Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Portobello Film Festival Awards

Portobello Film Festival programmes; photo by Val PhoenixElectric Cinema
21 August 2007

Back in Blighty, I just caught the end of the festival, with its awards ceremony in the oh-so-plush Electric Cinema on Portobello Road.

As it started late, I had to leave early and so missed the presentations but prior to that, the shortlist was screened.

Top of the list was the very clever and well-made The Last thing To Go Through A Fly's Mind (dir Steve Webb), which won for best film. This was a surrealist comedy touching on reincarnation and karma. No, really. I could see the payoff coming a mile away, unlike the fly. Bah-dum-sum.

Green Pages won for best director (Sasha C Danjanovski). I had seen this film and found it incredibly tedious on preview but it played better in a quiet cinema. I still think it's overlong, but I can see why it won this award: directing a one-shot film dependent entirely on the actors' performances (the screenplay is directory entries) is certainly a big ask. Not my cup of tea, though.

Winner for best foreign film was The Dreams Of Lost Time (dir Faysal Saysal), which I found incomprehensible. It seemed to be a meditation on death and motherhood set in Iran, but the English subtitles were comically bad and obviously not accurate. A pity as it was beautifully shot.

Je Suis Jean, the winner for best art film, is a Marmite film (dir Christine Pinheiro/Andre Scucat), a tres arte black and white surrealist (that word again) take on Monsieur Cocteau. Lovely images. The point?

Salt And Vinegar (dir Mark Jackson), which I saw at Raindance last year, won for best animation. A punk rock musical about chips and rebellion.

Kourtrajme won for best cinematography, an interesting choice as this group has filmed the Paris riots and the footage shown, all hand-held camcorder shots of milling men throwing stones at the police, was set to Queen's "Don't Stop Me Now" ("I'm having such a good time") in what I imagine was meant to be a light-hearted two fingers up to the authorities. However, in my eyes, all it did was trivialise a highly charged and serious issue, remove from it any context and present it as a macho past-time. The message left: rioting is fun. A bit more thought could have gone into that, methinks.

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