Saturday, August 22, 2015

#Venezia72 Check No. 6 - The Female Directors

There are only two female directors in Venezia 72 competition, Sue Brooks from Australia and Laurie Anderson from USA.  I'm not familiar with them so this exercise will help to meet them.

Sue Brooks

Born on May 1st, 1953 in Pyramid Hill, Victoria, Australia. She worked in a medical company before deciding to study film and television. The Drover's Wife from 1984 was her first short film followed by 1985 documentary High Heels, and short film 1988 An Ordinary Woman. His debut feature film, 1997 Road to Nhill, won the Golden Alexander at Thessaloniki fest plus more local and international accolades.

After some TV work, her second feature-film 2003 Japanese Story opened in Cannes Un Certain Regard and went to collect many honors in the fest circuit and in local awards like, for example, eight AFI awards, Best Actress in a Leading Role to Toni Collette plus Best Film, Best Director and more. In 2009 her third feature film, Subdivision, was a comedy/drama with mainly local release.

Looking for Grace is her fourth feature film that will open in competition at Venice and Aussie media has been calling her "the first female director in 15 years to represent Australia in Venice" (last one was,Clara Law in 2000). Film was developed under the title Driving Back From Dubbo and most interesting is that film was withdrawn from Melbourne fest when was selected for Venice -had to do it to comply with Venice requisites.

Relevant is to mention that film will have its North American premiere at Toronto fest in the Platform section, which is the first competitive section of the festival; consequently film has achieve a great milestone by being in competition in the oldest fest in the world and the largest fest in North America. Great.

Have to admit that I'm not much familiar with this director as besides the Cannes film, never heard about her work until today. Then have two situations with film, first story/plot somehow reminds me of Nicole Kidman's return to Australian cinema with Strangerland, and second, the cast is not exactly one that calls my attention. To be honest, if film would have not been collecting the amazing honors it has, then would have totally skip my radar. But yes, after this exercise, recalling Toni Collette film, and what film promises, it has become must be seen for me with moderate expectations.

Many are pointing-out Odessa Young  as the newcomer to follow and will obey (lol) as I like what I read and she is in two of the most talked 2015 Australian films, Simon Stone's The Daughter (will close 2015 Venice Days) and this one.

Basic info about Looking for Grace
Director: Sue Brooks
Writer: Sue Brooks
Language: English
Runtime: 100 mins
Production Country: Australia
Production Companies: Unicorn Films, Taylor Media, Gecko Films
Distribution: Palace Films, Fortissimo Films (International Sales)

Cast: Radha Mitchell, Richard Roxburg, Odessa Young

Plot Summary
It tells the story of Grace, 16, who runs away from home. Her parents, Dan and Denise, head off on the road across the Western Australian wheatbelt with a retired detective, Norris, to try and get her back. But life unravels faster than they can put it back together. Grace, Dan and Denise learn that life is confusing and arbitrary, but wonderful. Looking for Grace is about how we make sense of the mess of our lives and what it all means. It is a wry drama about lies, secrets, small and large grief and love.

Laurie Anderson

Born in June 5, 1947 in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, USA. No surprise that I was not familiar with filmmaker Anderson as from all she has done, she's best known as a performance artist from the late 1960's and a recording artist from the early 1980's when her single O Superman made it to No.2 in British pop charts.

IMDb lists 18 credits as a Soundtrack writer and/or performer, plus 16 credits as Composer, 6 credits as writer, 4 credits as music department and more; and yes, she has 6 credits as a director, the first from 1974, Dearreader: How to Turn a Book Into a Movie co-directed with Bob George. Then there is a 1986 music documentary, Home of the Brave: A Film by Laurie Anderson, a 1987 TV Movie What You Mean We? a music video Laurie Anderson: Collected Videos, and a music short film Hidden Inside Mountains. From what I read her work seems more about music than anything else and her films tend to be experimental more than from any other genre.

To my surprise have to admit that have seen her installations live (at late Guggenheim SoHo) ... but gee, probably made not big impression on me as absolutely forgot about it, until today. We arrive to 2015 with Anderson directing a documentary, Heart of a Dog, which -surprise- is in competition for a Golden Lion in Venice.

It's her full-length film directorial debut; film was commissioned by the Franco-German TV network Arte (!!!) and was supposed to be about philosophy of life -until she told them that she didn't have one! According to her, film touches on loss, a subject she knows well, having lost her beloved dog, as well as her mother, and her husband, rocker Lou Reed.

She had, have and will have many activities during 1995, one cinema-related is designing the poster of the 2015 New York Film Festival. Film will be also screened at 2015 Toronto fest in the Docs section and will be the Canada premiere as film will be screened before in NYC.

Believe that film is too experimental for my taste so I'm not sure if I'm interested in watching but will check critics' and viewers first reactions to see if could change my mind.

Basic info about Heart of a Dog
Director: Laurie Anderson
Screenplay: Laurie Anderson
Language: English
Runtime: 75 mins
Production Countries: USA
Production Companies: Canal Street Communications, Field Office Films
Distribution: Celluloid Dreams (International Sales), Cinetic Media (US Sales Agent)

Plot Summary
Heart of a Dog is a personal essay film that explores themes of love death and language. The director’s voice is a constant presence as stories of her dog Lolabelle, her mother, childhood fantasies, political and philosophical theories unfurl in a seamless song like stream.
The visual language spans animation, eight millimeter films from the artist’s childhood, layered imagery and high speed text animation. The director’s signature music runs throughout the film in works for solo violin, quartets, songs, and ambient electronics.
The center of Heart of a Dog is a visual and poetic meditation on the bardo. As described in The Tibetan Book of the Dead, the bardo is the forty nine day period after death in which identity is shredded and the consciousness prepares to enter another life form.
Personal stories are intercut with stories about the information culture that feature the NSA, Iron Mountain, the creation of false documents and personal accounts and theories that trace the process and history of data collection.

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