On Screen Revelations

On the eve of Revelation Perth International Film Festival, we speak to curator Jack Sargeant about what audiences can expect...

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Revelation, Perth's quirky International Film Festival, is set to open with a hair-raising bang at the iconic Astor Theatre on July 8. Chris Rock's enlightening documentary Good Hair (pictured) will launch the event which will run at venues across Perth until July 18. The film explores the black hair industry in the US, and the screening will be followed by an all-night soiree to the unique beats of DJ Jay Katz of the Sounds of Seduction.

Since its inception in 1990, Revelation has become one of Australia's fastest growing film festivals and typically collates a line-up of alternative and independent projects which question the cinematic structures seen in mainstream theatres. In his third year as the Festival's curator, Jack Sargeant reminisces of the days when unusual and challenging films like the ones shown at Revelation were easily accessible in all cinema complexes.

"Audiences now have less opportunity to experience a wider cinema culture," Sargeant says. "For most people there's no opportunity to watch double-bills at the grindhouse or midnight movie sessions or even retrospective seasons beyond the established and familiar names. One of the things I hope to do with my curating at Rev is to create those spaces again."

When asked what qualities he looks for when selecting films for Revelation, Sargeant explains that he doesn't seek any one set of attributes: "I want to feel inspired or sense the filmmaker's inspiration." In today's era of multi-million dollar studio projects and celebrity casts dominating the box office, Sargeant says, "People confuse spectacle and big budgets and stars with good cinema. When the dust settles, what counts is passionate filmmaking."

This year's festival will showcase a diverse array of thought-provoking local and international films. When pushed for his opinion on which films stands out from the field, Sargeant, not keen to single out one from the group, admits that Irish director Conor Horgan's One Hundred Mornings "is going to be recognised as a really important movie." He also recommends Cory McAbee's genre-defying (it's touted as a ‘science fiction musical') Stingray Sam as "a great fun film everyone will enjoy."

For those interested in local work, Christopher Kenworthy's psychological thriller The Sculptor has already proved extremely alluring with its first screening sold out and a further one added to the program. Other Australian films to be presented include Sean Byrne's horror flick The Loved Ones, controversial documentary Stolen, and speed-dating comedy A Day at the Oasis.

Revelation's idiosyncratic nature also draws impressive industry guests who pass on their knowledge of cinema through a series of workshops and Q&As. 2010's most prominent speakers include San Francisco writer, Jim Morton (who edited a book titled Incredibly Strange Films) and director Jon Reiss (Bomb It!) who will lead a distribution and marketing workshop titled Thinking Outside the Box.

Sargeant believes these guests are one of the ways Revelation differentiates itself from other festivals. "Jon Reiss comes from the underground/indie circuit and he has pursued his visions as a filmmaker and now he's able to impart his knowledge to younger filmmakers, it's a great process," Sargeant says. "These are people who are really important to film, even if you haven't heard of them before."

Revelation Film festival runs from July 8-18. For the full line-up of films, visit the festival website.

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