point of view: female

the 2007 wow festival previewed

Darlene Johnson and Kim Batterham on location, Crocodile Dreaming

Darlene Johnson and Kim Batterham on location, Crocodile Dreaming

THIS YEAR’S WORLD OF WOMEN (WOW) FESTIVAL OPENS WITH TWO VERY DIFFERENT FILM EXPERIENCES. IN ROSALIND GILLESPIE’S CLIMBERS, A GROUP OF WOMEN TACKLE DEMONS, INCLUDING INNER ONES, AS THEY ATTEMPT TO SCALE MT EVEREST. IN DARLENE JOHNSON’S CROCODILE DREAMING, THE POWER OF A MOTHER’S TOTEM IMPACTS ON THE LIVES OF HER SONS EVEN AFTER HER DEATH.

Climbers (16mm, 29 minutes) was made in 1980 and features the work of Margaret Barr, the influential choreographer and teacher who worked in Sydney from the 1950s creating a body of work motivated by strong social and political concerns. Barr’s 1976 dance drama is restaged and filmed in her studio using ladders, ropes and platforms to depict the tortuous journey. The allegory of women’s struggle for liberation is infused with heroics, acrobatics and some bracing 80s feminism.

In Darlene Johnson’s Crocodile Dreaming (26 mins), the rhythm of a tale spanning time immemorial is cleverly intercut with cultural complexity, full-on suspense and some impressive effects. We’re invited into a private realm reminiscent of David Gulpilil’s own in which the keeper of the clan’s knowledge is also a film star. In a jokey scene, we see Gulpilil abandoning his role in an advertising campaign for more serious matters in his other world, back home, where his half-brother, played strongly by Tom E Lewis, is paying the price for messing with the natural order.

The WOW program offers emerging and established female filmmakers the opportunity to enter short works (up to 55 minutes and from any genre) within a thematic perspective of “seeing the world through the eyes of women.” The weekend of October 25-26 will be a celebratory gathering and a showcase for the talents of female directors, producers, writers, editors and cinematographers in the Australian film industry and in Oceania. On Friday night, 25 October, the finalists in the short film festival will be screened and awards presented.

This year, following the festival, the WOW Tour, comprising four curated screen programs including the finalists in the competition, will travel to over 18 national, regional and remote locations in Australia.

A forum, “From Conception to Screen” will be held on Friday afternoon where industry guest speakers will explore the skills and processes required to progress an idea from its conception to a final product shown on screen, via mobile phones or as a website download. Guest speakers will be videoed and a DVD made for screening/discussion along with industry programs to accompany the WOW touring event.

A selection of works from the Mobile Journeys exhibition curated by d/Lux/Media Arts/ will be featured in the foyer. This exhibition highlights new mobile telephone technologies linking with filmmaking genres. A Bluetooth Zone where exhibition creative pieces will be “zapped” directly to guests’ mobile phones for viewing will be a feature of the exhibition. There is also a new category: an iDRINX award and prize for the best viral, a short film/video up to three minutes in length designed for internet viewing.

WOW Festival 2007, Chauvel Cinema, Sydney Thursday-Friday 25-26 October. For more information: Sil-Nyin Cameron, Festival Director/Co-ordinator wowfilmfestival@nsw.wift.org

RealTime issue #81 Oct-Nov 2007 pg. 24

© Virginia Baxter; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 October 2007