The Melbourne International Film Festival kicks off in just over a week and by the looks of things the ten session mini-pass that I intend to buy will be entirely used up with movies, docos and collections of experimental shorts celebrating indie/punk-icons, institutions and eras.
The Backbeat program alone has served up three documentaries of assured excellence. I Need that Record! pays homage to the honest-to-goodness role independent records stores across the world have played in nurturing alternative and experimental music and their revered place within these communities. With the inescapable rise of download culture having a plague-like effect on these institutions, this is as good a time as any to watch such DIY icons as Mike Watt, Ian MacKaye and Thurston Moore wax lyrical on these vital but possibly doomed cultural hubs. All Tomorrow’s Parties brings together footage shot by patrons to the hollowed festival at its various locations. With the still raw news that ATP will not be coming back to Oz for some time (see previous post), this documentary should go some way to mollifying our nerdy disappointment. Lastly, former Pop Group chief and all-round DIY-Dude, Mark Stewart is profiled in On/Off. Looking forward to that one a lot.
Arguably even more exciting is the Australian Post-Punk program. These ‘Post-Punk Mixtapes’ compile rare live footage and experimental films clips featuring such luminaries as Nick Cave (obviously) and the Primitive Calculators from a time when seemingly it was kicking off everywhere, from Manchester to Melbourne. There are five in all but if you can only make one I would recommended #5 if only for the insanity of The Birthday Party live footage. I’m pretty sure this is the same footage from the Nick Cave retrospective at The Arts Centre last year and is worth the price of the ticket alone. As an added bonus though, there is an early John Hillcoat short in there too, cool!
Lastly, Blank City documents the Cinema of Transgression from the Lower East Side in late ‘70s/early ‘80s (I told you it was all kicking-off then!) Closely tied with the no-wave music scene, such icons of independent film as John Waters and Jim Jarmusch cut their teeth with this DIY film-making style and appear in this documentary alongside anti-icons like James Chance, Steve Buscemi and Lydia Lunch.
Of course there are also loads of cool movies playing but this is a music blog and this post has taken me an hour to write so you check the rest of the program out for yourself here – www.melbournefilmfestival.com.au.