BAFF announces Best Feature Film contenders

Press release from Bigpond Adelaide Film Festival

The 2011 BigPond Adelaide Film Festival is delighted to announce the twelve feature films invited into competition for the 10 EVENING NEWS INTERNATIONAL AWARD for BEST FEATURE FILM. The winning director will be presented with a cash prize of $25,000, thanks to the generous support of 10 Evening News. Established in 2007, BAFF’s International Award was the first of its kind in Australia. To be eligible, films must have been completed by 1 January 2010.

Films competing for the 2011 award are FOUR TIMES (Italy, dir: Michelangelo Frammartino); HERE I AM (Australia, dir: Beck Cole); TUESDAY AFTER CHRISTMAS (Romania, dir: Radu Muntean); INCENDIES (Canada,dir:: Denis Villeneuve); MEEK’S CUTOFF (USA, dir: Kelly Reichardt); MYSTERIES OF LISBON (Portugal, dir: Raoul Ruiz); NOSTALGIA FOR THE LIGHT (Chile, dir: Patricio Guzman); OCTOBER (Peru, dir: Daniel Vega Vidal and Diego Vega Vidal); PIANO IN A FACTORY (China, dir: Zhang Meng); SHUT UP LITTLE MAN! AN AUDIO MISADVENTURE (Australia, dir: Matt Bate); WHISPER WITH THE WIND (Iraq, dir: Shahram Alidi); and YEAR WITHOUT A SUMMER (Malaysia, dir: Tan Chui Mui).

The twelve films include seven Australian Premieres and one World Premiere.

‘Each of these films engage the viewer in distinctive and transformative ways – pushing our understanding, challenging our assumptions and engaging us with new ways of seeing. We are thrilled with this year’s 10 Evening News Competition line up – it’s a thoroughly entertaining and diverse range of films from all over the world – and a big task for our jury to select the strongest of a very strong bunch’, says Festival Director, Katrina Sedgwick.

Presiding over the 2011 jury will be JULIETTA SICHEL, producer and former director of programming for the Karlovy Vary Film Festival. Sichel will head a panel comprising of PIERRE RISSIENT, one of the most legendary programmers from the Cannes Film Festival; HOSSEIN VALAMANESH, Iranian/Australian contemporary artist: TREVOR GROTH, Program Director for the Sundance Film Festival and Robin Gutch, producer and Joint Managing Director of Warp X

In making their deliberation, the jury will be looking for a distinctive voice, bold storytelling, and creative risk-taking, but more than anything, a film that genuinely engages and transports the viewer. JULIETTA SICHEL will announce the winning film on the final night of the festival, Sunday 6 March, before the screening of the Closing Night film.

The Four Times Fri 25 Feb @ 4.30pm – Palace 1, Sun 6 March @ 9pm – Palace 7


DIRECTOR: Michaelangelo Frammartino

AWARDS Best European Film, Cannes; Fipresci Prize, Motovun

FESTIVALS Cannes, Karlovy Vary, Sarajevo

A film bursting with visual wit, inventiveness—and goats!

From rural Calabria comes a sublime pleasure, and a unique viewing pleasure. This wordless delight troubles the distinction between documentary and fiction in its playful exploration of Pythagoras’s belief that each of us has four distinct lives. Within this scheme, the soul passes through four stages of purification: from human to animal to vegetable to mineral. Hence we begin with an elderly goatherd and follow his path to baby goat, to tall tree in the forest, and finally to charcoal. This is a celebration of the surprising ways that everything in nature is connected. The long take that combines a religious procession, a herd of runaway goats, and a sheepdog that has to make sense of the whole thing, combines the intricacy and simplicity that only great art can pull off.

'A beautifully evocative, humorous and subtle look at life and nature in deepest rural Italy. Never didactic or sentimental, the director takes creative risks and manages to pull them off." (Europa Cinemas Jury)

Here I Am (World Premiere) Sat 26 Feb @ 7pm – Piccadilly 1, Mon 28 Feb @ 5.15pm – Palace 1



The hardest person to forgive is yourself.

Karen is a beautiful young woman with a dark past. Fresh out of prison, she finds herself on the streets with a burning desire to turn her life around but no one to call for help. Eventually she finds a haven at a shelter for Aboriginal women like herself. With the support of her new community of friends Karen begins the painful journey of reconnecting with her estranged mother and her young daughter, and she is soon propelled to face the most difficult truths of her life. Along with the creative team behind Samson & Delilah (including producer Kath Shelper and cinematographer Warwick Thornton) director Beck Cole (The First Australians) has marked out a place as one of our most important young filmmakers. Set and shot in and around Port Adelaide, her debut feature marks a new point of departure, a moving story of the strength and resilience of Aboriginal women.

Incendies (Australian Premiere) Thur 3 March @ 9pm – Palace 1, Sun 6 March @ 9.45pm – Palace 7


DIRECTOR: Denis Villeneuve

FESTIVALS Telluride, Toronto, Sundance

A voyage to the core of deep-rooted hatred, never-ending wars and enduring love.

At the reading of their mother’s will, two twins are given letters which will profoundly change the direction of their lives. They are set the task of returning to the Middle East to track down a father and brother they have never known. This quest into the past is intertwined with the parallel story of their mother’s journey through the war-ravaged landscape of the 1970s in search of the child she had been forced to give up. Villeneuve has adapted a prize-winning play by Wajdi Mouawad, jettisoning most of the dialogue to concentrate on a steadily building visual intensity. Incendies emerged from the Telluride Film Festival as the sleeper that everyone was talking about. Variety called it “an emotional firecracker” and the Toronto Film Festival labelled it “a film of heart-wrenching tragedy, mythic proportions, and sweeping visual majesty.”

Meek's Cut Off (Australian Premiere) Sat 26 Feb @ 12.15pm – Palace 6, Wed 2 March @ 9.30pm – Palace 1

USA : 2010 : 104MINS

DIRECTOR: Kelly Reichardt

FESTIVALS Venice, Toronto, New York

“A quiet, beautiful and terrifying fable.” (

The Village Voice called this is “a visually stunning mood piece, deliberately paced and extraordinarily textured.” They also called it one of the best American indie films of the year. Kelly Reichardt (Wendy and Lucy) has always been a distinctive and unfashionable director. So we should not be surprised that she has chosen to make this beautiful, pared down western as her new film. A group of settlers split off from the wagon train on the Oregon Trail. Their trail guide claims to know a shortcut across the high desert plains, but before long the settlers—particularly their wives—realise that they are been misled. As things move to a point of desperation, they encounter a Native American who might just be their last chance of salvation.

Mysteries of Lisbon (Australian Premiere) Sun 27 Feb and Sat 5 March @ 12pm – Palace 1


DIRECTOR: Raoul Ruiz

AWARDS Silver Shell, San Sebastián; Louis Delluc Prize

FESTIVALS Toronto, San Sebastián, Vancouver

“Four and a half hours of pure pleasure” (Cinema Scope)

Raoul Ruiz is one of the great fabulists, on a par with Italo Calvino for his fascination with the intoxicating potential of narrative. In what might be his culminating masterpiece, Ruiz has adapted a classic Portuguese novel by Camilo Castelo Branco. João, a ward of the enigmatic Father Dinis, tries to find out the story of his parentage. This unleashes a narrative torrent of star-crossed lovers, aristocratic intrigue, and Napoleonic romance. This is absolutely immersive experience. Once you fall under its sway, you may find its 272 minute running time too short! Variety put it best: “The director’s command of his opulent mise-en-scène keeps the viewer glued to the screen. Accessible and engaging, Mysteries of Lisbon benefits immeasurably from its impeccable production values, which immerse the audience in a ravishing aristocratic milieu.”

Nostalgia for the Light Sat 26 Feb @ 2pm – Palace 1, Wed 2 March @ 7.15pm – Palace 7


DIRECTOR: Patricio Guzmán

FESTIVALS Cannes, Melbourne, Toronto

There are many ways of finding connection to the past.

Patricio Guzmán’s remarkable documentary begins from a desire to recover a lost past, a sense of Chile in the period before Pinochet. He approaches this through two groups both of whom are similarly searching for clues to understanding the past. The dry atmosphere of the Atacama Desert (scene of the recent Chilean mining drama) makes this an ideal place for astronomers who look back across immense stretches of time with their telescopes. The second group are archaeologists whose interest in the past is all too immediate by comparison. They join relatives searching for the burial sites of those disappeared by the military during the junta period. Guzmán’s film is indignant yet fiercely intelligent, movingly beautiful yet unyielding in the understated way it countenances the horrors of Chile’s recent history.

October (Australian Premiere) Fri 25 Feb @ 1.15pm: Palace 6, Mon 28 Feb @ 1pm: Palace 1, Fri 4 March @ 7.15pm: Palace 6


DIRECTOR: Daniel Vega, Diego Vega

FESTIVALS Cannes, Karlovy Vary, Toronto

A lifetime of being selfish, and one month to learn how to love.

October is the month of Lima’s patron saint, Our Lord of Miracles. Everyone feels lucky, but miracles come in all shapes and sizes. You might win the lottery, or you might just get what you need. Clemente is the neighbourhood moneylender who gets lumbered with a baby and a counterfeit bill. He does his best to get both off his hands, but that’s more easily said than done. His neighbour Sofia steps into the breach and takes the solitary miser and the baby in hand. The Vega brothers (Latin America’s answer to the Coens?) have made a film as drily humorous as it is visually witty. From the first shot you can sense an acute eye for composition and editing to underscore what is the strangest, though perhaps the most satisfying, romantic comedy you’ll see for a long time.

The Piano in a Factory Mon 28 Feb @ 3.45pm and Sat 5 March @ 9.15pm – Palace 6


DIRECTOR: Zhang Meng

FESTIVALS Toronto, Tokyo, Dubai

Building a new future – one piano at a time.

The transition to a market economy has caused a lot of pain in China as rustbelt factories close. An accordionist and his estranged wife are divorcing and fighting over the affections of their daughter, who announces pragmatically that she will side with the one who can provide her with a piano. After trying to beg, borrow and steal an instrument, he puts together a ragtag group of underemployed friends to build one from scratch. Called on their unwanted skills and using the magnificently ramshackle setting of a disused steelworks, they set out to rediscover their faith in work, craftsmanship—and each other. Zhang Meng emerges as a brilliant stylist, composing striking angular images and driving the action along with an unlikely accompaniment of rollicking Russian pop music.

Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure (Australian Premiere) Fri 4 March @ 7pm – Piccadilly 1, Sun 6 March @ 9.15pm – Palace 1


DIRECTOR: Matthew Bate


A darkly hilarious modern fable.

The most important recording of the grunge era wasn't made by some alt.rock star. It was covert tapes of two drunken men abusing each other. In 1987 Eddie and Mitch (two kids from the midwest), moved next door to a flamboyant gay man and his raging homophobe flatmate. This ultimate odd-couple hated each other with wild abandon, and through the paper-thin walls their rants terrorised Eddie and Mitch. Fearing for their lives, they began to tape evidence of the insane goings on next door. In the process, they created one of the first viral pop sensations. Their tapes inspired a cult following, spawning hit CDs, comic artworks by Dan Clowes (Ghostworld), stage-plays, music from the likes of Devo, and a Hollywood feeding frenzy. Eddie and Mitch were ingested into the belly and fired out the orifice of the pop culture beast. In the first feature from the SAFC’s FilmLab initiative, Matt Bate (What the Future Sounded Like, Mystery of Flying Kicks) explores the blurring boundaries between privacy, art and exploitation.

Tuesday, After Christmas  Fri 4 March @ 2.45pm, Sat 5 March @ 7pm – Palace 6


DIRECTOR: Radu Muntean

FESTIVALS Cannes, Rio de Janeiro, New York

“Impossibly long takes, remarkably disciplined acting” (J. Hoberman, Village Voice).

After its emergence in the last decade, Romanian cinema has now consolidated its place as one of Europe’s finest national cinemas. Radu Muntean employs a sustained but unobtrusive long take style for this dramatically involving story of a marriage in which things look fine on the surface, even as they fall apart. Paul seems like he has it all: wife, daughter, career—and mistress. His affair with daughter’s dentist, Raluca, will have an explosive impact on all of this. Muntean uses the long take to bring out complex relationships in a single uninterrupted space, but mainly, he uses it to allow his actors to build scenes and sustain tension. The scene where Paul finally confronts his wife is an astonishing tour de force of acting. Sometimes the most impressive mastery of technique is the ability to be simple.

Whisper with the Wind (Australian Premiere) Fri 25 Feb @ 1pm – Palace 7, Thur 3 March @ 7.30pm – Palace 6


DIRECTOR: Shahram Alidi

AWARDS Young Critics Award, Cannes

FESTIVALS Cannes, Tokyo, Göteborg

Sometimes horror gives rise to great and impassioned art.

During the 1980s Saddam’s regime undertook a campaign of genocide against the Kurdish people in Iraq. 182,000 were gassed or buried alive and many women were imprisoned in labour camps and brothels. Shahram Alidi’s breathtaking film begins by invoking the figure of a mother prostrate on her son’s grave. By dawn the cemetery is alive with the fragrance of mother’s milk. This is only the first of a myriad of highly poetic and unfailingly inventive ways in which Alidi gestures towards the despair and hope inherent in recent Kurdish history. Mam Baldar, a grizzled old survivor, travels the mountains with a beat-up cassette recorder relaying messages and recording traces of whole communities that have been wiped away. His final triumph, the triumph of art, is to give proof of the indomitable will of a people to survive.

Year Without A Summer (Australian Premiere) Tue 1 March @ 7.30pm, Thur 3 March @ 3pm – Palace 7


DIRECTOR: Tan Chui Mui

FESTIVALS Pusan, Tokyo Filmex, CineManila

A tale of magic and the moon.

A dark figure walks out of a gloriously beautiful sea. The film hovers in a state of magical indecision about whether he is a creature from the sea, or if there is more mundane explanation. It turns out that he is Azam, returned to his village in search of childhood friend Ali. Together with Ali’s wife Minah, they will spend a night under a luminous full moon telling stories of mermaids and tigermen, of water spirits and villagers turned into crabs—and all the other tall stories that make seas and jungles such vibrant places of the imagination. Tan Chui Mui is a key figure in the new Malaysian cinema and she has made an elegiac tribute to a way of life larger than any modern metropolis. Those interested in the new Canon cameras that shoot video will be thrilled to see the glowing images produced by moonlight.

Ticketing and full session details: