Taiwan, 90 mins
What do you do if you are in your seventies or eighties and live in Taiwan? Sit back and enjoy your retirement watching the world go by? Nope. At least, not for this awesome group of seventeen with an average age of 81 who spent a year learning to ride scooters in the build up to a fourteen-day ride around the island.
Many of the riders had barely travelled and delighted in seeing parts of the island they had not previously anticipated seeing. By riding the scooters, they were able to maintain the independence that many are losing during the later stage of life. Of course, things are not totally smooth sailing; there are a variety of health issues with the group, from high blood pressure to cancer and coronary illness. But the determination of the group, supporting each other throughout, carries them on their way. Plus, they are absolutely adorable. With the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival promising a lot of challenging content, this is a film that will bring a smile to your face.
Go Grandriders screens at ACMI at 3pm on Saturday, May 11
USA, 82 mins
I believe that everyone should have the right to love who they want (as long as it is consensual) and to follow whatever religion they want to (as long as it is not hurting others). However, I do not understand why anyone would want to remain worshipping in a religion that not only does not accept your sexuality, but also calls you a sinner for it. But, there are people out there who are GLBT (gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender) who want to be accepted and welcomed by the church. Like I say, I don’t understand why, but they do. I don’t really understand the need for anyone to have religion, regardless of any other aspect of their lives.
Anyhow, personal opinions aside, Love Free or Die is about the rights for GLBT people to be accepted in the church, both within their hierarchy and to have parishioners’’ gay weddings to be celebrated by the church.
Much of the film follows Gene Robinson, the first openly gay man living in a relationship to become bishop in the Episcopal Church, a branch of the Anglican Church. He is the only bishop to not be invited to the meeting of all of the bishops of the world, but is still invited (against the Archbishop of Canterbury’s instruction) to preach at a church in London. The film also covers the voting at the Episcopal conference as to whether they would change their ways to accept GLBT lifestyles or not, with the risk that a yes vote would break them away from the Anglican Church.
The subject matter covered is very interesting, but it’s not a great film. At no stage was I outraged about the issue and I did not feel connection to anyone’s plight.
Love Free or Die screens at ACMI at 6:30pm on Monday, May 13
Ombline’s boyfriend died during an arrest that went wrong, and brutally attacked the police involved. She was charged and sentenced to three years in jail. However, after only a short while in, she discovers that she is pregnant. The film follows how a woman can give birth and raise a child in prison.
Not surprisingly, this is a very bleak film. Ombline is a tragic character who forces herself to turn her life around when she has her son. It is so hard to watch, with the violence and horror that is jail surrounding a small, beautiful child. At the end, it does attempt to give a light at the end of the tunnel, but this sadtacular film left me feeling bleak and sad for the world.
Ombline screens at ACMI at 6:45pm on Friday May 10
Netherlands, 57 mins
The raw food movement challenges the way we eat. Those following the movement eat only raw fruit, vegetables and nuts, eschewing anything that may contain added hormones, additives and chemicals. Francis and her teenage son, Tom, are strict followers of the raw food diet. However, after appearing on a television chat show, Francis is reported for child abuse and doctors test Tom. He is found to be malnourished, lacking many of the nutrients to allow him to grow to his full potential, and the government is obliged to step in.
I found this film difficult to watch. I believe that Francis loves her son very much, but it worries me so much that it appears she is basing these crucial life decisions on information found on Google. It annoyed me a lot that there was little discussion on the scientific basis for the research she’d done, especially given the long-term effects on her son. Tom seems potentially like a smart child who can make decisions based on information, yet there seems to be no comment made on the very emotive pleas that Francis is making to her son. It felt as though the cause is more important to her than her own son’s health.
Rawer screens at ACMI at 8:30pm on Tuesday, May 21
USA 17 mins
You’ll know the photos of Eddie Adams. You may not be aware of who took the photos, but you’ll know them.
This eighteen minute documentary looks at the experience of Adams in Vietnam, most particularly at the story behind the second photo. The question that is asked is; does a picture tell the absolute truth? The answers from a variety of academics swings from a definite yes to a definite no and anywhere in between. It’s very interesting, and no doubt this short doco will be used in classrooms when looking at representation and truth.
Eddie Adams: Saigon ’68 screens at ACMI at 6:30pm on Monday May 20
Throughout May and June, the Human Rights Arts and Film Festival will be taking place across the country. The festival highlights cinema, music and art from across the globe that engages and informs audiences on human rights issues. It’s fascinating to watch some of these films and to see the discussions that arise afterwards; especially when there can be strong ambiguity as to whether rights are being abused, and in some cases there are questions about whose is affected. My next few film reviews are of films which will be screened as part of HRAFF.
Melbourne – May 9 – 23
Brisbane – June 4 -6
Canberra – June 3-5
Perth – June 4-6
Sydney – May 28-30
Alice Springs – May 31-June 2