It used to be that you’d wait two full years between Adelaide Film Festivals but, lo an behold, they’ve managed to make it an annual event – and a bloody enticing one at that. If you, like me, bought tickets to an 11am screening of The Book Club at the GU Film house and accidentally wandered into the Film Festival’s program launch event, then you already know what I’m talking about. However, if you managed to find your seat and promptly enjoyed the cheeky antics of Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda and their club’s monthly discussion of Fifty Shades of Grey, then allow me to fill you in on what you missed.
Alas, The Book Club is not screening as part of the Adelaide Film Festival, but there are some 139 features, shorts and series in its place. These are Australian premieres and Australian classics, fiction and documentary, works made in South Australia and around the world, completed films and, yes, even an unfinished, work in progress cut of the Adelaide-produced sci-fi thriller I Am Mother starring Hilary Swank – see it before it’s re-cut into a coming-of-age romcom starring Art Malik!
The festival will kick off with the hotly anticipated Hotel Mumbai, an immersive true-story thriller based on the 2008 terror attack on Mumbai, which already received a standing ovation at the Toronto International Film Festival. This Australian premiere is a major source of pride for the festival, as the film was produced in Adelaide, partially shot in Adelaide, and directed by local filmmaker Anthony Maras. The premiere was already announced as a gala event, but the full program includes regular sessions for those who don’t want to spend big or rub elbows with Adelaide’s cultural elite.
A great perk of the Adelaide Film Festival is that by the time it rolls around, the Venice and Toronto festivals have already done a lot of the heavy lifting in building hype around possible Oscar contenders; the performances of Robert Redford in The Old Man and the Gun, Steve Carrell and Tim Chalamet in Beautiful Boy, and Melissa McCarthy in Can You Ever Forgive Me (the Festival’s closing night film) have all been acclaimed and will have their Australian premiere at AdlFF. Closer to home, Jennifer Kent of The Babadook fame also won big at Venice with her Tasmanian period thriller, The Nightingale, scoring two Special Jury awards at Venice for Feature and Director. I’m pumped.
The other side of the festival is seeing films you wouldn’t normally see. AdlFF is showcasing a great range of worldly talent in documentarians, unique visionaries, and Arab women directors. Honestly, just pick something weird and go in blind.
It’s also worth mentioning that the Coen Brothers’ anthology Western, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs is screening at the festival. Normally, I wouldn’t include something so mainstream as “something you wouldn’t normally see”, only this is a rare occurrence that a Netflix Original Film is playing in a cinema, the way God intended. Go and see it without also looking at your phone.
Finally, if we can move beyond film for just a mo, the virtual reality showcase Jumpgate will return this year, including work from disabled British artist Sue Austin. However, Austin will also be appearing in Creating the Spectacle, a live, underwater performance piece taking place at the North Adelaide Aquatic Centre (!). Described by Amanda Duthie as the centrepiece of the festival, Austin will perform in her purpose-built, one of a kind underwater propelled wheelchair – “please don’t miss it,” begged Duthie at the launch. This piece will be filmed and projected poolside but if you’re scuba certified, premium underwater admission is available. Also, if you’re not certified, for an additional fee you can get scuba training included in your ticket price. Adelaide Film Festival, you’re cooked but I love you.
Adelaide Film Festival runs from 10 – 21 October, follow Collage Adelaide for our reviews over the course of the festival.
– Rob Lawry