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Are you up for a bit of BIFF?

by Trevor Gensch

BIFF 2004 is about to begin! For 13 days Brisvegas film fans can relish the opportunity to never have to see daylight as they gorge themselves on films from around the world. I thought I would share with you some of the films that have piqued my interest in this years lineup...

This year the festival has shrunk a bit venue-wise - limiting itself to the four cinemas at the Hoyts Regent Cinema in the Queen Street Mall. This is because the State Library is undergoing renovation and is unavailable and the Hoyts Myer Centre is... well... who knows why the Hoyts Myer Centre isn't coming to the party.

The Regent is a grand venue to be sure, but it remains to be seen if the reduction in the number of screens hurts the festival at all. It gets very busy at the Regent, and with everything being crushed into there it is bound to be more hectic than previous years.

To their credit, the organisers of BIFF have still managed to pack in well over 200 films again this year, so there will still be plenty to choose from.

So what do Brisbane film-goers have to look forward to this year?

Life and Death of Peter Sellers - Its there opening night film so will cost a fortune to get in, but how can you pass up Rush, playing Sellers, with Charlize. What a film this is going to be.

The Praying Mantis - bizarre Belgium film about a woman with a praying mantis growing inside her and her conflict over whether to eat the man she has fallen in love with

Free Radicals - we watch the reactions of a group of residents from a small town in Austria, and the effect the death of a town inhabitant in a plane crash has on their individual lives. Not a documentary though.

That Day - serial killers, deranged women, mixed together in a way that only the French can (well, perhaps the Irish too)

Samaritan Girl - two Korean girls who hatch a scheme to raise enough money for a trip to Europe by prostitution. Of course, things go very, very wrong.

Who Killed Jessie - part of BIFFs retrospective this year on Czech Gothic films, the plot (such as it is) is about a technique called somnioreparation, via a device connected to the subject allowing images to be displayed of the subjects psyche. Yeah, I have no idea what that means either, but I am sure as hell gonna find out!

11 x 14 - part of BIFFs retrospective on the work of James Benning, 11 x 14 starts off as a standard three strand narrative but then shifts to Benning's signature style, the appreciation of sound and image in the form of mathematical structure.

La Captive - one of the films showcasing Proust adaptations for the big screen, La Captive is based on Proust's story The Prisoner.

In the Flames of Royal Love - another from the Czech retrospective, its programme description reads in part "emphasises the grotesque and bizarre side of surrealism". So, a feelgood film for the whole family then.

Tomorrow We Move - French comedy about a writer having problems with her new novel also having to deal with her troublesome mother, real estate agents and a poet. Comparisons to Misery need not be mentioned.

Prey for Rock n Roll - Gina Gershon stars in this fictional but engaging look at an all female rock band

Valerie and her Week of Wonders - Czech cinema again - this time looking at a gothic classic based on a classic surrealist novel.

I'm Not Scared - Italian story about a boy and a hole, it looks at sibling relationships, family bitterness and secrets. And holes.

Shouf, Shouf, Habibi - Arabian aspiring film star (awaiting the roles sure to flood in post-9/11) marks time working in an office.

Goodbye, Dragon Inn - taking place within a run down village cinema, this Chinese comedy is sure to be a festival highlight.

Buena Vida Delivery - Argentinian film about two lovers whose relationship is subject to a series of bizarre circumstances

Los Angeles Plays Itself - A sprawling, eclectic look at Los Angeles and the part it ha played in the iconic movies of the 20th Century.

16 Years of Alcohol - grim tale set in grimy Glasgow about a man's descent into hell courtesy of the bottle. Looks like another cheerful two hours similar to last years laughfest "This Filthy Earth". Can hardly wait.

The Fifth Horseman is Fear - another in the Czech retro with a Jewish Doctor searching for medicine in war-torn Prague.

The Pied Piper - yep, its another Czech, with a typically grim look at the classic fairy tale

25 Degrees in Winter - French offering firmly rooted in slapstick as we follow a hapless Miguel trying to delivery some travel documents to an important client

Bright Leaves - unconventional documentary from Ross McElwee ranging from his family tree to the underhand business tactics in the 1950s tabacco industry

James Benning: Circling the Image - the work of this unique filmmaker is the subject of a retrospective at this years BIFF, and this documentary is a great introduction to those interested in seeing the films on offer

Los - A James Benning film, in his unique mathematical structure, Los is 35 shots of 2.5 minutes in length, together with ambient sound and arresting visuals.

No Rest for the Brave - surrealist French film about a nosy journalist who searches for a young man is apparently the victim of a massacre in his village, but there is more to this young boy than first meets the eye

The Five Obstructions - Lars von Trier has long admired a short film by Jorgen Leth, called The Perfect Human. And what better way to show his devotion by setting Jorgen a dare to remake his film in five unique and challenging ways?

Intimate Strangers - Lawyer lives a lie when he continues to convince a beautiful young woman that he is in fact a psychologist, revealing to him her deepest secrets

Head-On - suicidal man finds love and a reason for living in the arms of fellow psychiatric patient

Somersault - the first feature from famed shorts director Cate Shortland, Somersault is a beguiling and tender story of personal transformation and courage.

The Damned House of Hajn - goodness me I am seeing a lot of Czech film this year! Hajn is about a businessman with a bizarre family and plenty of skeletons in the closet

So Close to Home - 50 minute feature about a daughter reluctantly returning home to see her mother

Kitchen Stories - quirky story of a group of observers conducting research on the kitchen routines of single men.

Tom White - Colin Friels plays Tom, bored with his current life who runs away from home to experience more about "life"

A Good Lawyers Wife - A film about adultery, passion and domestic dishonesty.

Bukowski: Born into This - documentary on the life of American counterculture writer Charles Bukowski.

Metallica: Some Kind of Monster - a documentary about Metallica (funnily enough) which is a warts and all look at the controversy that has dogged this band

Before Sunset - following on front the events in Before Sunrise, it is billed as the first independent sequel.

So a lot to look forward to at this years BIFF to be sure. Check out their website for details on bookings, newsletters and all the info you will need to be the envy of your cinephile buddies.

That's if you actually remember their names after seeing all these films of course!

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originally posted: 07/21/04 10:59:16
last updated: 11/04/04 11:29:30
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