[With just a day until the Melbourne International Film Festival programme is revealed, Julian considers how he would fill out the festival if he was given the opportunity.]
Guaranteed to contain some of the most popular documentaries at the festival, the Backbeat section is a consistent collage of music styles and stories that both entertain and pack a punch. I usually see around a third to a half of the programming in this section, and am rarely disappointed. Last year, MIFF gave viewers thirteen high-quality features, exploring everything from The Tote to A Tribe Called Quest to Rowland S. Howard to Harry Belafonte. I hope I can do the same.
First up are the titles already announced by MIFF: Beware of Mr. Baker, Paul Kelly: Stories of Me, Searching for Sugar Man, Shut Up and Play the Hits, and Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap. Already we have five features exploring very different artists and styles.
But let’s see what films from the Sydney Film Festival will add to the mix. Safinez Bousbia’s El Gusto tells of Muslim and Jewish musicians brought together by the popular music of Algeria before the 1954 War of Independence forced many to flee, so that certainly adds something new to the group. There are also plenty of McGarrigle Sisters fans in Melbourne, as well as Rufus and Martha Wainwright lovers, so Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You is a must. I also had no choice but to pick up the terrific documentary Under African Skies, as well as Unjoo Moon’s The Zen of Bennett.
Already, we’re looking at a lot of titles that have already played at SFF, so let’s find some international features ready for Australian Premieres. I wanted to be extremely bold and include the biopic Violeta Went to Heaven, but considering this category’s history, a fictional retelling did not seem suitable.
So from there, it meant American documentaries were going to dominate: Just Like Being There is an energetic and unfocused look at gig posters, and how they’re also coming into film (e.g. Mondo); Paul Williams Still Alive studies the enigmatic musician; and Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots explores music’s relationship with a moment of intense civil unrest. Lindsey Dryden’s UK documentary Lost and Sound rounds out the section, examining whether someone could find music again if they lost the ability to hear it.
So, let’s take a look at my selections for the Backbeat section:
El Gusto | dir. Safinez Bousbia | IRE
Just Like Being There | dir. Scout Shannon | USA
Lost and Sound | dir. Lindsey Dryden | UK
Paul Kelly: Stories of Me | dir. Ian Darling | AUS
Paul Williams Still Alive | dir. Stephen Kessler | USA
Searching for Sugar Man | dir. Malik Bendjelloul | SWE/UK
Shut Up and Play the Hits | dir. Dylan Southern, Will Lovelace | UK
Sing Me the Songs That Say I Love You – A Concert for Kate McGarrigle | dir. Lian Lunson | USA/CAN
Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap | dir. Ice-T | USA
Under African Skies | dir. Joe Berlinger | USA/RSA
Uprising: Hip Hop & The LA Riots | dir. Mark Ford | USA
The Zen of Bennett | dir. Unjoo Moon | USA
So that’s what I would have in the programme for MIFF 2012. Have I missed anything? What would you want if you had free reign?