Saturday, August 13, 2016

MIFF- Emo The Musical, Kiki and The Lovers And The Despot

It's the final weekend of MIFF and the last of my films for this year's festival. Last night I started my evening at The Forum to see the world premiere of director Neil Triffett's Australian musical comedy Emo The Musical. Most of the cast and crew were in attendance to watch this film, which originated from Triffett's 2014 Berlinale award-winning short film. It starred Benson Jack Anthony as Ethan, an emo boy who starts at a new high school after getting expelled from his old one. Navigating the different tribes at the school he soon found a group of fellow emos and joined their band Worst Day Ever. Their rivals at school were a Christian worship group, who decided to compete in the same local band competition. Ethan falls for one of their members, Trinity (Jordan Hare) and they try to keep their budding romance a secret. The film is a bit like Glee as the students break into song, with my favorite bit being when Trinity realised that "Jesus was an emo." It was an entertaining film with the ultimate message of being true to yourself. After the screening Lawrence Leung hosted a Q&A with Triffett and his producer. They are hoping to get the movie picked up for distribution more broadly.

Next I saw Sara Jordeno's documentary Kiki about today's New York City ballroom scene. Featuring LGBTQI youth of color, the kiki scene is more organised and socially active than its earlier counterparts captured in the landmark documentary Paris Is Burning. Set to a soundtrack by Qween Beats, the film followed the heads and members of a few different houses as they competed in ballroom and provided a support network for each other. It was a fantastic look at this often marginalised community with some really insightful commentary, political discussion, as well as amazing dance sequences and costumes from the ballroom competitions.

Today I headed to the Comedy Theatre for my final film of MIFF, the documentary The Lovers And The Despot by Ross Adam and Robert Cannan. It tells the true story of South Korean filmmaker Shin Sang-ok and his ex-wife, actress Choi Eun-hee, who were kidnapped in the late 1970s by Kim Jong-il's agents to help bolster North Korea's film industry. While under captivity they gained Kim Jong-il's trust and had the freedom and financing to make whatever films they wanted. As they met the goal of getting North Korean films into international film festivals, it provided Sang-ok and Eun-hee the opportunity they needed to ultimately make their escape. It's a bizarre tale and unfortunately doesn't really cover the aftermath or reaction in North Korea to their defection back to the West.

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