Jack Sargeant Reveals

June 23, 2022
The programmer of the Revelation Perth International Film Festival tells us about his approach to putting together one of this country’s best film culture events.

This is the festival’s 25th anniversary, have you got anything special in store to celebrate?

At Revelation we don’t really tread water, so every year we try and introduce new, special things. This year, we’re expanding to screenings at the museum, an exhibition of Shaun Gladwell’s work at PICA, and a screening at the DADAA Theatre, as well as the usual screenings at the Luna, SX, and Backlot. So, there’s no singular special event, so much as our usual desire to continue to try new ideas, and expand into unfamiliar territory in terms of curation, presentation, and audience expectations.

Can you discuss your philosophy in programming?

At Revelation, we’re a team and everyone brings their own agendas to the festival, as well as sharing and developing a collective vision. But for me, programming should always be pushing new ideas and exploring possibilities. I ask myself: what films reflect and challenge the state of play, what possible ways are there to get people to engage with new works and to take risks in what they see? It’s important to get work by emerging filmmakers on the screen and work that people won’t get to see at the cinema anywhere else. I remain committed to independent, underground film and experimental cinema, to the unusual aspects of film, to the concept of both the auteur and the amateur. I’m not sure if this is a philosophy per se, but it’s an attitude and an approach that I I embrace.

Why do you think a festival like Revelation can thrive in Perth, as opposed to the other capital cities of Australia?

Richard [Sowada, founder] and I sometimes argue, but basically, we tend to appreciate quite similar things, he knows what I tend to like and vice versa; this has helped the festival grow and develop but remain focused. Simultaneously, the Perth community normally embraces the films we show, the various ideas we try, I feel that they support and encourage us too. I think, with Perth being so remote, it has enabled the festival to gestate and grow in its own way.

Give us your top 3 film recommendations.

There’s too much to choose three, but here is a selection of things I like: in terms of what people may consider European arthouse cinema we have Peter Strickland’s Flux Gourmet, Dean Kavanaugh’s A Hole in the Head, and Peter Brunner’s Luzifer. I think Dan Mirvish’s 18 1/2 and Christina Kallas’s Paris is In Harlem are great examples of contemporary American indie cinema. In terms of Australian film, we have Lonesome directed by Craig Boreham, The Lonely Spirits Variety Hour directed by Platon Theodoris and Matthew Pastor’s A Pencil to the Jugular all showcase the strength of film being produced here. Then there’s documentaries; I’m glad we have movies like Ryan A White and Alex Clausen’s Raw! Uncut! Video!, Oscar Harding’s A Life on the Farm, and the King Crimson documentary In the Court of the Crimson King. Can I mention the work coming from WA? The short films? The experimental? Let’s just say there are some exciting films in the program.

Just anecdotally, it seems like there’s a disproportionate amount of film bloggers, film sites and independent filmmakers. Do you think that Revelation has something to do with that? If so, how?

I mean, I like to think we encourage and nurture talent. But you’re asking if it’s “disproportionate” but – god – on a personal level I’d prefer a 1000 independent films to one more mediocre mainstream movie. As to the bloggers and film sites, I feel the rise of so many listicles and re-written press releases is frustrating, but there are many new voices emerging who make perceptive comments, who search out and explore cinema. I like seeing a young writer engaging with whatever interests them, so where it is published isn’t so much an issue as to how it reads and what they are saying. Is Revelation responsible for that? I don’t know, I hope we give people an opportunity to engage with visual culture – but what they do with that is up to them.

WA is getting a belated Covid wave, do you have any concerns/plans to address that?

I think you have to be concerned and have plans, but that’s the world we live in now. It’s a hard thing to come to terms with but we are never going back to 2019.

How important is Luna Leederville in the Revelation story?

I mean, on one hand it’s obviously an ongoing business relationship, but it transcends that in some respects. I think they understand Revelation and what we do. Richard has a long relationship with them on many levels.

For me, personally, walking into the Luna, sitting in the cinema, coffee in one hand, and a program in the other, feeling the excitement in the air, it feels like home.

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival is on July 7 – 17, 2022


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