Wildflowers glimpsed from a commuter train

MELBOURNE INTERNATIONAL FILM FESTIVAL 2016

Films 32 through 39
At a glance

Traversing the margins with Laurie Anderson, Yo-Yo Ma, and Werner Herzog as my guides, my eyes have been opened a-new to what can be found sprouting in verges and industrial embankments. Whether well-wrapped in the Forum or assuming the near-to horizontal pose in the front row of the Comedy, I have been willingly ushered through the landscape of different ways of viewing a known or unfamiliar subject. Vision-impaired Lolabelle experimental music and Kierkegaard (Heart of a Dog)! (As Anderson, in her cine-meditation on death, imparted "do not be afraid," it was soothing; and I mentally made plans to purchase a keyboard for Lottie.) A dishwasher in love with a fridge! Please, yes, please (Lo and Behold: Reveries of the Connected World). And whilst the cinema is a shared experience, and I delighted in feeling that others around me were also enjoying the flickering images as they unfolded and came into focus, I felt that they were speaking, whispering, playing, directly to me.

And so, with this way of seeing in mind, my highlights so far, listed in order seen:
RESET
MY LIFE AS A COURGETTE
KEDI
SIERANEVADA
LOST AND BEAUTIFUL (Au hasard Sarchiapone!)
THE HAPPIEST DAY IN THE LIFE OF OLLI MÄKI
HEART OF A DOG
A DRAGON ARRIVES!
LO AND BEHOLD, REVERIES OF THE CONNECTED WORLD

Followed closely by (again, in order seen):
INNOCENCE OF MEMORIES
PATHS OF THE SOUL
THE SALESMAN
DON'T BLINK: ROBERT FRANK
THE MUSIC OF STRANGERS, YO-YO MA AND THE SILK ROAD ENSEMBLE

Highlights, all of them, really, in the sense that they remain in the foreground of my thoughts. From the glorious sounds that roared in A Dragon Arrives! (Iran in the '60s whether by doe-eyed camel a-nuzzling or orange Chevrolet never looked, never sounded, so good) to the heartstrings plucked by the Silk Road Ensemble, I am looking forward to seeing what the remainder of the week has planned for me. As things stand, Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake is now also visually tethered to footage of the Soviet Union on the brink of collapse (The Event), and Sound of the Mountain is a sunflower-rinse. I have lost my footing as I scrambled up the Atlas Mountains (Mimosas), but discovered that faith in the landscape survives regardless, and I am reminded of the urban wilderness of Richard Mabey:
 

“If the ability of wildlife to survive literally on our doorsteps is remarkable, its persistence in the face of this ceaseless change is amazing. It is also, I find, amazingly cheering. For it is a bleak view to see this story as nothing more than one of survival, with Nature irrevocably opposed to Man, forever just holding on. Looked at more hopefully it is a story of co-existence, of how it is possible for the natural world to live alongside man, even amongst the grimiest eyesores.” (Richard Mabey, The Unofficial Countryside, Dorset: Little Toller Books, 2010, p. 21)


Highlights, to me, because they felt true and direct. Because of what I thought as I drank them in, and what has remained and since found lodgings within. Because there was space to both expand (thought) and forget (the self). Because there was no short-changed Pandora as plot pawn (Things to Come). Because they were David Foster Wallace's fictions about what it is to be a human being. Because they made sense and nonsense. Because of goosebumps on forearms.

Play on. After all, "the dog's playing was... pretty good."

 

Image credit: Still from Laurie Anderson's film, Heart of a Dog (2015)