and forth, it was mobile phones which provided the light.