Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Volume 33, No. 6 6 May 1970
Film Festival Preview
Film Festival Preview
A scene from Confrontation (1968), Jancso's first film in colour. Set in Hungary in 1947, it deals with an encounter between a group of Communist students, the boys of a church school, and authority in assorted forms. One of the major films to be shown at the Adelaide/Auckland International Film Festival in July.
Michael Heath previews the Adelaide/Auckland International Film Festival.
Last year in Salient I wasted much space in a personal prediction list of what our first International Film Festival (In conjunction with Adelaide) to be held in Auckland in September, would behold. I must have made it plain in the end what did happen, and consequently gave forth a double-page spree of what happened which very nearly left me sightless, among other things.
I'm getting in early then for this year because, I thankfully sigh, pressure by certain young groups have made this year's offering three months earlier (July, then) with far more variance, an extra day, and what has been entered in at this fairly early stage, an event no serious filmgoer can afford to miss. So, I recommend now to those of you who feel starved, and utterly revolted with the commercial junk which is floating around to make preparations now, if necessary for a feast of a lifetime and it bloody well is!
Sydney is June is having 28 feature films, so I suppose we won't be far off, plus multitudes of 16mm entries from all over the world.
The highlights of last year's festival were Walerian Borowczyk's Goto, L'lsle d'amour, and Robert Bresson's Au Hasard Balthazar. Mr Eric Williams, director of the Adelaide side of the business, was in contact with Bresson last year and has apparently secured prints of perhaps his most moving film Mouchette (1966) and Proces de Jeanne D'Arc (1962). Bresson is probably one of the few directors who commands respect from virtually all critics. I urge those of you seriously interested to acquire Studio Vista's book on Bresson, reviews by Durgnat, Bazin, Barr and so on—a wonderfully welcome guide to his films, despite the omission of Une Femme Douce (his latest work in colour). Many people who saw his Pickpocket here two years ago will never forget it, and it somehow makes the rest of the Festival offerings pallid in comparison, but some will say that this is only a derangedly aesthetic mind playing on emotional catholysis!
Last year New Zealand saw a film by one of the greatest directors in the world today, Miklos Jancso. His The Red And The White, together with his other films, have met with undeniably eloquent praise, and it is quite difficult to describe his films without either going emotionally overboard or giving up. I had a hell of a job reviewing the said film last year, but this year, merciful drogans, we will be able to see Jancso's latest (but one, Winter Sirocco) The Confrontation. Allow me a few words then to tell you about this extraordinary film, Jancso's first in colour. It has been described as his most difficult film to date, where Western Audiences are concerned. "It is perplexing partly because Jancso's search for an aesthetic means to signify political engagement among the rising generation has prompted him to use songs and rhythmical movement in an unfamiliar context; and partly because, despite its modern look, Confrontation really evokes the events of 1947 in Hungary when students in the newly-established 'people's colleges' were vigorously debating the social progress that lay before them. It is important to be aware of this because chants about the proletariate and embittered disputes with Catholic seminarists no longer have the controversial charge that they did twenty years ago," says Peter Cowie in this year's International Film Guide.
And here to whet one's appetite further is a bewildered Penelope Houston commenting on its first showing at Cannes last year, "The film's movement is a ceaseless and complex pattern of dancing, circling, and prowling, though at his press conference Jancso characteristically ducked any suggestion that it had a symbolic purpose. 'I know,' he said, when one woman complained that the incessant to-and-fro made her seasick. 'I'm sorry if you don't like it, but it seems to be the only way I make films.' The way he has made this one apparently baffled a lot of people, who seem thrown by its directness and eager for inscrutability. But Confrontation is exactly what it purports to be: a look at the faces of socialism by a man who, of course, remains a convinced socialist; and who, one ought perhaps to add, was at work on this film before May 1968".
Apart from these mentioned, the highlight for the majority will be of course the Fellini—Satyricon, if a deal is made with United Artists who, believe it or not are distributing it . . . somewhere. I'm sorry I really do not know for certain if this will come about; it'd made a packet if they did, and of course nearly freak everyone out in the bargain from what I've read.
Briefly then, the rest of the films so far entered. From Netherlands, Monsieur Hawarden, directed by Harry Kumel, is a 19th century period piece concerning a masculinely inclined woman (much lauded and well received in Sydney last year), Bruno ou les enfants du dimanche (Bruno Sunday's child, from Belgium) director Louis Grospierre, George Kaczender's Don't let the Angels fall, Mort Ransen's Christopher's Movie Matinee, Mateusza's Days of Matthew, Heskiya's The Eight from Bulgaria, from Japan The Day the Sun Rose. Jacques Morry Katmor's A Woman's Case from Israel: I am absolutely devoid of material on all of these at the moment.
From France (the non-commercial) a highly refined film of zany madness—Jessua's La Vie L'Envers (Life Upside Down). Also the more commercial and probably highly sexy, Deray's La Piscine (basically The Swimming Pool) with Delon, Trintignant, and Schneider.
Last year's Stereo, from Canadian David Cronenberg was appreciated, partly, for its unusual sexualities and psychological attempt at defining an almost surrealistic clinical cinema, and his latest work. Crimes of the Future, promises to be even more so.
There's Palle Kjaerulff-Schmidt's Once there was a War(Portrait of a Boy) a growing-up type film that has been praised for its charmingly intimate childhood scenes, in the war years in Denmark.
Under negotiation is Orson Welles' Falstaff (Chimes at Midnight) an amazing film that I saw in Australia two years ago. Every scene is almost firmly imprinted in my brain still. Also Winner of Grand Prix at Cannes '68 and Silver Medal at Moscow is Bert Haanstra's beautiful The Voice of The Water.
Final judging does not occur until June, after the Sydney and Melbourne Festivals. Already the Sydney Festival has announced that Costa-Gavras' Z will open it, and Eric Rohmer's Ma Nuits chez Maud, Louis Malle's documentary Calcutta, and a very recent film by Diourka Medweczy, Paul, with Jean-Pierre Leaud, have been selected. Let us hope that at least one of these will get final say here, and maybe at least one Czechoslovakian film, if available, after last year's amazing Menzel and Nemec.
Now, at this stage, if you are interested I would advise you to write to: Executive-Director, Adelaide/Auckland International Film Festival, Box 1411, Auckland. A small reduction for very cheap seats was made last year, if one subscribes by paying. I think it was two dollars, and worked out at about 30 cents a seat for a week, so that is a considerable saving. All the Festival films are shown four times daily at the Regent, which is a very good etc. . . if you are one of those prone to close sitting. The dates of the Festival are Friday 17 July to Thursday 30 July inclusive.