MADHU ERAVANKARA

The Brisbane International Film Festival 2006 featured a cross section of world cinema.

The 15th edition of Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF-2006) included several segments such as Australian Cinema, Asia-Pacific cinema with special emphasis on Philippines and Hong Kong, World Cinema, Unveiling Islam, Double Crossing, Tokyo by Night, Beyond the Rocks, James Claydon retrospective, Kihachiro Kawamoto and Experimental Films. BIFF-2006 was a great event in terms of excellent selection of films and participation by film enthusiasts from different parts of the world.The festival opened with `A Prairie Home Companion' (U.S.), the fictional behind-the-screen account of a long running American radio programme directed by veteran director Robert Altman. The concluding film was Ken Loach's Palm d'or winner, `The Wind that Shakes the Barley,' set in the Irish rebellion of the 1920's.

Australian cinema

The resurgence in the Australian film industry was evident in the showcasing of several major features, including low-budget digital films. Undoubtedly `The Book of Revelation' (Ana Kokkinos) tops the list with its bold attempt to depict the life of an egoist dancer. Based on the award winning novel by Nick Earls `48 Shades' was the directorial debut of Daniel Lapaine. `Like Minds' by Gregory J. Read was more serious, philosophical and poignant. `The Actress,' `Burke and Wills,' `Em 4 Jay', and `Emulsion' were the low-budget films shot in beta cam, which were inventive, compelling, dramatic and innovative in themes and treatment. Asia-Pacific cinema was well represented in terms of quality and trends.

`Personal films'

`Personal films,' where the filmmaker explores his own life, has become a trend in East Asian cinema, especially in Japan and China. The best example was Liu Jiayin's debut `Oxhide' (China) comprising 23 fixed angle shots of herself and her parents in their 50 square-metre home in Beijing. Liu takes the film language of `realism' to an entirely new dimension. Kobayashi Masahiro's `Bashing,' Vimukti Jayasundara's `Forsaken Land,' Jeon Soo Il's `Time Between Dog and Wolf,' Brillante Mendoza's `The Masseur' and Yao Hung I's ` Reflections' were some of the films in this section that provided a stunning cinematic experience.The entries in World cinema proved to be a cross section of contemporary cinema. The `Aura' (Argentina), `Breakfast on Pluto' (Ireland/U.K.), `The Cave of the Yellow Dog' (Mongolia/Germany ), `Men at Work' ( Iran), `A Perfect Couple' (France/Japan), `The Secret Life of Words' (Spain), `Transylvania' (France ) and `Conversation on a Sunday Afternoon' ( South Africa) were some of the not-to-be missed films. The eclectic selection of some remarkable documentaries of the world added charm to the festival. `An Inconvenient Truth' (USA) and `Workingman's Death' (Austria/Germany) were incisive examples of political activism through the medium of films.Retrospectives are the highlights of any International Festivals. BIFF-2006 had three major segments: `Unveiling Islam,' `Double Crossing' and the Australian filmmaker James Claydon's retrospective. With 18 films from Iran and Turkey, `Unveiling Islam' examined their cinema and especially the depiction of women in cinema and the projection of women directors in the two predominantly Islamic countries. ` `Double Crossing-French and American Film Noir' explored the hazy boundaries by tracing the cross pollination among German exile, French poetic realism and Hollywood mainstream in creating the genre.The Festival hosts three international juries namely FIPRESCI, NETPAC and Interfaith. In BIFF-2006, the FIPRESCI prize was given to ` The Cave of the Yellow Dog' (Byambasuren Davaa, Mongolia/Germany), NETPAC Award to `The Blood Rain' (Kim Dae-seung, South Korea) and the Interfaith award to `The Masseur' (Brillante Medoza, Philippines ).