Opening with Thomas Vinterberg’s submarine drama Kursk, starring Colin Firth, Lea Seydoux, Max Von Sydow and Matthias Schoenaerts, and closing with your choice of existential zombie flick Zoo and S. Craig Zahler’s morally ambiguous Dragged Across Concrete starring Mel Gibson and Vince Vaughn, the 2019 iteration of the Revelation Film Festival aims to shock and awe in equal measure, screening feature and short films from around the world, and some of the weirdest and most wonderful new documentaries around.
Browsing through this year’s selection, some of the must-sees include Black 47, starring Stephen Rea, Jim Broadbent, and Australia’s own Hugo Weaving and James Frecheville in a story about family set during the Great Famine. This Irish/Luxembourg co-production points to a large number of Irish films playing this year, including Extra Ordinary, starring Will Forte, and Maeve Higgins as a driving instructor with supernatural abilities; Metal Heart from actor turned director Hugh O’Conor, about the rivalry between fraternal twin sisters; and documentaries A Dog Called Money, about PJ Harvey searching for inspiration for her new album, and Unquiet Graves about the murderous Glennane Gang during the troubles. Appropriately, Dr Enda Murray, founder and director of the Irish Australian Film Festival will be a guest of the festival.
Other guests of the festival include Australian filmmaker Lucy Coleman, whose indie Hot Mess, starring fellow festival guest, comedian Sarah Gaul, will make its Western Australian premiere at Revelation. Similarly, producer/writer Angus Watts and director Heath Davis (who was there last year with Book Week) will unveil Broken Hill shot neo western Locusts. Donna McRae and Michael Vale, who attended Revelation with their feminist ghost story Lost Gully Road, return with the documentary COBBY: The Other Side of Cute.
Other notable selections this year include Chained for Life, a sweet film within a film about the lives of actors on the set of a b-grade horror film, and particularly the relationship between the beautiful leading lady and her co-star, Rosenthal (Adam Pearson, who is also a guest of the fest) who suffers from a condition causing extreme facial disfigurement. The Wind is a revision western focusing on the women of the 1800s frontier; Happy New Year, Colin Burstead is the latest from British dynamo Ben Wheatley; Leto is a love letter to punk rock in 1980s Russia; Sheeple is a drama about drug dealers who help the people from the always cinematically reliable Iran; Monos is a beautifully shot and acted loose adaptation of Lord of the Flies; and Letters to Paul Morrissey is a self-explained love letter to the Warhol favourite filmmaker.
Retrospective screenings include the 1990 Bjork starring Icelandic curio The Juniper Tree and a collection of sci-fi classics, The Quiet Earth, Things To Come, The Andromeda Strain and Alien.
The latter is a perfect segue to the vast selection of documentaries on offer, with Sundance hit MEMORY: The Origins of Alien, Alexandre O. Phillipe’s exploration of the recurring nightmares that were born from Ridley Scott’s 1979 classic, playing at the fest. Along a similar vibe, a sub one hour documentary, Extra-Terrestrial Ecologies (Retroflectors: The Astronaut, The Robot, The Alien) sees an Austrian filmmaker exploring science after watching ET, Silent Running and The Martin. Other film related documentaries include Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orson Welles, Love Express: The Disappearance of Walerian Borowczyk, Peter Bogdanovich’s love letter The Great Buster [Keaton], Scott Christopherson’s portrait of prolific b-grade filmmaker Stephen Groo and his quest to cast Jack Black in his next movie, and Elizabeth Sankey’s love/hate montage of iconic rom-com scenes to a soundtrack of cultural commentators speaking to the genre’s appeal, Romantic Comedy.
Music themed documentaries have always been a highlight of Revelation, and this year is no exception. Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool, David Crosby: Remember My Name, Carmine Street Guitars, Gay Chorus Deep South, Rudeboy: The Story of Trojan Records, the aforementioned A Dog Called Money, and Perth made Maybe It’s Luck, are certain to delight, educated and get your toes tapping. Documentaries about cultural icons include Framing John DeLorean, Werner Herzog’s Meeting Gorbachev, The Man Who Stole Banksy, XY Chelsea, Halston and the heartbreakingly gripping Under the Wire about journalist Marie Colvin and photographer Paul Conroy in war-ravaged Syria.
And there’s no shortage of films about society’s outliers such as Stuffed about modern taxidermy, the Mexican Midnight Family, about a family who run a for-profit ambulance service, and Hail Satan? about contemporary Satanists.
Curated by Jack Sargeant, there really is something for everyone at Revelation, including climate docos (Anthropocene: The Human Epoch), anime (Children of the Sea) and Dev Patel (Michael Winterbottom’s The Wedding Guest).
In line with their stimulating programming, Revelation isn’t just about watching films, with the Industrial Revelations strand engaging with the festival guests and locals to discuss industry trends and challenges; Revelation Academic spotlighting film and cultural scholars delivering papers exploring film and visual arts; Blind Date, which showcases music videos by local filmmakers and Get Your Shorts On! screening films by emerging WA talent.
And for the first time this year, Revelation introduces XR:WA, which offers 9 days of specialised programming of new and emerging spaces in the art of the moving image.
“With the addition of XR:WA to the film program, we have the opportunity to bring VR, AR and games to local audiences in a way that is unique to Australia in a festival context,” said Festival Director and founder Richard Sowada.
“It is a truly innovative program structured around ideas of possibility and opportunity”.