MIFF 68½ – Australian Shorts (presented by Film Victoria)

Call History (2020)

Written, directed & co-produced by Lillian Paterson

Single-set drama showcase for actress Zoe Terakes. As a young woman in denial leaves phone messages for her ex-girlfriend and dodges calls from her new boyfriend (a shared friend), the truth of the situation becomes apparent.

The Diver (2019)

Written & produced by Michael Leonard, directed by Jamie Helmer & Michael Leonard (The Knife Salesman)

A series of vignettes are strung together featuring a young man with violent impulses who doesn’t recognise normal social cues and only seems comfortable when submerged in the water. There’s a fraught relationship with his father, who (according to the description of the film) has suggested diving as a calming activity – which may well be the case, but there’s no way you could tell from watching it. That said, I really liked this one. The central backstory of violent incidents is hinted at through dialogue and physicality but never depicted. Carefully composed shots emphasise the alienation between father and son. Water is a central motif, appearing in various contexts and providing both father and son moments of contemplation and (partial) escape (although it’s possible this doesn’t work out so well for one of them). Jessie L. Warren’s sound composition (in combination with Sean Crowley & Vincent Arnardi’s sound design) provides an evocative soundtrack incorporating drones and liquid sounds which encapsulate the feel of this piece.

Don’t Forget to Go Home (2020)

Written & directed by Victoria Singh-Thompson

Two Fijian-Indian sisters leave a family wedding to meet friends, pick up some MDMA and head into Sydney for a rave. The younger sister has tagged along, while the older sister is clearly hoping the night will provide an opportunity to hook up with her female friend, whose boyfriend is supplying the drugs. The direction, editing and cinematography effectively capture the euphoria, disorientation, temporal disjunction and emotional intensification of the drug experience before the sudden silence of the comedown and return home.

The Echo (2020)

Written, directed & produced by Michael Gupta

3 minute experimental film adapting Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “The Rider”. Switches rapidly between random scenes featuring a boy. The narration didn’t seem to connect strongly with the images and despite some interesting techniques, I was left wondering what the point was.

Laura (2020)

Co-written, directed & co-produced by Madeleine Gottlieb (I F*cked a Mermaid and No One Believes Me)

Two male friends meet again for the first time since the death of their friend in highschool. Good performances capture the awkwardness of men in their 20s skirting around discussing their emotions. The dialogue when they finally open up didn’t feel as natural to me, but I can’t fault the performances.

The Moogai (2020)

Written & directed by Jon Bell (Cleverman)

Spooky ghost story about a Bundjalung spirit who wants an Indigenous Australian couple’s newborn baby. Mostly conveyed through suggestion, reaction shots and creepy children. There’s a touch of disappointing CGI at the end, but it doesn’t spoil the overall effect.

Not a Wallflower (2020)

Written & directed by Lianne Mackessy

Short and sweet romantic comedy set in a flower shop. Awkward male shop assistant with a crush on a regular customer finally connects with her, despite the intrusions of his pretentious boss who clearly thinks very little of his flower arrangement skills.

Objects of My Disaffection (2020)

Written, directed & produced by Sarah-Jane Woulahan (A Terrible Beauty)

A powerful piece built around the emotional detritus left in the aftermath of a messy divorce. Dana Miltins plays a woman with a lot of unresolved anger as she takes her daughter to her ex’s place for the first time, feels disconnected from the contented parents of her daughter’s friends, and deals with the passive aggressive emotional blank spot that is her ex. These scenes are interspersed with scenes related to 16 objects that have come to embody all the negative aspects of the past several years as she gives away, destroys or otherwise disposes of them in an exorcism of the past. Samuel Kreusler’s precarious percussion music bounces around in representation of her emotional fragility while red streaks of paint sweep across the screen to obliterate painful people or objects, with the score breaking forth full force into screaming metallic white noise at the heights of her distress. The music drops away completely at the end as she removes the last of the objects from her life. Intense but cathartic and leavened with humour.

Tâm (2020)

Written, directed & co-produced by Nora Niasari (Waterfall)

Tense, claustrophobic and distressing depiction of sexual assault and its aftermath. A young woman wakes up in a strange hotel room with no memory of how she got there. Effective but not something I really needed to see.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s