Monthly Archives: August 2005

2005 film festival reviews

There were some damn good films at The New Zealand Film Festival last month. Here’s a few of my favourites. Well, actually, a write-up a couple of the ‘promotional’ websites.

First up, a word about the offical Film Festival website itself. It’s hard to avoid Telecom’s brazen sponsorship: an overdose of branding with slick functionality. A visual timetable displays a daily schedule at a glance, with colourful pop-up text about each film. Visitors can create and save a personal schedule – something that can be printed and pinned to the fridge I guess. Aside from distracting branding, the website is easy to use.

The animated train graphics on the “Life is a Miracle” website reflect the zany, chaotic feel of the film. Guns firing, a vaudeville brass band thumping out tunes, hysterical opera. The is a graphic synopsis and pictures give a sense of the fllm, but I doubt you’d make sense of the plot.

Be warned if you visit the “Life is a Miracle” website: you need a fast internet connection to open the page because it’s a very multi-media rich presentation (the 10MB site would take xx minutes using a 56k modem). The website is intriguing, and I’m now likely to chase up some other pics by the Serbia-Montenegrian director Emir Kusturica.

“Czech Dream” provides a completely different perspective on reality in eastern Europe: the arrival of consumer society in the formerly communist Czechoslovakia. It’s hard to tell whether the film, which traces efforts by two film-makers running an advertising campaign for an imagined hypermarket, is a mockumentary or a documentary.

The website adds yet another twist: a picture of two bruised and bloody filmmakers confronts visitors. The question is posed: did things go wrong? The misleading lyrics from the Czech Dream hypermarket advertising jingle has to be my favourite page. You can also find an interview with film-makers and links to ‘real’ news articles on the doc/mockumentary.

You’ll get far more serious fare if you the visit “The Take” website. The documentary about a worker movement re-occupying deserted factories in Argentina is incredibly inspiring. Some scenes in the movie sent a chill down my spine as workers bravely stood-up to greed and force. If you’re so compelled the grassroots toolkit on the website, including posters and flyers, are hosted to encourage activists to organise events that help promote the issues raised in the film.

Sadly the website relies on the latest Flash software so is probably not accessible to everyone. Strange that such a progressive film should potentially alienate many website visitors.