Matt's Blog


An Excitingly Broad Program On Offer At BIFF 2010


I can’t help myself.  I always get overexcited when the program is released each year for the St George Brisbane International Film Festival.  As a look through the list of the film, there are always so many that I want to see.  The tricky part is narrowing the list down to something that is manageable.


For those that haven’t been to a BIFF before, now’s your chance.  This is how I usually sell it to people…


Roughly 4 new releases come out in Brisbane cinemas every Thursday.  During BIFF, you have the chance to see more than 100 different films over an 11 day period.  As they say, variety is the spice of life.


I reflected back on some of my favourite BIFF memories in a piece I wrote on the Regent Cinema not too long ago.  You can check it out here.


The easiest way to book tickets is through the BIFF website – - or through the brand new iPhone application.  I’ve locked in most of my tickets already this year and it was incredibly easy.  I really like the iPhone app too – you can see the whole catalogue as well as just the films you’ve booked tickets for.


Ticket prices for most films are $15.  It’s a little more expensive for some of the bigger screenings (e.g. opening night, closing night).  Concession rates are available and there are also discounts if you buy multiple tickets.


Everyone will be looking for something different but I’ve gone with a similar strategy to previous years when picking my films.  I’ve chosen a few of the bigger films which will get a nationwide cinema release down the track (so I can get a heads up on my review).  I’ve also gone with a few smaller films based solely on the blurb in the program.  Sometimes the best way to see a movie is to know as little about it as possible.


I’ve tried to spread the screenings around the three venues (Palace Centro, Palace Barracks and Tribal) as well as juggling my time.  I’ve stacked the weekends with many films (looks like I won’t be playing golf for a few weeks) while squeezing in a few during the week after work.


I think it’s one of the best programs assembled in a long time.  BIFF has a new Festival Director this year (Richard Moore) who has gone with a broad program.  If you can’t find something worth seeing, then you’re too hard to please!


I’m trying to line up a few interviews with directors / actors this year and if I do, you’ll be sure to read about them on my website.


As a quick head’s up - without the big Regent Cinema this year, I’m expecting tickets for many films to sell out.  Once you’ve got a list together, I’d strongly recommend you book.


Ultimately, BIFF is a lot of fun.  You’ll often find yourself sitting in a packed theatre with some knowledgeable filmgoers watching something that you’ll never have the chance to see again.  It’s provided me many memories over the past 15 years and I’ll have a lot more in a few weeks’ time.


Hopefully I’ll get to catch up with many friends, Facebook followers and Twitter followers during the festival.  Below is a list of the films I’m booked in to see (with a quick plot overview from the BIFF website).  Any of them sound good?  If so, I’ll see you there!



Friday, 5 November at 7:00pm (Palace Barracks)


A 'womantic' Brisbane-based comedy about the bond between best friends.


Jackie (Francesca Gasteen) and Lucy (Cindy Nelson) together are 'Jucy', two 20-something Brisbane slackers who spend their days together working in a dead-end job, smoking pot and playing video games. Things aren't too bad – except that everyone keeps telling them it's time to get serious about their lives.


An empathetic, funny chick-buddy flick about the perils of 'growing up', Jucy proves that writer–director team Stephen Vagg and Louise Alston (All My Friends Are Leaving Brisbane) are no flash in the pan.


The American

Friday, 5 November at 9:15pm (Palace Centro)


A hitman falls in love while working one last job.


But will he live to see his life transformed? The sensationally likeable George Clooney plays against type as the Ugly American in this slow-burn thriller set in the hill towns of Italy. On the run from vengeful Swedish mercenaries, 'Mr Butterfly' – as he is known professionally – is a master assassin whose life has gone horribly wrong.


A twist on the hitman-thriller genre from photographer-turned-filmmaker Anton Corbijn (Control), The American is a simmering portrait of a man struggling to put down his gun and walk away for good.



Saturday, 6 November at 2:00pm (Palace Barracks)


Evil: It's just cooler.


Being a super-villain isn't easy. It's tough coming up with new plans for world domination, especially when that pesky arch-nemesis always seems to turn up to foil them. But when one of Megamind's evil schemes to defeat superhero Metroman actually works, he finds himself pondering bigger questions, such as "what now?"


From a distant planet destroyed by a black hole comes two superbeings locked in a life-long battle for supremacy – so what happens when the bad guy wins?


Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Jonah Hill and Brad Pitt lend their hilarious voicing talents to Megamind. He's big, he's blue and he's about to take over the world.



Saturday, 6 November at 7:00pm (Tribal)


A mega-mix of Twin Peaks, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Donnie Darko, fuelled by hallucinogenic cookies.


This wild, sex-drenched, indie horror-comedy from director Gregg Araki (The Doom Generation, Mysterious Skin) debuted at Cannes earlier this year, garnering the festival's first ever 'Queer Palm' award.


Replete with Araki's staple pithy one-liners and white-hot sex scenes, Kaboom follows the adventures of a bisexual college freshman who goes tripping on hallucinogenic cookies and imagines (or does he?) that he's witnessed a gruesome murder.


Beautiful people, stylish sex and a mind-blowing murderous cult make this film a striking addition to Araki's artistic and philosophical manifesto.


Wasted On The Young

Saturday, 6 November at 9:30pm (Palace Centro)


When a high school party goes dangerously off the rails, revenge is just a computer click away.


Ben C. Lucas's look at the dark side of high school will have most parents worried, but anyone under 30 will respond well to this sex-obsessed, drink-and-drugs-fuelled story of school and internet bullying told with pace and panache.


Adults don't register here – it's just the kids and their laws. A strict social hierarchy is enforced, and the consequences of bucking its authority can be very, very high.


When two half-brothers set their sights on the same girl, the repercussions will implode the carefully maintained power structures and bring dire consequences for everyone involved.



Saturday, 6 November at 11:00pm (Tribal)


A film about a tyre. With psychic powers. On a murderous rampage.


Would we lie to you? This movie is every bit as weird as you'd expect, but it won independent filmmaker Quentin Dupieux (aka electronic music producer Mr Oizo) a 2010 Critics' Week screening at Cannes this year, and achieved instant cult status.


After having his affections for a beautiful woman rebuffed, the all-weather protagonist takes out his anger management issues on everyone he encounters using his deadly telekinetic powers.


An absurdist road movie, Rubber goes where others fear to tread.



Sunday, 7 November at 12:00pm (Tribal)


Five documentary filmmakers take an unconventional look at the hidden side of everything.


Proving that truth is often freakier than fiction, Freakonomics is an adaptation of Steven Levitt and Stephen Dubner's best-selling book that applied statistical and economic theory to various phenomena, finding disturbing explanations and insights.


A who's-who of documentary directors – including Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me), Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side) and Eugene Jarecki (Why We Fight) – offer their individual and often startling takes on topics as diverse as baby-naming, corruption in sumo wrestling, Roe v. Wade and successfully bribing students to improve their grades.


Enter The Void

Sunday, 7 November at 4:30pm (Palace Barracks)


A hallucinatory roller coaster ride from the master of transgressive cinema, Gasper Noé (Irreversible).


When an American drug dealer is killed plying his trade in neon-lit Tokyo, his spirit refuses to leave this world, instead remaining to watch over his sister from the void.


Gasper Noé dazzling visual opus Enter the Void has been hailed as a ambitious landmark of cinematography, a delirious and kinetic assault on the senses. Scenes of graphic violence and explicit sex will keep sensitive viewers away, but more adventurous cinema-goers are in for a mind-bending thrill ride.



Sunday, 7 November at 7:00pm (Palace Barracks)


War from the inside.


Trapped inside a tank behind enemy lines during the first Israeli-Lebanon war of 1982, a naïve young Israeli crew grapple with confusion, heat and equipment failure, to ultimately question the idea of the war itself. Lebanon provides a unique perspective on the horror of war; one experienced solely from within the belly of a tank.


A fictionalised account of director Samuel Maoz's own war experiences, this claustrophobic (anti-)war film won the Golden Lion Award at last year's Venice film festival.


I Killed My Mother

Tuesday, 9 November at 6:30pm (Palace Centro)


At the age of just 20, Xavier Dolan wrote, directed and starred in this masterful film about the fraught relationship between a mother and son.


Dripping with equal measures of fury and affection, this coming of age comedy from rising star Xavier Dolan received a nine minute standing ovation when it premiered at Cannes.


The mother–son relationship is placed on a skewer and roasted as Hubert, a disaffected gay teen, and his mother Chantale take up the proverbial hammer and tongs. It's verbal warfare at close quarters as Dolan probes deeper and deeper into the complexities of the mother and son dynamic.


Dolan's second feature, Heartbeats, is also screening at this year's festival.


Dog Pound

Tuesday, 9 November at 9:00pm (Palace Barracks)


Fighting back is the only way out.


When three young delinquents – Butch, David and Angel – find themselves thrown into juvenile detention in Enola Vale, Montana, they're told to keep their heads down.


The three quickly find themselves immersed in a culture of violence and torment. If you thought the TV series Oz was tough, think again.


Director Kim Chapiron (Sheitan) has populated his prison cast with actual ex-cons, lending a chilling authenticity to this depiction of a juvenile detention system that serves as a brutal training ground for aggression and violence.


Inside Job

Thursday, 11 November at 6:00pm (Palace Barracks)


Two years ago, a global financial crisis erupted – and apparently no one saw it coming. Just how could this happen?


The massive financial meltdown, which cost over $20 trillion, resulted in millions of people losing their homes and jobs. Narrated by Matt Damon, this film pulls no punches as it talks to key financial insiders, politicians and journalists to help dissect the corrupted rogue system that gave rise to the crisis.


Director Charles Ferguson makes sense of the obscure financial processes set up to throw off even the most nimble-minded financiers and criminal investigators. Piece by piece he builds a compelling case against the financial services industry, declaring them to be one enormous criminal enterprise.


The Red Chapel

Friday, 12 November at 2:00pm (Tribal)


Michael Moore meets Bruno, as an elaborate prank takes three Danes into the heart of North Korea.


Director Mads Brügger and a Danish-Korean comedy duo (one of whom is a self-proclaimed "spastic") spend two weeks in North Korea, ostensibly preparing a performance for the residents of Pyongyang. But Brügger's real aim is to make a guerrilla-style expose of the ruthless police state.


Always under the careful eye of their state-assigned hostess Ms Pak, each night they must submit their footage to 'video specialists' who will edit out any material that might impugn the Dear Leader, Kim Jong-Il.


Winner of the World Cinema Documentary grand jury prize at this year's Sundance Film Festival.


The Dark Crystal

Friday, 12 November at 6:30pm (Tribal)


Another world, another time, in the Age of Wonder.


With rumours of a studio remake in the offing, we bring you this much-loved 1982 classic. Jim Henson's first feature film outside of the Muppet franchise, it was a dark departure from the bright comic fun of Kermit the Frog, Miss Piggy and Gonzo, and paved the way for Labyrinth and the TV show The Jim Henson Hour.


An age-old story of good versus evil gets the Henson treatment in this shadowy world of benevolent Mystics and the wicked Skeksis. With the Dark Crystal damaged, it is up to a young Gelfling to travel to the lair of the Skeksis and take back the missing shard, to save the world from being engulfed by evil.


Red Hill

Friday, 12 November at 6:30pm (Tribal)


Revenge just rode into town.


It's in the form of escaped Aboriginal convict Jimmy Conway (Tommy Lewis, The Chant Of Jimmy Blacksmith), but this neo-western isn't just about black-white race relations in the Australian bush. It centres on the blooding of a young policeman (Ryan Kwanten of HBO's True Blood), new to this small country town, who has to deal with Conway's bloody campaign of revenge against the local cops.


Director Patrick Hughes brings us a contemporary take on the western genre, creating a film that is often violent and blood-soaked, but never predictable.


Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll

Saturday, 13 November at 4:00pm (Tribal)


Hit me with your rhythm stick…


Andy Serkis plays British punk legend Ian Dury in a film that distils the surly musician's style – vaudevillian, camp and hilarious. This energetic biopic from director Mat Whitecross (Road to Guantanamo) charts the rise and fall of Dury and his band of music hall misfits, capturing the essence of a charismatic rocker who possessed charm and venom in equal quantities.


Serkis is the real hero here, giving a searing performance as the bulgy-eyed, self-obsessed, punk-rock poet with a chip on his shoulder the size of Essex. Like him or hate him, you gotta love him.



Saturday, 13 November at 6:30pm (Centro)


"Poetry makes nothing happen," said W.H. Auden. But he didn't live to see the impact that Alan Ginsberg's 1956 masterpiece 'Howl' had on conservative America post-WWII.


Directors Rob Epstein and Jeffrey Friedman have created an experimental format to show the shockwaves produced by one single piece of writing. Their unorthodox approach includes a simulated interview with Ginsberg (played by James Franco), dramatisations of his life and the landmark obscenity trial his poem incited, and finally, the poem itself: imagined in surreal animation.


A deeply satisfying intellectual deconstruction and analysis of the poet as well as the poem, Howl brings Ginsberg's seminal work to yet another generation of young radicals.


Machete Maidens Unleashed

Sunday, 14 November at 2:00pm (Barracks)


No budget, no scruples, no boundaries and usually no clothes.


This Brisbane-based production lays bare the sordid world of genre film made in the Philippines during the 70s and 80s. These schlock-laden movies - think monsters, jungle prisons, blaxploitation and kung fu hybrids - were made by enterprising B-movie producers when Ferdinand Marcos's oppressive regime was at its most severe.


Featuring funny behind-the-scenes anecdotes from filmmakers, actors and producers - including the likes of Roger Corman, Joe Dante and John Landis - along with plenty of hilarious clips from the low-budget pics, Machete Maidens Unleashed! charts the wild frontier of an almost completely unregulated off-shore film industry.


Blue Valentine

Sunday, 14 November at 7:00pm (Barracks)


Michelle Williams and Ryan Gosling star in a heartbreaking tale of love gone wrong.


Cindy, subtly played by Michelle Williams, is not your average suburban mum. She has – in old-fashioned parlance – married beneath her, and husband Dean (Ryan Gosling) can't get the tone of the marriage right.


Director Derek Cianfrance wields his cinematic scalpel with agonising precision as he cuts into the core of a diseased marriage, packing an emotional punch worthy of the late John Cassavetes.


Brooklyn indie-rock band Grizzly Bear provide a soulful score.


Talking With Director Richard Gray About Summer Coda


 Richard Gray With Matthew Toomey


There's a nice new Australian film out this week called Summer Coda.  I had the chance to catch up with first time director Richard Gray to talk about the film and the interesting journey in getting it to the big screen.


For those too lazy to read all of this (tsk tsk), you can download a podcast of the interview in my special interview section.  Just click here.


Matt:  You started out working in a cinema. Is that correct?  What was your role there?


Richard:  That’s right.  From the age of 15, I’ve been working in cinemas.  When you’re a film nerd, the best place to work is at a cinema because you get free movie tickets.  I worked from making popcorn, to selling tickets, to working the projection booth.  I always tried to hang out up there so I could watch hundreds of films.


Matt:  So does this mean you get to see the same films over and over?  Is that actually a good way to learn the craft?


Richard:  It’s funny.  Where I worked there were 7 cinemas and there were black and white monitors up in the projection area that you’d watch to make sure they were playing in the right aspect ratio and there was nothing wrong with the prints.  It was a great way to learn how to edit because when it’s mute and you’re not listening to the audio, all you can see are the cuts in the film.  So I found that really fascinating – I’d just sit there and watch the monitors.


Matt:  So what was it then that kicked you off – that made you decide to be a filmmaker?


Richard:  I started making my own short films when I was 15 after I found out I wasn’t a very good actor.  It’s when you work with great actors that you realise what an amazing craft it is.  I just wanted to write stories to be able to work with great actors.  I was lucky enough to go to school with Cassandra Magrath who is an actor in the film.  We went to high school together and she was great to put in short films and it went from there.


Matt:  You did the whole short film thing trying to make a name for yourself?


Richard:  Yeah.  I made a bunch of short films and then went to the Victorian College of the Arts and did a Bachelor of Film there.  That was great.  I learned how to shoot on 16mm which is kind of dying now, learning to shoot on film.  It was great for me to get in there with the swansong of film and learn how to make films on film.  I made a few short films there and the last one did well at film festivals and that gave me a kick into the industry.


Matt:  Let’s talk now about Summer Coda.  I believe like any film, especially for a first time filmmaker, it takes a long time to get up off the ground.  How long did it actually take?


Richard:  I wrote Summer Coda in 2004 so it’s been six years.  It’s very hard to fund an Australian film so you go through the funding bodies and it takes a long time.  The cast comes in and goes out of the film too.  We were lucky to get everything together at the right time – this time last year.  Getting people like Rachael Taylor, Alex Dimitriades, Jackie Weaver, Susie Porter, Angus Sampson really gives a great confidence to your investors that the story is one worth telling.  We also wanted to make it commercial – a really good looking film that people would want to go and see at the cinema.  We hope that we’ve done that.


Matt:  Because it takes so long, what happens in the meantime?  What keeps you occupied?  What keeps the money rolling in while you’re waiting to get the film made?


Richard:  For me it’s cooking shows and lifestyle television.  I love that side of my day job.  It’s relaxing.  Financing a feature film is stressful stuff.  It’s nice to be able to sit back on a cooking show set eating fine food and drinking fine wine.


Matt:  So what was your role on the cooking show?


Richard:  I produced and directed a series called Stefano’s Cooking Paradiso.  Stefano de Pieri people will know from A Gondola On The Murray, a TV series.


After going up to Mildura over five years looking for locations, I developed a really close bond with Stefano and we made the cooking series last year for the Lifestyle Channel.  I’ve also done a bunch of docos and different lifestyle television but working with Stefano on the cooking show is my favourite thing to do.


Matt:  You’ve touched on Mildura, the film’s setting.  We’ll talk about the cinematography as well because it was stunning.  Why was that particular location the one you wanted for the film?


Richard:  Although my family is all from the country - Bendigo and a place called Hamilton – I actually grew up in the city.  So I went to my grandparents’ house in the country to write the film because I needed some peace and quiet and a clear head.  It was the best thing I ever did.


But I didn’t know where oranges came from in Australia and I knew I wanted to tell this story about fruit picking because of stories I’d heard growing up as a kid.  So I googled “citrus” and up came “Mildura” and then I clicked on “Mildura” and up came the name “Stefano”.  I then went up and had a meeting with Stefano.  I found Mildura that way.


Mildura is such an amazing place.  Because of the river and the irrigation, it’s like an oasis.  You drive into the town and it’s all palm trees and orchards and vines but you’re six hours from the coast.  It’s kind of a surreal place but also a beautiful place.


Matt:  When I hear stories being made of these Australian films in small towns, the people of the town love to get behind the film.  Did you have that here?  Did you have a lot of people wanting to play a part or helping out where they could with the making of the movie?


Richard:  It a cliché sometimes when people say that the location is a character in the film but with Summer Coda it most certainly is.  Rachael Taylor is travelling home from America and she comes across this town and she goes off on this fruit picking adventure.  We couldn’t have made the film without the help of the people of Mildura.  They provided citrus blocks, avocado trees, houses, roads, their properties.  They taught Alex Dimitriades how to drive tractors and operate machinery.


All the fruit pickers learned how to pick at a place called Orange World which is like the Disneyland of citrus.  All the fruit pickers, Angus Sampson and Nathan Phillips, came up two weeks early for orange picking “boot camp”.  The town provided tremendous support and in fact one of our major sponsors was the Mildura Brewery which kept us cool in the 45 degree heat.


Matt:  Let’s talk quickly about the cast.  Rachael Taylor is a great up and coming actress.  Alex Dimitriades who has been around for a while now, a very familiar name.  The key with any romantic drama is that you need the connection between the two characters.  You want the audience to engage and go along the journey them.  What was it about these two actors?  How did you know they were the ones who’d be perfect for your movie?


Richard:  I’d watched Alex Dimitriades for a long time growing up in some great films and television but I hadn’t seen him in a romantic lead.  I really wanted to see him in a romantic film where he was just playing the lead role.  He wasn’t playing a Greek role, or an Italian role, or a crime role or a drug role – he was just the romantic lead.  He was such an amazing guy to work with.


Rachael Taylor on the other hand… many people will have seen her in Transformers and her other big U.S. films but I saw her in this film called Bottle Shock which is about the beginning of the wine industry in the Napa Valley.  She’s lovely in it and she’s acting opposite Alan Rickman and Bill Pullman.  Seeing her in that made me think she’d be perfect for this film.


Also because people think of her as American and the character in Summer Coda is American.  Rachael actually comes from Launceston in Tasmania.  She was very “country” and very astute at knowing what a small town is like.  She was a delight to work with.  She actually did 4 months of violin training at UCLA before she came over for the role.


Matt:  I noticed there were a few scenes that were shot in the United States.  Cost wise, is that difficult to be able to do that?


Richard:  Summer Coda was privately funded but back when it was going to be government funded, we were always going to shoot the American scenes in Australia.  I was against that however.  I really wanted to make the two deserts look different.  When Rachael Taylor’s character comes from the Nevada desert to the Mildura desert, I wanted to show people how different those two sceneries look.  We don’t have cactus and we don’t have snow capped mountains behind our deserts.


From a money side of things, you find that when doing things independently, your dollar goes a lot further.  We had a tremendous supporter in Virgin Blue that took care of us and flew us over.  It enabled us to do a lot of things and make it look as big as it does… to make the price of a cinema ticket worthwhile.


Matt:  The thing that struck me most about the film was the cinematography.  It captures that part of Australia so beautifully.  It’s so clear the way it appears on screen but I believe it wasn’t shot using film.  How did you pull that off?  How did you make it look so good?


Richard:  The cinematographer was Greg De Marigny and it was his first film.  I think because it was my first film as well that we both put a lot of work into the craft of the film – trying to make it for the big screen.


As Greg is from Africa but also from New Zealand, he looks at the Australian landscape differently.  We sometimes take it for granted but Greg saw such beauty in our landscape and he was able to capture that.  We were really wary of wanting the film to look like a big and beautiful romantic drama.  We don’t much like handheld or gritty or depressing films.  Greg did an amazing job.


Matt:  You used a different type of camera, didn’t you?


Richard:  Yeah.  For many years we held off making Summer Coda because HD video technology just wasn’t up to scratch and film was too expensive.  In recent years there’s been a camera come out called The Red.  I won’t bore you with the details but it’s revolutionary at its price point.  It’s high definition pictures but it’s not video.  To my eye it looks like something in between film and video but if you put fantastic film lenses on your camera, you are blown away by the results.


People watch Summer Coda and can’t believe it wasn’t shot on 35mm film.  That’s what we want.  As we move forward, it’s so expensive to go the movies.  You don’t want to be paying more for a movie ticket and getting less quality pictures which was happening with HD video.


Matt:  Let’s talk about the score, the soundtrack.  We’ve got orchestral music and we’ve got traditional type songs as well.  I’m a big lover of film composition.  I’ve got a bunch of soundtracks at home – Thomas Newman, James Horner and John Williams.  Now you’re the guy in charge of a film and you get a composer in.  How awesome is that?


Richard:  The music is my favourite part as well.  Since I’ve been 18, instead of rocking out to hard core music, I’ve been playing movie soundtracks from the guys you’ve mentioned.  When I’m writing a film, that’s the music I’m listening too and it was a big influence on our soundtrack.


The beautiful thing about Summer Coda was that because Rachael Taylor’s character plays the violin, it allowed us to have a really big orchestral score.  When I often go to Australian movies, the soundtrack isn’t that great.  It doesn’t leave you wanting to buy the soundtrack like a European or American film.


We actually had Australian greatest violinist play the solo violin in the film and we were able to piece together a big orchestral score around that.  The score has a country-type feel when Rachael’s hitch-hiking through the desert but when she arrives at the orange grove, it kicks into a big score which is great.


I became friends with the composer while I was at film school.  As she’s travelled the world playing violin, I’ve been sending her little scenes and she’d be composing to those scenes.  Whenever she knew she’d be in a place where she could record score, she’s do so.  It was cool because we had different musicians doing different genres.  Whether it was Prague or London or Sydney, it was slowly coming together.  We planned the music well ahead of time so it wouldn’t feel like an add on.


Matt:  Now that it’s all finished, do you get nervous waiting to see how it goes at the box-office and what the critics make of it?


Richard:  It’s really exciting.  I got asked the other night whether I get bored watching the film.  Often I just stand in the wings off to the side and watch people’s faces for their reactions.  I never get tired because it’s such a privilege to be able to make a film in Australia.  I’m so lucky.  As long as people will have me, I’ll be doing screenings at people’s homes and in their lounge rooms… wherever they will take me.


It is a nervous time though because it is a privately invested film.  If people don’t go to the box-office and support it then the investors don’t make their money back.  If they do, then they’re likely to invest again and we’ll make another film.  We really hope people will go along and see it.


Matt:  One thing I haven’t spoken about yet is Project Greenlight Australia.  I didn’t realise when I first saw the film but this was the runner-up.  You almost won the competition which would have given you $1m to make the film but you missed out.  Do you think not winning was a good thing in hindsight?


Richard:  Project Greenlight was a screenwriting competition that Ben Affleck and Matt Damon started in the United States.  They brought it over here with Sam Worthington and Pia Miranda being the judges.  Out of 1,100 screenplays, Summer Coda was runner-up.  I was devastated at the time but in retrospect, it’s been amazing for us because the cast and team we have now wouldn’t have been possible back then.  The project wasn’t developed enough.


What it did do is give my career a boost because people had read the screenplay and getting it to producers and actors was a turning point.  It wouldn’t have been possible if I hadn’t entered the competition.


Matt:  I’ll guess I’ll finish by asking what’s next for Richard Gray?


Richard:  After I travel with Summer Coda around Australia, the film will go to New Zealand and around the world.  Then, we’re going to do a big romantic comedy called Good Vibrations.  I think romantic comedies are something we don't do very well in Australia but I don’t see any reason why we can’t make a fantastic romantic comedy because we’ve got such great actors in this country.


Matt's Favourite Directors: 2010 Edition


Last Friday, I was able to attend a media preview of The Social Network.  You can believe the hype.  It is one of the year’s best films.  It’s a shame it’s not out for another 2 weeks (October 28) but review is already up on my website if you want to check it out.


The quality that struck me most about the film was David Fincher’s direction.  It’s incredibly good and reconfirmed my believe that he’s one of the best directors in the business today.


It was two years ago when I last blogged about my favourite modern day directors.  The time has come to dust off and update the list.


I’ve gone through all my favourite films of the past 10 years and tried to match up the common directors.  I realise some of my favourites have made great films prior to the last decade (e.g. Woody Allen), but I’m trying to seek those who are “in form”.  Otherwise I’d be here all night trying to compare Stanley Kubrick with the Coen Brothers.


Here then is the list.  I’ve included the ranking which I gave them in 2008.  I’ve also listed their best film of the past decade along with a few others you must see (if you haven’t already).


10.  Jason Reitman  (not ranked last time)

My Favourite:  Juno (2007)

Other Great Works:  Up In The Air (2009), Thank You For Smoking (2005)


9.  Clint Eastwood  (last rank: 8)

My Favourite:  Million Dollar Baby (2004)

Other Great Works:  Changeling (2008), Flags Of Our Father (2006), Letters From Iwo Jima (2006), Mystic River (2003)


8.  Darren Aronofsky  (not ranked last time)

My Favourite:  Requiem For A Dream (2000)

Other Great Works:  The Wrestler (2008)


7.  David Fincher  (last rank: 6)

My Favourite:  Zodiac (2007)

Other Great Works:  The Social Network (2010)


6.  Sam Mendes  (last rank: 9)

My Favourite:  Revolutionary Road (2009)

Other Great Works:  Jarhead (2005), Road To Perdition (2002)


5.  Gus Van Sant  (last rank: 7)

My Favourite:  Elephant (2003)

Other Great Works:  Milk (2008), Paranoid Park (2007), Last Days (2005)


4.  Paul Thomas Anderson  (last rank: 2)

My Favourite:  There Will Be Blood (2007)

Other Great Works:  Punch Drunk Love (2002)


3.  Paul Greengrass  (last rank: 3)

My Favourite:  United 93  (2006)

Other Great Works:  Green Zone (2009), The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), The Bourne Supremacy (2004), Bloody Sunday (2002)


2.  Christopher Nolan  (last rank: 5)

My Favourite:  Inception (2010)

Other Great Works:  The Dark Knight (2008), The Prestige (2006), Batman Begins (2005), Insomnia (2002), Memento (2000)


1.  Coen Brothers  (last rank: 1)

My Favourite:  No Country For Old Men (2007)

Other Great Works:  A Serious Man (2009), Burn After Reading (2008), Intolerable Cruelty (2003), O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000)



Certificates of commendation go to Mike Leigh, Wes Anderson, Roman Polanski, Kevin Macdonald, and Alexander Payne.  I just couldn’t squeeze them in.


Italian Film Festival Kicks Off This Week In Brisbane


We’re only a month away from BIFF but there’s something to keep us occupied in the meantime.  This Wednesday, the Lavazza Italian Film Festival kicks off in Brisbane.  It runs for more than 2 weeks and there are more than 20 different films being shown.  It’s come at the right time too.  There are just 2 new releases in regular release this week.


I’m heading along to the Opening Night celebrations and hopefully the festival will be a great one.


The Palace Centro and Palace Barracks are hosting the festival again this year and you can find out more on the special website at  Tickets are $18 to most sessions (cheaper for concessions) and there are a few special events with drinks/entertainment included.


I’ve been perusing through the festival guide and to help wet your appetite, here’s a sampling of what’s on offer…


La Nostra Vita

Barracks - October 6, 14 & 23


Elio Germano plays Claudio, a construction worker living on the outskirts of Rome with a wife he adores, two small kids and a third on the way. When a tragedy befalls the family, Claudio leans on his boss to give him his own construction site to supervise. In exchange, Claudio will keep a secret Porcari is covering up.  La Nostra Vita screened in competition at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival where Elio Germano collected the coveted Best Actor award.


The Double Hour

Barracks - October 8 & 16


Sonia, a young woman from Eastern Europe, has recently moved to the northern industrial town of Turin. She wants to find a boyfriend so she signs up for a speed-dating service - facing the blunt and the sleazy - until she meets Guido, an ex-cop turned security guard who has been making the rounds of the singles' scene for a while. Against all odds, the two hit it off and a romance quickly develops.  Ksenia Rappoport's magnetic performance and sheer screen presence earned her the Best Actress award at the Venice Film Festival, and Filippo Timi (who won Best Actor) oozes macho sexuality.


The First Beautiful Thing

Barracks - October 7 & 16


In 1971, at a popular beach establishment near the Tuscan port of Livorno, yummy-mummy Anna is roped into a beauty contest which she easily wins. Her jealous husband, Mario, is enraged by the attention from assorted wolf-whistlers, while 8-year-old son Bruno is horrified by the spectacle of it all. His younger sister Valeria is the only one enjoying the scene. Jump to the present, when Bruno gets an urgent visit from Valeria telling him their mother is sick. Bruno tries to wriggle out of going back to Livorno but finally agrees, the trip triggering bittersweet memories.  This is Italy’s entry in the foreign language category of next year’s Academy Awards.


The Man Who Will Come

Barracks - October 13 & 21


Winner of the Best Film Award at the David Di Donotello (Italian Academy) Awards 2010 and Rome's Grand Jury Prize as well as the Audience Award, The Man Who Will Come is a powerful and engrossing drama based on the World War II tragedy known as the Marzabotto Massacre, which confirms director and co-writer Giorgio Diritti as a major filmmaker in contemporary Italian cinema.


Loose Cannons

Barracks - October 8 & 19


Tommaso has a comfortable life in Rome as an aspiring writer and is in a steady relationship with his boyfriend Marco — a life he has kept secret from his family. When he's called back to his hometown of Lecce in Southern Italy to help run the family business, he decides to reveal his homosexuality to his conservative family and hopefully get out of his business obligations in the process. But when his plans are thwarted, Tommaso gets stuck on the path that he was desperately trying to avoid.


The Front Line

Barracks - October 12 & 20


Set during a turbulent period in 1970-80s Italy, Sergio joins the radical political group Prima Linea where he meets and falls in love with fellow member, Susanna. Pursuing an uncompromising cause as members of this notorious Italian terrorist organization, second only to the Red Brigades in membership and influence, they have become increasingly alienated from the real world. Their luck finally runs out when Susanna is captured and thrown in jail. Putting his life on the line, Sergio embarks on a radical plan...


Happy Family

Barracks - October 9 & 17


Academy award-winning veteran director Gabriele Salvatores (Mediterraneo) delivers a colourful tongue-in-cheek comedy about a writer holed up in his apartment in Milan one hot summer trying to punch out a story while the characters come to life around him offering their input on the direction they think the story should take.


What More Do I Want?

Barracks - October 10 & 24


Anna is a woman in her early thirties who works as an accountant at a large insurance firm. She lives with her long-time boyfriend Alessio, a nice guy who thinks they should settle down and have a child. Anna, on the other hand, feels like the excitement has gone out of their relationship and when she meets Domenico in her office, it isn't long before their clandestine chemistry turns into a fully fledged affair even though Domenico confesses to having a wife and two kids at home. The illicit lovers meet once a week for a few hours in a cheap motel, but soon it's not enough for Anna, who becomes increasingly needy.