Brisbane’s annual celebration of the silver screen has timeshifted from August to November with a feast of genres plus conversations and workshops.
A Film Editor for All Seasons
Roger Crittenden (British Film School) conversed with Australian editor, Jill Bilcock, known for her work with Baz Luhrmann, P.J. Hogan and Fred Schepisi.
Roger said: “The way we relate to history is bunk – and nowhere more true than in cinema.” We hear more about stars and producers than the contributions of other creatives including those in post-production. Roger paid tribute to early film-makers and editors – women, such as Margaret Booth, Adrienne Fazan and Dede Allen.
Jill’s approach to film-editing is to look for the emotive core of the film with reference to the director’s intent. Actor’s performances may need to be lifted or managed by artful use of their colleagues’ performances. Actors can peak too early – given that films are not shot in sequence. To achieve a good edit, the reactions of audience and director are essential keys.
The most memorable quote on her editing of a Luhrmann film: “Romeo + Juliet looked like a Russian serial killer on crack.” R+J showcased a new style and “the audience must feel safe to watch it”, she said.
Her extended opening sequence introduced us to the rhythms of Shakespeare through language and the pace of visual edits, and, the modern timeshift with Capulet, Montague, ‘sword’ and ‘longsword’ inscribed on buildings and guns respectively.
Her signature elements are a strong beginning and end, she said.
Ai Wei Wei’s vision to explore “What is a fairytale?” by taking 1001 Chinese to Kassel, the birthplace of the Brothers Grimm, in 2007 was inspired. However, the 2.5 hour documentary does not do justice to this vision.
Ai Wei Wei and his ‘tourists’ do not arrive in Kassel until the final hour of the film. The extent of their interactions with the German town and its residents is limited to a few shots of the tourists absorbing European art or seeking a secondhand market, plus, Ai Wei Wei talking to media about his large art installation, particularly when ruined by rain.
The final vox pops with Kassel’s residents show a wide variation in understanding of modern Chinese living conditions and culture, and, the philosophical statements on art and culture come from the Chinese tourists.
The First Fagin
Screening for one week (and not a part of the film festival), Veronica Furey’s documentary tells the tale of Ikey Solomon – believed to be the inspiration for Fagin in Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist. Narrated by (who else?) Miriam Margolyes, it’s a well-paced tale of a family man who chooses to provide for his family by pick-pocketing.
After a stint in jail, Solomon next runs a business fencing stolen goods – on a scale not seen before in Britain. When he escapes the law en route to prison, his wife Ann is framed for theft and transported to Van Diemen’s Land.
In Furey’s production, Ikey Solomon will pick your pockets for sympathy: “I did everything for love, to provide for my wife and family.” Screening at two cinemas until Wednesday, November 22.