Sydney Film Fest Closing Ceremony Photos, Hugo Weaving & SFF Jury Audio Interview, The Commission

Note: this is an archived entry. Some links might not still work, but I have tried to ensure scan and video embeds are still in place. If any linked material is unavailable, please let me know and I’ll attempt to find a copy in my personal archives.

Just as I was lamenting the lack of photos of the June 16 Sydney Film Festival Closing Ceremony, our Sydney Correspondent Yvette has come though (again) with a nice set of images. She’s been working all week as a volunteer at the SFF and thus got passes for the closing night’s event. I have to say her pics are the best I’ve seen so far of the ceremony… curiously, no official press photos seem to have been taken. But I always appreciate the “fan’s eye view” just as much. These are large, so they’ll be under the cut.

L to R: SFF jurors  Paolo Bertolin, Anand Gandhi, Pia Marais, Kath Shelper, Hugo Weaving

Hugo presents the main competition award to Nick Hayes, accepting on behalf of Nicolas Winding Refn

The SFF jury and winner      Photo: Fred Film Radio

An audio interview from the SFF awards ceremony earlier that day has just surfaced, courtesy Fred Film Radio.  It’s slightly more elucidating on the subject of the voting process and controversial result. Hugo keeps his personal opinions close to the vest, though; interestingly, he says nothing when a journalist asks if the jurors recommend the film. At that point, the two women on the jury become very vocal and effusive. Methinks the Ryan Gosling effect might be at play here… yes, I have seen it in serious film critics before. Mostly female. Though a few male too. 😉 I myself am curiously immune to that particular actor’s alleged charms, but my main reservations with Only God Forgives are with the director, who steals Hong Kong and Korean revenge-thriller tropes but avoids the depth and meaning that the best of those Asian films share. I do think the SFF judging criteria, presumably not invented by this particular jury, are a bit vapid, and might have hindered the selection process. Any rank amateur can be “audacious” or “cutting edge”, but being lastingly good is something else altogether.

I found the comments to the effect that the winning film deserves the award more because its violence might limit its audience to be a bit clueless– maybe because I’m American, and our movies tend to be spectacularly violent. Even recent superhero films inevitably feature thousands of deaths and citywide carnage… and those are the kid-friendly PG-13 films. 😉 Hard-R violent thrillers rake in hundreds of millions as well. It’s the less visceral, more thoughtful films that have a harder time getting a look-in at the box office. I’m sure this film will have no problem getting wide distribution worldwide. I do want to emphasize that it’s not the violence per say that I object to in Refn’s work, but it’s derivative emptiness. When critics use words like “hypnotic” to describe films like this, I have to wonder if they aren’t being a bit too literal. I’ve seen thousands of movies allm over the ratings spectrum and have never been particularly squeamish. I don’t worry that films like this might shock me… I have to care about the characters and their plight before anything they do (or that’s done to them) could disturb me. Park Chanwook’s films, at their best, are stylized and extremely violent, but he bothers to ground any outlandishness with relatable characters and profoundly human dilemmas. Refn reminds me more of that Monty Python sketch parodying Sam Peckinpah where a director known for “stylishly violent” films lovingly describes how he’d like the fountain of blood to spurt ‘just so’ when a character meets his demise. If I’m paying undue attention to the cinematography or lighting at such moments, clearly the film isn’t really visceral in any meaningful way. 😉 And if the artfully choreographed blood fountains start taking on a drinking game frequency, I tend to giggle more than gasp.

Sorry. Got carried away there. I do have a pet peeve with festivals favoring style over substance. Refreshingly, the Aussie press seems to (mostly) be with me on this one. American critics will probably beg to differ. And I should again emphasize that Hugo hasn’t said he loved or hated the film. I suspect from his carefully worded statements that he respects it more than loves it, and deferred to the majority and judging criteria. His tastes are thoughtful and varied enough to respect a wide variety of what’s broadly considered “arthouse” fare. He does reiterate his preference for independent, “human level” filmmaking in the audio interview, for films he wants to act in or to see. But if you look at just the list of Hugo’s 2013-14 Australian films, there’s a lot of diversity. I suspect The Mule is nothing like The Turning, which is nothing like Mystery Road or Healing. Ideally, they’ll all be entertaining. Certainly there’s something for everyone.

Speaking of The Turning, our first still from David Wenham’s short “The Commission”, starring Hugo, debuted on the film’s Twitter feed and Facebook page yesterday. It’s cryptic but elegant…

“I just hung on in there until there was nothing left of me”…’Commission’, directed by David Wenham, The Turning.

There’s a larger version of the image here.

And they are promising a trailer soon.  😉

UPDATE: The Sydney Film Festival Facebook page has now posted dozens of new images from the June 16 awards presentation, closing ceremony and final film premiere. I’ll add all of those featuring Hugo below:

Hugo at the awards presentation announcement the afternoon of June 16

Hugo Weaving and Festival Director Nashen Moodley

L to R: Paolo Bertolin, Anand Gandhi, Pia Marais, Nick Hayes, Hugo Weaving, Kath Shelper, Nashen Moodley

More Swag Display For The Sponsors 😉

Hugo and Pia Marais at the final night premiere of 20 Feet From Stardom

Awards presentations at the closing ceremony

Fan photo of Hugo at the Twenty Feet From Stardom closing night premiere:

Photo: Susanne Gervay. For a larger version of this image, go to Gervay’s blog

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