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Sydney Film Festival - Day 14: The Closing Night Film

by Michael Collins

The closing night film summed up what this festival was all about: Excellence in cinema that had something to say while still being accessible and engaging.

The festival prefaced the film with a few speeches and award presentations. The presentations were surprisingly informal and laid back. In contrast with the feel of the rest of the festival, award winners turned up in jeans and mumbled their way through acceptance speeches. It felt rather odd.

To the main event of the evening however, with the screening of Thank You for Smoking.

Nick, a lobbyist for the tobacco industry, faces up to the challenges of defending the indefensible. Heís a master spin-doctor though and through and can easily turn an audience to somehow support his point of view.

His abilities are tested though when his son takes an interest is his job just when a anti-smoking campaigner Senator has Nick in his sights.

This film certainly had a strong message, but it didnít belt you over the head telling it. It was more an encouragement for you to think about what was going on. It was about more than just the tobacco industry. Itís about lobbying, and spin doctoring of any kind.

Itís well acted with Eckhart doing well in the lead and Macy excelling as we all know and even expect of him.

The film is written with wit and humour and there are some great periphery characters. You know I worry a little how closely some of those characters resemble real life.

This was a very accessible film that could have solid commercial success. It was one of many films in fact that the festival featured with this type of audience engagement. Artistic Director, Lynden Barber, clearly wanted to attract a closer to the mainstream audience for the festival.

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originally posted: 06/27/06 20:16:57
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