Auburn Film Festival Review by Madalene Chu
Reading Cinemas (film)
September 22, 2003

Adult Produced

25 Kids and One Dad Huang Hong, Live Action 90' China 2002
After wealthy chicken farmer Zhao Guang donates money to an orphanage and boasts that he is the orphan’s father on television, he finds himself caring for 25 orphans. The children arrive while Zhao is at the top of his chicken-farming world and the centre of his community just in time to challenge and forcing him to reprioritise certain aspects of his life.
A delightful movie with serene rural settings to complement the story line but it the film’s unique sense of humour which sets it apart. The images of rural life from feeding chickens to bathing in rivers draws us into Zhao’s world while the witty characters allows us to be charmed by it.
25 Kids and One Dad won first prize CIFEJ at Isfahan International Children's Film Festival Iran.

Sing Sing Sing Roswitha Menzel, Animation 11'50" Germany 2002
This plasticine animation takes a while to get use to but once you get past the surrealist element of a mermaid invading the life of a seamstress the short film can truly be appreciated for what it is.
The nature of creativity is explored through the seamstress’ boredom of creating uniforms. She longs to create beautiful dresses but in a controlled manner. However she discovers that creativity which appears in the form of a mermaid and colourful, unrulely sheep, cannot be contained but allowed to freely flow. The use of music and colour help illustrate the vibrant nature of creativity in contrast to the dull, white apartment and flat, uninspired music employed when the seamstress is alone making uniforms.

Noora Mahmood Shoulizadeh, Live Action 84' Iran 2002
When two children Noora and Niaz are involved in a train accident, Niaz feels that he is responsible for his sister’s injuries. Their family who live independently in the mountains North of Iran (The Caspian Sea Region) are under increasing financial pressure due to Noora’s rising medical bills. As a result Niaz tries to undo help meet the costs but each of his attempts lands his family into more trouble.
Noora is a film which deals with childhood feelings of responsibility, guilt and helplessness. When Niaz’s grandmother tells him that because he is a child he shouldn’t worry and he should “pray to God for Noora” he takes it literally and feels is that the only way he can help his sister is to take her up to the heavens where God can heal her. And so he takes her up to the top of a mountain where brilliant panoramic panning shots of mountains overwhelm the viewer.
The film successfully depicts themes of guilt as the bright colours of the forest and quick camera work reflecting the care free feelings of the children at the beginning of the movie is sharply contrasted with the slow panning, foggy landscape at the end where the children wait on a mountain top under a cloud of belief and worry.
Noora has been a part of many international Film Festivals including Flanders International Film Festival Ghent Belgium in October 7-17, 2003.

Sirkka Pu Lehtinen, Live Action 13' Finland 2002
Sirkka is a sweet, little story of a boy name Ville first love. The dialogue between Ville and Sirkka reminds viewers of a simpler time when attraction was determined but factors such as height. It is a visually exciting film where bright, vivid colours and running shots of open fields help the viewer connect with the freeing feeling of first love.
The montage of images as Ville reflects on his first kiss, the light, delicate music, the panning out from Ville and the images of the grasshopper and Sirkka jumping help create a feeling of transcendence in both Ville and the viewer.

Parramatta Riverside Theatres (video)
September 23, 2003

Adult Produced

Trouble of being a Boy Jamil Rostami, Live Action 24'50" Iran 2002
Trouble of being a boy is an immersing tale of a young boy named Sirvan who after mistakenly bringing back the wrong rooster, is sent by his mother to search the whole village for their rooster or face a beating should he return home without it.
After following Sirvan around the village and watching his desperation grow, viewers can't help but sympathise with his situation. Despite the simplicity of Sirvan's problems, the way they engulf his very being is infectious to the viewer.
The village constitutes his small world but while concentrating so hard on his rooster problem he forgets about the even bigger threat of those outside the village which arrives in the form of a travelling circumciser. The foreboding music, slow motion and close up shots of what appears to be a harmless old man makes it all the more funny when we find out who he is and why all the boys are scared of him.

Child Produced

Broken Window Monika Witczak / Natalia Wojtysiak, Live Action 7'57" Poland 2003
It's the story of the lives of two very different brothers, one who is very active and sociable and the other is disabled and a social outcast.
When a basketball from the older brothers game crashes through the window of the younger brother's room, the lives of the brothers cross giving the younger brother an opportunity to join in with his brother's activities.
The most interesting aspect of this film is use of a buzzing fly sound over fast forward motion to depict the rapid repetition of the family's morning ritual.

Australian Primary School Productions

A Good Heart Ashden Walker, Live Action 4'30" Australia 2003
An African student named Obeoma finds it hard fitting in at her new Australian school. Ridiculed for looking different and having an unusual name, Obeoma has the chance to prove herself in front of her peers in the school race but loses out to the boastful school bully.
The use of dramatic music and slow motion is used to emphasis her loss but it is in failure where she reveals that her name means 'A Good Heart'. A Good Heart teaches children a valuable lesson that individual personality is far more important than superficial glory of winning.

An Alien! Bardic Drama School Primary Class, Live Action 3' Australia 2002
Fantasy and Science fiction are commonly used genres in children books and films which allow children to explore complex issues. The children at Bardic Drama school have used an alien to explore complex issues the treatment of those who are different in appearance.
When the children treat the alien as an oddity, singling her out and persecuting her the newcomer left feeling alone and alienated.
Loyalty and friendship are also themes this film addresses.

My Bottle Alex Willis, Live Action 4'17"Australia 2003
A boy who loses his bottle at the beach is reunited with it 15 years later as a young adult. This results in him reverting back to his childhood with the final image of him as wrapped up in a 'duckie' towel and sucking his bottle.
Every aspect of this film from music to the font in the credits has a childlike quality which all goes into reinforcing the dominant themes of the film.

Catastrophe at Midday Kinchela Public School, Live Action 4'30" Australia 2002
The midday news is interrupted when a serial killer attacks their reporters. The killer is eventually caught when Shikira music which forces him to dance.
Although the story line may seem a little ridiculous Catastrophe at Midday does say a lot about production values of news institutions. But most obvious is the enjoyment of the cast and crew in making this film and as an audience, we can are let in on their private little joke.

Sawtell Skid Marks James Vial, Live Action 6'24" Australia 2002
A strange phenomenon occurs every four years at the Sawtell Retirement Village where residents are rejuvenated and play soccer for a few hours. Music is employed to help audience make distinctions between the old and the young. Raw edgy music and the Pink Panther Theme song is used to represent the mischievous children and the mysterious nature of the event. This is juxtapose to the soft, light music of the old people.

Steve Curwin - The Brave Crocodile Hunter Jack Grant, Live Action 2'25" Australia 2003
Steve Curwin is parody of the zealous Australian icon Steve Urwin where his over enthusiastic nature has him wrestling inanimate objects such as bottles. In his excitement he puts not only himself in dangerous situation but others as well. However his lust for life an comic nature has the audience forgiving him quickly. Steve Curwin successfully presents the unique Australian knack of being able to laugh at ourselves.

The Fig Tree Controversy Ben Fletcher, Live Action 4'46" Australia 2002
This mocumentary presents the debate in a small town over whether or not to cut down iconic fig trees to make room for more disabled parking. It explores different opinions from opposing groups. This film addresses complex issues by exploring different but all valid opinions rather than offering the audience just one opinion to side with. By doing so The Fig Tree Controversy teaches children that in life there really is no right or wrong answer. This is evident in the shopkeeper who takes both sides for his own, very different reasons.

Parramatta Riverside Theatres (video)
September 25, 2003

Adult Produced Features

Gipsy Ali Shah Hatami, 90' Live Action Iran 2002
In a drought stricken village, a teenager Rasoul is exiled when he offends his village and the Dotari player (traditional Iranian musical instrument) who knows "The Melody of the Gods" which provokes rain. He then goes out into the desert in search of the Dotari player to learn "The Melody of Gods" himself to help bring rain to his village.
Hatami has managed to weld together image and sound seamlessly with vast, panning shots of endless desert in contrast to the energetic, rhythmic motion of the music which is the only thing that has life in the film. Excellent use of framing devices such as arches, doorways, circles and windows throughout the film to draw viewer attention different people, places and things. But it is the scene when the rains finally come and Rasoul stands alone, arms raised towards the heavens and blood washing off his hands that is simply inspiring.

XS The Worst Size Jorge Lopez Sotomayor, Live Action 87' Chile 2002
In a school where image is everything and pupils work hard to maintain the images, Victor finds himself in trouble when he destroys the persona of school bully Miranda. After Victor accidentally walks in on Miranda nicknamed 'The Machine' showering he discovers that Miranda actual has a small package. The news races through the school like wild fire and when Victor is traced as the informant, Miranda challenges him to a fight.
XS The Worst Size presents us with the complete teenage experience. It depicts their multiple relationships with parents, authority figures, friends, peers and lovers. The fast pace of the film sweeps viewers away and forces us to be a part of Victor's experience. Fast forward sequences are perfectly employed throughout the film to illustrate the confusion and overwhelming nature of this world. Music is carefully chosen to reflect Victor's thoughts and feelings but it is during the fight scene in which tribal music is used to indicate the how primitive the situation is that truly stands out in my mind.
The brilliant and passionate performances by all involved makes the experience as real to the viewer as it is to the characters. By doing so XS The Worst Size successfully deals with issues of identity and masculinity in a real and confronting manner and teaches us, as Miranda says, that we need to 'learn not to judge people'.

Parramatta Riverside Theatres (video)
September 26, 2003

Youth Produced INFAC

Toilet Story Sebastian Borowczyk, Live Action 4'37" Korea 2003
Toilet Story is a comedy where a young man experiences feelings of euphoria, desperation, love and loss while in a toilet. In the absence of dialogue, the over exaggerated facial expressions and dramatic music all goes into playing up the comedic aspect of the film. The range of emotions experienced by the young man in such a short period of time is purely funny in itself.

Knock Knock 'Open Your Mind' Jo, Sun Hyung, Live Action 5'02" Korea 2003
Two people from diverse cultural backgrounds are disgusted by each other's breakfast. The facial expressions and body language of the characters communicate their feelings of revolution and the country bumpkin music strongly suggests the closed minded nature of the characters. It is only when they are willing to try each other's food does a free flowing dialogue, open body language and a sharing of each other's culture occurs between the two characters and this interaction is reflected through its use of modern music.

The Bench Hyun A, Live Action 3'13" Korea 2003
A public bench provides the location for two people from different cultures to interact but a puddle which separates them prevents them from doing so. Clever use of subtitles and special effects to convey the secret desires of the characters.

Frame Kim Jung Wom, Live Action 3'01" Korea 2003
A girl experiences a terrifying flashback over abuse inflicted on her by her peers at school. The slightly distorted images, warped camera angles, jerky camera action, blurred figures and dominance of heat beat sound all contribute to helping the audience understand the anxiety and fear she experiences.