In this short blog series, get to know some of your friendly AFI staff members through their eclectic picks from this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival. In Parts 1, 2, 3 & 4, Lia McCrae-Moore, Simon Elchlepp, Tany Tribuzio and Jane Carracher shared their MIFF 2011 highlights so far. Here’s the fourth installment.
Chloe Boulton recently stepped into the role of Awards Manager at the AFI after nearly four years as Festival Director of the Little Big Shots International Film Festival for Kids. Knowing how much hard work goes into putting on a film festival, she regularly tries to attend and support many of Melbourne’s different film fests, and looks forward to MIFF each year
“My approach to MIFF is to focus on the documentaries, as most of the features I’m keen to see end up getting a cinema release after the festival.
My favourite film from this year’s festival was Being Elmo – a relentlessly positive look at Kevin Clash, the puppeteer behind the red furry phenomenon that is Elmo. Kevin grew up in a down-and-out neighbourhood in Baltimore and started making his own puppets at the age of 8. In the screening I attended, the audience emitted a collective gasp of disbelief when Kevin turned down the first job offered to him by Jim Henson – a gig on The Dark Crystal – but it wasn’t long before he landed a regular spot on Sesame Street. This film was a pure celebration of a kid who followed his dreams and a piece of red fur that brings joy to millions, the world over. Though it kind of glossed over the fact that Kevin spent so long on the road with Elmo that his marriage broke down and he missed a lot of his daughter’s early years, by the end it won me over with its sheer joy and charming puppets.
Also winners in my book were The Hollywood Complex, a fascinating though often cringe-worthy look at the kids and families that head to Hollywood for ‘pilot season’ in the hope of landing their big break, and Client 9 – The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, a smart and sassy film about the undoing New York’s hard-hitting Attorney General, then Governor, known as the ‘Sheriff of Wall Street’. Client 9 is directed by the Oscar® winning Alex Gibney (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room).
Of the features I did see, The Guard stood out as a wildly politically incorrect, laugh-out-loud cop flick that hit all the right genre notes. I fell in love with Paw Paw, the cat who narrated Miranda July’s The Future, though thought the film was patchy overall. Norwegian Wood, while beautiful to look at, crawled along at an agonisingly slow pace for most of its 2+ hour running time. Perhaps most disappointingly, the extremely gruesome Outrage, by Japanese director Takeshi Kitano, lacked the beautiful light-and-shade of his much earlier film Hana-Bi, which I still clearly remember falling in love with at MIFF in 1998.”
Stay tuned for more AFI staff picks from MIFF 2011.