Every year I count myself extremely lucky to preview the films coming to the Perth Festival. This year another fascinating crop of films will feature at the spectacular UWA Somerville Auditorium. With 18 to pick from, it can be hard to decide, so here are six to start off with, plus a review of the unmissable COPA97, make sure you see this one.
When discussing the lineup for this year, Perth Festival Film Programmer Tom Vincent says: ‘It’s been a delight to see Somerville’s audience grow and change over the years … with this program I’ve aimed to find a “sweet spot” that charts a course between the known and the unknown, the future and the past, the calm and the crazed. And my survey of this year’s new films has found international filmmaking to be in dynamic and engaging shape.’
First up a review of the film COPA 71. Question: Which international female sporting event holds the record for the largest audience?
If you said the Matilda’s recent game, you’d be wrong. It was actually 50 years ago during the 1971 Women’s Soccer World Cup. Haven’t heard of it? That’s because it’s been written OUT of sporting history until now, that’s right OUT of history. There’s an unbelievable reason for that which I won’t spoil for you. Suffice to say the film will totally change your perception of women’s sports and FIFA.
The film features archival footage that hasn’t been seen for 50 years, plus interviews with the pioneering women who participated in the tournament. It’s enlightening to hear what these warrior women went through, especially when many of them now look like your average scone-baking grandma. It’s a reminder to never assume you know someone’s past. Rating 8/10.
Five other films on my list to check out are: [Note: I haven’t seen them yet but will post about them on my Facebook/Insta if I do].
- EO. Nominated as one of the most acclaimed films of the year, this Oscar-nominated film features EO, a grey donkey who once liberated from the traveling circus, treks across the Polish and Italian countryside. Along the way he experiences cruelty and kindness in equal measure, all the while observing the follies and triumphs of humankind. The trailer looks wonderful. I’ll be the person sitting in the back, tissues in hand. Apologies in advance if I ignore you on the way out.
- Robot Dreams. The description of this film makes me think it would be a perfect second course after EO. Set in an animated alternate-reality 1980s New York City, lonely but enterprising Dog decides to build himself a companion via mail order. In no time Dog and his new pal Robot become inseparable, strolling around Manhattan and rollerblading in Central Park. One day, an unforeseen incident sees Robot rusted and abandoned in the sand. Will the pair find their way back to each other? Delightfully light, joyous and dialogue-free it is hand-drawn and rich with colour and detail. One for all my cartoonist friends for sure.
- Radical. Based on a true story this film is said to have echoes of To Sir With Love and Dead Poets Society. It also won the Sundance Film Festival, Festival Favourite. That alone is enough to make me want to see it. Set in a Mexican border town plagued by neglect, corruption and violence, a frustrated teacher tries a radical new method to break through his students’ apathy and unlock their curiosity and potential – and maybe even their genius.
- The Taste Of Things. Who doesn’t love a film featuring mouthwatering food? One that’s been dubbed a feast for the senses. Set in the late 19th century, we meet Eugenie, an esteemed cook, who has been working for over the last 20 years for Dodin, a wealthy connoisseur of the finer things in life. As they grow fonder of one another their bond turns into a romance, giving rise to delicious dishes that impress even the world’s most illustrious chefs. When Dodin is faced with Eugenie’s reluctance to commit to him, he decides to start cooking for her.
- May December. Starring Julianne Moore, Charles Melton and Natalie Portman, the film is set twenty years after the notorious tabloid romance of married couple Grace and Joe. They are visited by television star Elizabeth, who’s preparing to play Grace in an upcoming movie of their story. As Elizabeth digs for inspiration, the past begins to invade the present, boundaries are crossed and long forgotten feelings take centre stage.
- The Promised Land. To be honest there aren’t many Mads Mikkelsen films I haven’t seen. In this film he plays impoverished Captain Ludvig Kahlen who sets out to conquer the uninhabitable Danish to build a colony in the name of the King. In exchange, he’ll receive a desperately desired Royal name for himself. But the sole ruler of the area, the merciless Frederik de Schinkel, arrogantly believes this land belongs to him. When de Schinkel learns that the maid Ann Barbara and her husband have escaped for refuge with Kahlen, the privileged and spiteful ruler swears revenge, doing everything in his power to drive the captain away.
Good luck trying to whittle down the list of interesting films. For more information go to Perth Festival 2023. The film festival runs from November 20 to March 31. Tickets are cheap at $20 or even cheaper if you buy in bulk. The stunning Somerville setting is a bonus.