Lex Lindsay launches the 17th annual Canberra International Film Festival at Dendy. Photo: Katherine Griffiths
If there’s one thing Lex Lindsay has noticed about Canberra, it’s that we love to talk about stuff.
And so, the director of the 2013 Canberra International Film Festival decided to make spirited discussion of this year’s suite of offerings even easier – by arranging them into “talking points”.
I really have put this together with specifically the Canberra audience in mind ... So fingers crossed I got it right.
“They’re kind of discursive, thematic, conceptual categories, and under each of them there are six films that reflect or address that topic in different ways,” he said.
Tom Hiddleston and Tilda Swinton in the new movie Only Lovers Left Alive.
“So there’ll be a comedy, there’ll be a documentary, there’ll be drama, that all kind of look at that theme from a different perspective. And then there’s one conversation as well. So we initiate the conversation by presenting a number of films under that topic and then have a conversation on that topic at the end.”
Speaking to The Canberra Times before the festival program’s official launch on Wednesday, he said the program was a kind of homage to some of the city’s unique character that was being celebrated as part of the Centenary.
“In the Centenary year, when we’ve been talking a lot about Canberra establishing its identity and its purpose and the way that it belongs to the city itself but also to the nation, we’ve had lots of discussions about Canberra being a city of thinkers and a place of discussion and where, in many ways, the most important conversations that we have in the country take place in Canberra,” he said.
“I was really wanting to respond to that conversation with the film festival program and to show a festival that is put together in such a way that really represents that unique flavour of Canberra and that experience of being in Canberra, as I am learning the more time that I’m spending here. You palpably feel the national conversation, on the street and when you’re eating at a restaurant or in a bar or wherever you might be, you do actually really kind of engage with these bigger ideas and topics.”
He was particularly excited about the festival’s opening film this year – JC Chandor’s All Is Lost, which stars Robert Redford as a solo yachtsman battling the elements as he crosses the Indian Ocean.
“It’s really like nothing I’ve ever seen before, it’s absolutely thrilling. And very poetic and beautiful in the way that it ends up playing out as a story of survival and determination,” he said.
And the festival will also have, for the first time, a “centrepiece screening”, a mid-festival gala that Lindsay hoped would “reinvigorate energy” for the festival’s second half.
He said Jim Jarmusch’s Only Lovers Left Alive, starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston as Adam and Eve - and vampires - was a “cool, hip and chic contemplative take on immortality”.
Mr Lindsay said there as well as Freaky Fridays at Arc cinema, with a horror double bill for each showing, and several standout comedies, including “the most successful Croatian film of all time”, The Priest’s Children, there was also a record number of documentaries in this year’s program.
Among them is the Lebanese film, A World Not Ours, and the Australian premiere of Our Nixon, a documentary featuring found archival footage from the Nixon era in White House.
Mr Lindsay said he hoped there would be something among the festival’s 63 films for everyone.
“I’ve always said I’m a curator for the people,” he said.
“I’m much more interested in the audience experience, the story that the audience goes through throughout the process of the festival…I really have put this together with specifically the Canberra audience in mind, I have pored over previous box office results, I’ve gone through all the audience voting from the last couple of years to see the films that came out on top in those choices, and just thought okay, how do I create a program that I feel Canberra is really, really hungry for? So fingers crossed I got it right.”
The Canberra International Film Festival runs at Dendy and Arc Cinemas from Wednesday October 30 to Sunday November 10. Festival programs will be available at both venues.