Jack Sargeant: Rallying the Troops at Revelation Film Festival

July 4, 2018
With Perth's Revelation Film Festival opening tomorrow, we checked in with Program Director Jack Sargeant to find out what surprises are in store this year.

What’s the tone of this year’s program? It’s eclectic of course, but are there any themes that stand out?

Themes kind of emerge organically throughout the programming process. There was no point when I thought ‘this would be a great theme’, but there are obviously trends in cinema and sometimes those are more clearly pronounced. This year Richard (Sowada, Festival Director) and I were talking and it just became clear that it’s a very strong year for fashion documentaries and music documentaries. But simultaneously there’s no environmental documentaries, although a few years ago there were a lot more environmental documentaries but very few fashion ones. There’s also a trend this year for very strong coming of age films –  both Skate Kitchen and Madeline’s Madeline are films about young women and both engage the genre in new ways.

What’s the thinking behind the Hal Ashby retrospective?

I was aware of the documentary film Hal, and I thought, we need to screen this. Then you start to think, well, has anyone seen these movies in a cinema in recent years? If we are showing a documentary about this director we should make sure people have some kind of context. I would have loved to do that with every documentary movie we screen of course. It would be great to show a string of banned films with Sickies Making Films and [Censored]… but, you know, there’s only so much screen time. It’s something of an experiment.

Rev’s home base at Luna recently expanded their facilities and increased their number of screens. How has that affected the festival?

It means we can do the retrospective of Hal Ashby, it means we can screen more movies. Also, the extra screen enables us to try out new ideas. For example, we have a multi-director and producer discussion on music documentaries. And trying out new ideas is really the seductive pleasure of programming. I am always thinking ‘what can we do next?’

This year Rev is really expanding into live music, an area that has always been a part of the Fest but not to this extent. Give us the lowdown on the Rev Music Days.

I think we’ve always had some music components; the last few years we have had Lee Ranaldo from Sonic Youth playing a live soundtrack to Leah Singer’s video works, we had Goblin performing to Suspiria, and so on. It seems natural to expand these things, as well as look at what else we can do.

I don’t think Revelation’s audience simply want rock, I mean, I can’t second guess the music tastes of the whole audience, but I think the interest we had for Goblin or Lee wasn’t because of a specific music genre but because there’s some kind of sense of a broader Revelation aesthetic, of trying new things, of seeing new things, hearing new things.  This year, I was very anxious to get Alexander Hacke and Danielle de Picciotto, and the fact they have these silent film works alongside their music is perfect. Of course, their background crosses all musical genres from experimental music to dance music to rock music. Richard and I discussed Amyl and the Sniffers and Rackett, but they were originally suggested by Richard. We go back and forth a lot on discussing things, which gives the feeling of Revelation but it’s always a process that is under negotiation.

What are your must see films this year?

I mean, there’s so much there, but for me, films like Desolation Center define something really important, which is that inspirational DIY aesthetic. I hope people see that and get inspired. I really like Holiday, which is not easy viewing, but a truly excellent gangster movie, it has none of the macho ‘glamour’ of classic mainstream crime movies, it paints a powerful, dark portrait.

In a totally different mode, I love the Shirley Collins documentary, which is very good. I mean, her story is central to the history of folk music, but also I think it’s an important story about a woman having her voice, losing it, then finding it again. It’s beautifully made, her music is great, it’s a special film.

I’m pretty excited about the film Parallel Planes which is an essay film, at least of sorts, which features a lot of very exciting musicians, drawn from numerous bands and scenes, but all of whom share a belief in pushing music in new and interesting ways. The experimental feature Titan is good, but for completely different reasons. I like the indie comedy The Unicorn about a couple trying to have a threesome. The Irish Australian Film Festival sidebar is really strong.

Anything else to add?

I want people to see unfamiliar movies, to get glimpses of strange, new, and possible worlds, whether described in fictional films or in documentary works. I feel that there’s a need for other cinemas and the stories that they tell, stories that are less common and less familiar, but always offer something.

Revelation Film Festival is on from July 5 – 18, 2018 at venues across Perth and Fremantle. For info and tickets, hit up the official site

 

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