A Necessary Conversation

Martin Scorsese, a regular champion of that elusive thing we call ‘cinema’, introduced the new 4K restoration of Rebel Without a Cause at this year’s Berlinale. He posed the question, “What is cinema?” Simple yet complex, Scorsese answered himself, giving cinephiles everywhere food for thought, “For me there’s only one answer: it is necessary.”

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From our perspective, as a repertory picture palace, the term ‘cinema’ is more important now than ever before. Whatever we understand it as – place, activity, concept – it’s a living thing insomuch as it’s always in conversation with the world. Just like audiences, experiences and responses, it’s always changing.

This thing we call cinema is so important, especially as we try to navigate our way through its biggest change since the transition from the silent era into talkies. If ‘film’ no longer means the physical medium running through the projector, then maybe ‘cinema’ doesn’t mean auditorium anymore either. Perhaps ‘cinema’ has become more spiritual than that.

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If we start to think about ‘cinema’ as a term that encompasses its historic roots, as well as its social connotations, then we can start to see the picture Scorsese is painting. The reason it is necessary is because it is endangered. With so many film prints continuing to be junked (destroyed), at a rate and with a breadth that far surpasses the current efforts in digital restoration, we are actually losing content. So, what can we do? Well, the first step is to show the studios and those keepers of our cultural artefacts that ‘cinema’ is important to us.

If we don’t celebrate what we do have, it will wither and die. Celebration in our world is valuing and supporting the preservation and exhibition of moving image works – in both film and digital formats. Here at the Astor we try to bring place, activity and concept together so that ‘cinema’ has a home. The restoration work itself is of course important, but what’s necessary is the experience of seeing it, as a communal act, transforming that beautiful concept into a living thing. That’s how we start all our conversations with the screen.

The Astor Theatre is proud to announce the 4K digital restoration of Rebel Without a Cause (1955), which recently screened at the 2014 Berlinale, will have its Australian premiere in a double bill with the 4K restoration of East of Eden (1955), on Sunday March 23rd, 7pm.

Written by Tara Judah for the Astor Theatre.

Swinburne University of Technology presents: Synaesthesia!

We know things start to get crazy-busy at this time of year but even so, there are some events that even the most intensely scheduled December diary just has to make space for. This is one of those. The continued excellence from Swinburne University of Technology is making its way back to the Astor on Tuesday night and if past years are anything to go by, then you really won’t want to miss out! Introducing Synaesthesia

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A synergy of the cinematic senses! Join us to experience shapes, sounds, tastes, smells or touches in myriad combinations. The graduate screening of the Swinburne University of Technology, Advanced Diploma of Screen and Media, is a sensory event incorporating works from both Digital Media and Film & TV students. Facebook event details here.

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Doors open at 6PM for Digital Media exhibition, followed at 7PM by film screenings. Tuesday December 3rd 2013. Free entry. No bookings required. This screening contains mature content: an adult must accompany patrons under 15 years of age.

When MIFF was at The Astor

You might not know this, but there were several years when the Melbourne International Film Festival was housed at the Astor. Having moved around the city with screenings in the past at Metro Malvern, The Rivoli, The Palais and The Arts Centre, it was during the late 1980s that the festival arrived at the Astor.

1988

At that time the festival was under the direction of Tait Brady who took over as director in 1988. It was an interesting and important time for the festival, when change and expansion was on the horizon. Due to restrictive policies from the early days that had rendered the festival a subscriber only event (the mini-subscription had only come into effect in 1987), so it wasn’t possible for people to attend single session events as you can today. There were other issues too, being that you had to purchase the programme guide (quite expensive for the time) for the running schedule we now pick up easily and readily in cafes, bars, shops and fine establishments across Melbourne. As the original policies that created such a model began to change, under Tait Brady’s leadership and in conversation with our own George Florence, single tickets became available for the first time.

1991

In subsequent years the festival and the Astor became a strong team, with the festival appearing on our iconic calendar and continually attracting a new audience. The whole festival would screen at the Astor over a two to three week period and during its time at the Astor it celebrated its 40th anniversary in 1991. In the first few years, our Proprietor George Florence single-handedly projected every reel of 16mm and 35mm film. George’s team would also get up extra early in the morning to assist with making hundreds of salad rolls each morning to feed hungry festival attendees.

Having finally expanded to a point where the single-screen at the Astor could no longer house the event, and with the festival having secured sponsorship from the Melbourne City Council (meaning it would have to move to the City of Melbourne – The Astor of course resides in the City of Port Phillip), the festival moved on to more screens in the centre of our city in 1996 as Tait Brady moved into his final year as festival director.

Here’s a great MIFF Tale with previous festival director Tait Brady reflecting on some of the craziness the festival grew into in its years at the Astor:

Side By Side

Photochemical film has serviced the film industry for more than 100 years. A medium that traditionally brought “together science, art and impact” – as according to the documentary Side by Side – has been pixelating for longer than most people outside of the industry would even know,  just ask George Lucas. But mirroring the immediacy most filmmakers appear to credit digital cameras with, is the immediacy with which this technology is now overtaking and replacing film in what is overwhelmingly considered within the industry to be an inevitable transition. Side By Side, narrated by Keanu Reeves, is a documentary that asks a select group of filmmakers to talk about the formats, the process, their perceived pros and cons, all in an easily digestible way for people outside of the “movie business” with a view to proffering some insightful inside info.

There’s no denying that Side by Side is a well made and entertaining film. And though it has no responsibility to present to its audience in any way other than as it sees fit, for anyone interested in how the issue fares beyond production, the scope is disappointingly narrow. Although the film alludes to issues pertaining to cinema exhibition and preservation, their mention is a quick nod in consultation with the same people who speak about the processes of production. The second problematic flows on from there as it becomes clear the film is really only interested in the opinions of filmmakers. At no time is there an interview with a projectionist, with either multiplex or independent cinema operators, nor distributors, nor academics, and of course, absolutely no opinion at all from movie-going audiences. However, the film has no responsibility to give its audience diversity in opinion as it carves out its central argument – that’s its prerogative. But even if we let Keanu and Kenneally (director) off the hook, what is most problematic is that even as an exercise in examining filmmakers’ opinions, Side by Side interviews a very select group of mostly Hollywood, and almost all mainstream, blockbuster filmmakers; its most obscure interview surrounding the huge success of Thomas Vinterberg’s Dogme 95 low budget film, Festen (referred to here as The Celebration). Arguably a mainstream film itself in terms of its reach although surely not in its inception, Festen is surprisingly the very first film shot entirely on digital.  But even here Keanu curiously interviews Vinterberg’s Dogme 95 celebrity colleague Lars von Trier, as well as DP Anthony Dod Mantle, instead of Vinterberg himself. Perhaps Vinterberg is considered too obscure for mainstream, western audiences likely to view this film? No consultation with avant-garde or experimental filmmakers, small arthouse filmmakers, or even a fair cross section of famous filmmakers from really anywhere outside of the studio machine is entered into.

It won’t come as a surprise to anyone that whilst not offering conclusive remarks through its narration, Side by Side consists mainly of pro-digital enthusiasts along with many who see the pros and cons but move along with industry mandate, a sole purist, Christopher Nolan, sticking out like a thumb tack as the only one who is not willing to trade in his “oil paints for crayons”, and whose DP is the only person in the entire film who seems to care about the difference in visual quality of the blacks. Danny Boyle says, “If you’re unable to deal with it, then your time is over.” But then again, he also think his own film, Slumdog Millionaire (also shot by Anthony Dod Mantle), is the film we will look back to well into the future as the mark of acceptance for digital filmmaking. It might have been a good idea for Keanu to interview at least one or two people whose delusions of grandeur and opinions of self weren’t quite so far removed from the actual future implications of the issue. Nevertheless, Side by Side is at least an accessible and entertaining starter for a conversation that needs to take place.
Written by Tara Judah for the Astor Theatre.

Too many to mention…

As New Year’s Eve approaches and we prepare ourselves for the most raucous night of the year – yep, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, now in 2K with 5.1 Surround Sound for an even more boisterous and blisteringly good time – we thought we’d take a look back over the year and some its highlights. In order to make sure this isn’t just one person’s subjective view of the year, we’ve pulled together a varied list of highlights as enthusiastically told by some of the Astor’s staff and regular E-news contributors. We welcome your input and would love to hear what your own personal Astor highlight was this year so please do let us know in the comments section below!

From our New York arm of the Astor (yes it’s true we do have an ex-pat devotee who tirelessly puts together our E-news and designs all our artwork all the way from NYC), Andy cites the arrival of our Barco 32B 4K digital projection plant and the re-release of Taxi Driver in 4K, “I’d say Taxi Driver – the debut of the new 4K projection system, further cementing the Astor as the home of the finest movie presentation in Australia.” And we have consensus from the Bio Box where Kaz says, “My favourite was the 4K re-release of Taxi Driver because it’s such a great film and seeing at that quality was amazing!” and resident ticket seller Tara agrees too, “Hearing Bernard Herrmann’s score – previously only ever in mono – in 5.1 surround sound was the most wonderful experience I’ve had all year.” Doesn’t hurt that the film itself is brilliant too.

But as we soon learned, even 2K looks amazing on our Barco 4K and so whilst TD didn’t take out number one spot for everyone, it did often get a honourable mention. From our new web designer (and we really do have to say an enormous thanks here too to Tyson who helped us put together a wonderful new website that far outshines the old one – in fact, I’d probably cite our new website as another of my greatest Astor highlights this year!), “I think my favourite was the Ghostbusters re-release, but the Taxi Driver in 4K was pretty awesome too!”

But amidst all the love for our new digital awesomeness it’s also true that we are still the home of film – both 35mm and 70mm. From the FOH Jake found a classic highlight in the charms and wit of Billy Wilder, “Some Like it Hot + The Apartment. Hadn’t seen them before; masterpieces!” And equally loved are the big screen staples we show regularly – both due to demand and also, in some instances, to ensure the prints won’t be thrown away. Regular E-news contributor Dave knows that the only way to see these films is as intended, “any screening of Apocalypse Now, Casablanca or The Wizard of Oz is something special. Three films that are best seen on the big screen.”

2011 also saw a few marathon screenings with the complete Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Pt 1 & Pt 2 screened as a double bill and there were three popular trilogies; all three Back to the Future films which screened in an epic afternoon to evening event to help raise money for Parkinson’s Victoria (plus we actually had the DeLorean at the theatre!), Halloween was another special trilogy event with Night, Dawn and Day of the Dead screening to an audience who had just seen a Zombie playing a mandolin in the candy bar foyer(!), and of course, even though the extended versions were too long to run on this occasion (we will screen them at some time in the future), there was The Lord of the Rings. FOH Shift Supervisor Les sites the latter as his highlight, “For me the Lord of the Rings marathon in July. I really was surprised by the eclectic audience that attended that day and it would be amazing to put together something similar for the forthcoming movie of the hobbit in 2012.” Indeed it would be and I don’t doubt we will!

Something we pride ourselves on at the Astor is a unique and varied style of programming that caters to a wide ranging audience. Certainly we know not everything will be to everyone’s tastes, but another joy of the arrival of our digital projector has been the much wider range of films available to us to present to you. With so many films no longer available on actual film (there are various reasons for this and they range from the only print in the world being available at a cost we can’t – with no government funding – cover, to the prints themselves having been – in my own opinion foolishly – thrown to the tip; this is called “junked”), digital has meant we were finally able to screen a hoard of films that wouldn’t otherwise have found their way to the big screen this past year, including Dario Argento’s Suspiria, John Waters’ Cry-Baby, Tarsem Singh’s The Fall, the Cairo Club presented special screening of Key Largo and E-news contributor Ben‘s favourite Metropolis. Some of these films may not have got an individual staff mention but we know from our audiences that there was some genuine love for these screenings in 2011.

We managed to fit in a fair few horror sessions on our most recent calendar and writer/FOTA member/Astor and horror film enthusiast Ben (we have a few of them!) cites the Fulci experience as his best, “In a year the gave us a legion of masterful resurrections it was a much loved and worn print of the legendary video nasty, Zombie (aka Zombie Flesh Eaters), that will sit amongst my most cherished moments. It was my 1st Italian horror film on the big screen. Nothing could prepare me for the towering joy of zombie versus shark, or the destruction of a glistening  eyeball by a monument of a splinter. Projected from a different era, I could almost smell the dust of the dead, & watching it with Fulci virgins & devotees alike as we all gasped & laughed in eager appreciation, it was a night I shall never forget.”

But with so much and so varied a program there is also sometimes the issue of being decisive and certainly it’s true that at least two people weren’t able to decide at all. The lovely Lenny whose found her way from FOH to ticket box this year gave us five options, “Very difficult to pin 1 movie / event down….. Here are my favourite 5; 1) Silent Film Festival – Chicago, the Astor is the best place to see silent films – like a journey back in time to the start of cinema. With live music it is such a treat! 2) Hamlet, Simply awe-inspiring! A must see at the Astor with 70 mm print! 3) Cinema Fiasco’s Sheba Baby, Perfectly hilariously groovy!
4) In A Better World, and 5) 13 Assassins, bring on foreign films, both fabulously epic; one emotionally and one violently and morally.” All great picks and of course the writer of this piece has a special spot for Hamlet in 70mm even if I didn’t see it at the Astor this year. Hamlet‘s not only the first film I ever saw at the Astor though, it’s also an example of a film print saved by the Astor’s awesome George Florence. Marked to be junked some years ago, George stepped in, contacted Kenneth Branagh directly and told him what was about to happen to that glorious 70mm film print with six-track magnetic sound. Kenneth was of course appalled and directed the studio to hand over the print to the Astor to continue to screen forever more. So thank film for George or we wouldn’t have the opportunity to include such a magnificent film and film print on this fast becoming lengthy list of bests!

Also indecisive when it comes to selecting just one highlight, E-news and blog contributor, FOTA member and regular supporter of the Astor Mark gave us a great list that is impossible to select just something from. So, and as the person who I suspect has actually attended the most screenings of any of our attendees for 2011, we’re going to list them all: “The Graduate/Lenny. The former has long been a favourite and the latter was a first-timer for me that really blew me away–it was a privilege to witness it in its original format on the big screen. Rollerball/Westworld. Two of my favourite futuristic films, always wonderful to see this ideally matched pair revived at the cinema. Lawrence of Arabia (even in 35mm this was an amazing experience and I kept coming back for more), 2001 (always a stunning experience in 70mm–nowhere else in Australia shows this classic sci-fi movie in this format, it gets better each time I see it), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (one of my favourite Clint Eastwood movies and the extended footage version makes a great film even greater, in fact, all of the Sergio Leone epics, including Once Upon a Time in the West and A Fistful of Dynamite), Das Boot, magnificent in 70mm, a technical marvel, an all together different view of the German military in WW2, Ben-Hur, simply demands to be witnessed on the big screen, Amadeus, semi-fictional period piece deserves praise for sheer amount of detail and care, not to mention its compelling story and the fact that it does not take everything too seriously. Honorable Mentions: Network, one of my favourite movies and one that I feel should be seen by as many people as possible [ed's note - this screened as part of a private hire not a regular screening, for Mark's birthday earlier in the year], The Red Shoes, simply because I am starting to lose count of how many times I have seen this at the Astor and I only first saw it just under three years ago. You just know there are others but I’d be here typing forever otherwise.”

Speaking of private hires – which I mentioned briefly above – we’ve had some wonderful events this year that were “off-calendar” so to speak, including premiere screenings of Face to Face, Twice: The Cam Sinclair Story and Reservoir Cats. And from the Bio Box we also get a favourite non-film event, Alex and Allyson Grey. Also from the Bio Box George cites TD as a highlight and of course 2001: A Space Odyssey (if you didn’t already know, it’s his favourite film and the 70mm print is another one he acquired himself!)

Finally, we have two mentions for the film that screened back in 1982 when George first took over the lease at the Astor Theatre: the original 1933 King Kong. For anyone who missed the wonderful milestone event in April, The Astor celebrated its 75th anniversary with a special screening of this film. Gerard who contributes to our E-news and also wrote the excellent extended review we had available at the event says, “I think it has to be Kong/the 75th celebration for me. As an animation enthusiast, the film has been a wellspring of fascination for me since childhood, yet I’d never seen it projected. The Astor’s grand deco milieu – and the post-film company – ensured the experience was well worth the wait!” Owen in FOH agrees, “My favourite of 2011 was seeing the original King Kong for the Astor’s 75th.”

Well folks, there are so many examples that didn’t quite make the list and of course not every staff member managed to get their picks in in time for this post (a certain cat who shall remain nameless failed to email me in time…) which goes some way to explaining just how awesome this year has been for us. But of course, we want to know what your highlights are too – the whole point of this is to share our experiences and with even more awesome films and events on the way for 2012 we can’t wait to share yet another year of wonderful experiences with you!

Comments collected and arranged by Tara Judah for the Astor Theatre.

THIS FILTHY WORLD IS FULL OF DIVINE TRASH

“I believe life is nothing if you’re not obsessed. I only think terrible thoughts, I do not live them. Thank God I am not my films. If audiences can laugh at my twisted ideas, what’s the great harm? I had a goal in life — I wanted to make the trashiest motion pictures in cinema history. Thanks so much for allowing me to get away with it.”
John Waters

As many of you devoted juvenile deliquents might be aware, the proverbial Pope of Trash (so-coined by one William S Burroughs) is leaving Baltimore for the next best saturation of suburbanality, yep, here in our very own land of Oz. The Pope’s visit is a much anticipated one as attendees can expect to hear about his influences, fascination with true crime, his own films and much more to do with THIS FILTHY WORLD in which we live.

The Tour:

Drawing on some of the content from his most recent book, Role Models, Waters will be touring the country, bringing his vaudevillian content to Perth, Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and of course, Melbourne. His Melbourne tour takes place on Saturday October 29 at the Melbourne Recital Centre.

The Retrospective Line-up:

Here at the Astor, we thought such an incredible opportunity to see the Pope in person warranted a pre-tour theatrical return of at least some of his impressive, exploitative, and hilarious oeuvre. So, we’ve put together, for your viewing pleasure, an entire weekend of the most tasteful cinematic trash we could find! If however you don’t so happen to live in Melbourne, fret not, there are similar opportunities in Adelaide and Sydney thanks to Adele Hann (Adelaide Film Festival) and Maggie Gerrand (MG Presents). If you’re in Adelaide, head to the Mercury Cinema and if you’re in Sydney, head to the Opera House to catch their Double Features From Hell film festival. But back to what’s here in Melbourne at Australia’s iconic, last standing, single screen, repertory cinema, THE ASTOR THEATRE.

FRIDAY OCTOBER 14, 7.30pm: FEMALE TROUBLE & POLYESTER double feature.

Female Trouble (1974), 35mm print, rated R, 95 mins: One of the things we should all be worried about is juvenile delinquency. When Dawn Davenport (Divine) doesn’t get the cha-cha heels she wanted for Christmas, she assaults her mother, runs away from home, becomes a single mother to a child born of rape, and flits between go-go dancer, model, petty criminal and murderer as she becomes a beauty experiment at the Lipstick Beauty Salon. Here, owners Donald and Donna Dasher (David Lochary and Mary Vivian Pearce) test Jean Genet’s theory that crime equals beauty. Then there are humans kept in bird cages, fatal facial peels, the injecting of liquid eyeliner… Undoubtedly one of the most hilarious examinations of reactionary social politics ever made, this early Waters work is riotous good fun and quite sincerely questions the perils of a celebrity culture before it was even really considered a thing.

Polyester (1981), 35mm print, rated M, 86 mins: The first film to bring Odorama (or Smell-o-vision) to the big screen, Polyester marks Waters’ move from the underground into the mainstream – well, the subversive underground mainstream anyway. Divine dons her finest in suburban housewife get-up in her too wonderful for words performance as the picture of middle American moms. Making fun of all-American, heteronormative family values, Waters exposes the artifice of such stifling societal constructs with unmatched hilarity and sass. As synthetic as the title suggests, Polyester unearths everything that is ugly about being “normal” and “average” in the most stupendously kitsch, camp and endearing way.

SATURDAY OCTOBER 15, 7.30pm: PINK FLAMINGOS & A DIRTY SHAME double feature.

Pink Flamingos (1972), 35mm print, rated R, 110 mins: This is the film with that famous scene that still has people looking up the term “coprophagia”. If you don’t know what that means then don’t blame us when you find out! Divine stars alongside or perhaps against Raymond and Connie Marble (David Lochary and Mink Stole) in an incredible underground tabloid like pageant for the trashy sought after title of “The Filthiest Person Alive”. This is one of THE defining films of American Underground cinema and the most iconic of Waters’ work that helped him win the title “Pope of Trash”.

A Dirty Shame (2004), 35mm print, rated R, 89 mins: You’re either a neuter or a pervert in this much later release in Waters’ filmography. Neuters are residents in Harford Road who can’t stand carnal knowledge and consider anyone who can a pervert. But when a series of concussions befall some of Harford Road’s neuters, a fully-fledged sex crazed soft-core public parade of shame ensues. There is also a rather ambitious search to discover the ultimate sex act. Possibly the most ludicrous story included in our mini fest, your response to A Dirty Shame will undoubtedly indicate to which of the two camps you belong!


SUNDAY OCTOBER 16, 2pm: HAIRSPRAY single feature, 5pm: CRY-BABY single feature, and 8pm: DIVINE TRASH single feature.

Hairspray (1988), digital presentation, rated PG, 90 mins: Now a major Broadway musical and remade for the masses, the most mainstream of all of Waters’ films, and the only one that is truly “family friendly”, Hairspray is all about counter culture in the ’60s and the increasing efforts of the most unlikely souls to out the upper classes for their negative views towards progressive issues such as racial integration, as well, of course, as being all about youths enjoying themselves and wearing their hair however they darn well please.

Cry-Baby (1990), digital presentation, rated M, 85 mins: Wade “Cry Baby” Walker is a sworn Drape (Greaser) and Allison Vernon-Williams a model Square. So when the unlikely two fall in love the entire town of Baltimore is thrown into an immediate state of uproar. Sound familiar? That’s because Cry-Baby is a parody that focuses its attentions on hit teen musical Grease. Another of Waters’ films to find its adapted way to Broadway, Cry-Baby is commercial counter-culture at its best. Only Waters could have so fantastic a flirtation with wholesome family fun whilst blatantly stating that there’s nothing more disgusting than wholesome family fun.

Divine Trash (1998), digital presentation, rated R, 97 mins: Could there be a more perfect title for a documentary about John Waters? Quite simply, no. Yeager’s documentary intercuts interviews and stock footage to celebrate and examine his incredible and controversial work. Divine Trash will be introduced by comedy film duo Lee Zachariah and Shannon Marinko, hosts of The Bazura Project, ABC 2′s newest six-part comedy, entertainment series about Australia’s number one, non sports-related past time: the movies. (Coming to ABC 2 Thursday September 29, 9pm. Watch their opening title sequence here.)

* NB: each session will also feature a welcome video recording by John Waters!

The Giveaways:

Friday October 14: Check under your seat to see if you’ve won a copy of John Waters’ latest book Role Models. 

Saturday October 15: DIVINE look-a-like contest. The best Divine in the house will win a double pass to see John Waters live at the Melbourne Recital Centre on Saturday October 29. Special prizes for second and third place.

Sunday October 16: During our special intro to Steven Yeager’s documentary Divine Trash, with The Bazura Project hosts Lee Zachariah and Shannon Marinko, we’ll be giving away ANOTHER double pass to see John Waters live at the Melbourne Recital Centre, Saturday October 29. So brush up on your Waters’ trivia!

The result:

A wicked Waters weekend. Be there or be square. Ewwwww.

Written by Tara Judah for The Astor Theatre. The Astor Theatre would like to thank Maggie Gerrand, The Adelaide Film Festival, The Mercury Cinema, The Arc Cinema, Roadshow Entertainment, Hollywood Classics, Yaman Films, ABC 2 and The Bazura Project.

St Kilda Film Festival Day 4

Day four of the festival was the busiest day yet. Our foyers were packed full of stalls and patrons chatting about courses, funding, international festivals and all things film. We also had Paul Harris and the wonderful team at 3RRR broadcasting Melbourne’s premier film focused radio show Film Buff’s Forecast live from our upstairs foyer and a plasma TV station where you could put on a set of headphones and watch the shorts in whatever order you chose.

Australia’s Top 100 Competition Shorts continued with six more sessions; Session 11 being so popular we even had to open our stalls as the dress circle was positively full of filmmakers, their friends, family and fans. Afterglow, Nadine Garner’s directorial debut was greeted with a great reception and the Dutch Shorts also proved to be quite the festival highlight.

Beyond the short films we had a visit from beyond the grave as Deadly Earnest resurrected himself to wish us all a hateful evening in earnest. Amidst a cloud of smoke he read the audience a poem before the hilarity and gore of Drive-in Delirium’s Horrorpalooza got under way. Not just a gorefest, Horrorpalooza! also brought us Trog (1970), The Green Slime (1968)  – and coming up on our next calendar as part of Cinema Fiasco’s new line-up (Friday July 01)! and, of course, an insane number of half-naked women. The prize for best (and by which we mean most convoluted) title goes to The Night Evelyn Came Out of the Grave (1971) and the best marketing ploy we’ve seen in a long time goes out to Corruption (1968) – watch the trailer below and you’ll see why!

The last of the Competition sessions are already underway for today and there’s still time to get your tickets for Coffee: Between Reality and Imagination (the Israeli/Palestinian shorts programme at 4.30pm this afternoon) as well as the Closing Night Awards.

And finally, for anyone wondering where Marzipan is – I’m afraid she left us for a few days as of last night. She has a very important appointment with the vet on Tuesday and wanted to get some rest away from the ruckus first.

St Kilda Film Festival Day 3

Day 3 of the festival gave everyone a little lie in as the first session of the day started with a free session: Park Saints at 5pm. Finishing up with a choir onstage and a hoard of happy attendees, the atmosphere for the evening was positively brimming. Our foyers were full for the Irish Films at 7.30pm and the die-hard film fans stayed on for the comedy shorts session at 10.30pm which included Pop, starring Angus Sampson (recently pictured with Melbourne’s most infamous cat Marzipan in the Herald Sun - although she denies all claims that they’re “an item”, saying their relationship is strictly professional, which is good news because she’s a cat).

Today the festival continues with its fullest day yet. So come along any time from 11.30am to get your tickets if you haven’t already done so as we’ve got Paul Harris and the Film Buff’s team broadcasting live from the venue for 3RRR (if you can’t make it down, be sure to listen in at 102.7FM or stream online). There will also be a bunch of stalls set up upstairs for the Industry Open Day, a Dutch Shorts programme at 4.30pm, six more Australian Top 100 Competition Shorts sessions (including one that stars our very own FOH staff member!) and tonight, Drive-In Delirium’s Horrorpalooza! which showcases a bevvy of gory and insane exploitation and horror trailers. It’s going to be a fantastically full day so make sure you get down here.

St Kilda Film Festival: Day 2

Last night (Day 2 of the festival) something rather scientific took place inside our grand old theatre walls, and I’m not even referring to the strange phenomenon of people leaving whilst there was still a free bar going on inside the auditorium next to a live DJ onstage playing stupendous tunes to the backdrop of Black Orpheus (1959)! Nope, the strange scientific discovery I’m referring to is the empirical evidence that proved to us once and for all that it is possible for Melburnians of the North to cross the city and spend a night Southside. And no, not one of them turned into a pumpkin (although that might go some way to explaining why so many of them abandoned boxes of free pizza and glasses of free booze just before midnight…)

But on a serious note, Day 2 saw a very touching memorial slide show tribute screened just prior to the 6pm session in memory of Bill Hunter, accompanied by some brief but fitting words from festival director, Paul Harris. It also saw sessions 2 & 3 of Australia’s Top 100 Competition Shorts get under way and it did present some pretty innovative music videos; some of which won awards. The award for Best Music Video went to Beautiful Trash by Lanu featuring Megan Washington. Beautiful Trash was directed and produced by Lucy Dyson who just so happens to be part of an exhibition on now at the Jenny Port Gallery until May 28.  To check out all the winners head on over to the St Kilda Film Festival official website, but before you do, take a minute to watch this clip by the The Bedroom Philosopher who won the Best Independent Award for Northcote (So Hungover).

Thanks SoundKILDA for the crumple bags given to audience members with the most rock’n’roll contents in their own bags and for finally proving that even the most Northcotey of Northerners aren’t restricted to just the 86 tram.

The festival continues tonight with a free screening of Park Saints at 5pm. Tonight’s programme also includes some Irish Shorts & three more of Australia’s Top 100 – Competition Sessions.

St Kilda Film Festival

This year the St Kilda Film Festival is hanging out round our gaff and so far it’s all kinds of awesome.

After Opening Night at the Palais and with many filmy types recovering from the afterparty at the Town Hall (catered by ACC and with some outstanding tunes playing into the wee hours), we opened our Marzipan silhouette-postered doors to welcome the first of the week’s screenings. Kicking off with some filmmakers milling about the place and with Paul Harris introducing the fantastic St Kilda Film Fest team, our first evening was off to a pretty good start. Last night also saw the competition shorts begin (and yes, you do get to vote for the films in these sessions when you come along!) as well as the first international programme: German Shorts from interfilm Berlin Short Film Festival.

To find out more about what’s happened at the theatre today you’ll need either to turn up and get involved (go on, SoundKILDA is happening at 9pm!) or check back in with us tomorrow to see what you missed!

For more info on purchasing tickets for individual sessions or for Closing Night please head on over to the St Kilda Film Festival website.