Posted by: Gregoryno6 | November 18, 2017

Five fantastic films from Rev 2017, Part 1.

The Revelation Film Festival, still here in its home town of Perth, has been running since 1997.

In other words, it’s been running at least five years longer than my parents’ marriage.

Founder, organiser, and original projectionist Richard Sowada got the ball rolling with a few odd movies in an unused corner of the basement at His Majesty’s Theatre. From there Rev has spread out across the city and around the world.

And sometimes I may ask myself:
“My God – what have I done?”

Sponsorship in the early years came from a magazine titled REVelation. The magazine folded many years ago, but its title has adhered to the event through a few changes and adjustments. The name has nothing in it that’s Biblical or apocalyptic. As Ava Gardner never said,  Perth might be the end of the world but it’s the perfect place for a film festival. And now REVonDemand offers you chance to catch what you missed. Many selections from past years can be found there to rent, buy, or view for free.

Rev has always been eclectic, and this year’s program was no exception.

Orange Sunshine combines present-day interviews with  recreated scenes to tell the story of The Brotherhood of Eternal Love. The BEL was a group of young Americans who not only lived the alternative lifestyle but manufactured and marketed it; their particular version of LSD, which gives the documentary its name, was exceptionally pure and therefore had fewer negative side effects. The Brotherhood made Laguna Beach a magnet for hippies; naturally the forces of law took an interest too, and among the recreations (skillfully doctored to resemble grainy 8mm home movies) there’s a moment where the makers are confronted by a police officer – and shove him into a swimming pool. Law-abiding citizen that I am, the copper’s dunking nevertheless made me chuckle.

Orange Sunshine completes an informal trilogy with Timothy Leary’s Dead and The Substance: Albert Hoffman’s LSD – which I compared here. The Sixties have been a recurring feature in Rev’s program with documentaries about The Doors, The Weather Underground, and Hunter S Thompson. And when you talk about the Sixties, inevitably, you talk about the Cold War.

Yugoslav Space Program: Myth Or Reality? Houston We Have A Problem is a documentary, except that it’s not factual. Not entirely factual. Director Žiga Virc has delivered a film that craftily blurs the line between truth and lie. Yugoslavia, so we’re told, had a space program. It didn’t go so well, but Yugoslav dictator Marshal Tito managed to flog it to Washington and NASA for a tasty $2.5 billion. America’s own attempts to break the bounds of gravity were failing over and over at the time, so it must have seemed a bargain. When they realised they’d bought a lemon they were furious. Still, America did put a man on the Moon by the end of the decade. Maybe Tito gave them a hand up after all.

That’s the bare bones of the tale. Putting it down here in black and white I wonder at my own credulity. How was I ever drawn to believe this absurd tale? During the film, though, I was less detached. It drew me in despite my skepticism. I was conned, but entertainingly so, and for only the price of a ticket.

Keith Maitland made his Revelation debut with Tower, a documentary about America’s first mass shooting.

Tower tells the story of Charles Whitman’s victims through their own words, presenting them as animated versions of their younger selves. The technique is a contrast to the invented footage used in Orange Sunshine; Tower calls to mind Richard Linklater’s A Scanner Darkly and Waking Life, but without their surreal elements. This was my first movie for 2017 and it was absolutely gut-wrenching. Maitland’s avatars detail the events of August 1 1966, the fear and the heroism, with remarkable impact.

Tower is available through Amazon Video and on disc.

Follow this link to part 2.

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