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My Sydney Film Festival 2011. 15 seen. Senna takes the checkered flag.

It would be an understatement to say I thoroughly enjoyed this year’s Sydney Film Festival. A wonderful selection of films, a real sense of community through the #sydfilmfest Twitter hashtag [I’m still following it on TweetDeck!], and an increased love of film that has got me thinking in a lot of random tangents.

I saw 15, and really, I had a pretty darn good strikerate! I honestly don’t know how some nutters out there get through 30+, because I felt like I needed another weekend after weekends were lined with 3 films a day, leaving me emotionally drained and physically tired. For someone requiring constant distraction, it was a fine test of concentration.

For all the filmmaking mastery of Malick’s The Tree of Life, the quiet, simple—almost antithesis in some regards—genius of Le Quattro Volte, the perfect drama of A Separation and the psychological powerhouse that was Take Shelter, I found myself unexpectedly, but wholeheartedly gravitating towards the beautifully put together story of Ayrton Senna.

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Senna [spoilers, duh]

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Senna. Thrilling. Tragic. The most emotionally resounding story of the year.

I tried to recollect what I knew about Ayrton Senna the morning I watched the film, and all that came to mind were two things; he raced in Formula 1, and more faintly than that, he died while racing.

I now know that he was a family man, a man of Brasil, not one bit interested in the politics that ruined racing, unbelievably determined, and most importantly, a man of God. I say most importantly a man of God in a selfish way, as a viewer of this film, because hearing Senna talk repeatedly about what God had given him broke my heart little by little, knowing what would eventually happen. 

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The Tree of Life [spoilers, duh]

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What have you done to my fragile little mind, Mr. Malick?! Life, The Universe, and Everything, in just over two hours of the most beautiful cinema I have ever seen, and all I’m wondering is when I can see it again.

I was nervous for tonight. For all the chatter and buzz I’d heard, I only read through one review [a preview, really] in its entirety, from The Guardian’s David Thomson, and that last paragraph has remained burned in my mind…

What can one say about The Tree of Life? Just that for nearly 40 years it has been apparent that Malick might make a movie that could alter our understanding of what cinema should be. This may be it.

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From Albania to Iran. Day 6 of the Sydney Film Festival 2011.

Today was my favourite Sydney Film Festival 2011 day to date, taking me from Northern Albania to Iran, focusing on family, and the consequences and fallout the actions of adults in conjunction with the culture surrounding them can have on their children.

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What I’m looking forward to at the 2011 Sydney Film Festival

The Sydney Film Festival schedule came out today, and I’m pretty excited! It was last year’s Sydney Film Festival that really got me into the film festival circuit, starting with a memorable screening of Banky’s Exit Through the Gift Shop, and since that time, I was lucky enough to be in Melbourne for MIFF, and then had the time of my life at SXSW Film this year.

So, scheduling conflicts aside, and me actually being in Sydney, and able to attend, these are the films [in no particular order] that caught my eye initially…

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