ONCE again, film director, writer and curator, Simon Weaving, has emerged from hiding down at the coast to bring us “the Winter Film Series,” at the National Gallery of Australia.
Screening at 6pm on Wednesdays in June and July. The program put together by Weaving this year focuses firmly on the geniuses, legitimate or otherwise, behind art, a perfect match for the festival’s location.
First cab off the rank will be the 2011 film “Marwencol.” Focusing on the creator of a World War II era imagined town of the same name, this 84 minute documentary follows the real-life story of Mark Hogancamp, beaten to a pulp by five men outside a bar, who reconstructed his life by creating a mini-town in his own backyard, complete with dolls representing friends and family and all the town’s drama, lovingly documented by Hogancamp. After being discovered by a New York art gallery, he is forced to choose between his fantasy life and the real world (if you can call the art world that) which now beckons.
The screening on June 4 will be followed by a Skype Q&A with the director Jeff Malmberg.
Tehran is one of the world’s great centres of both art and film. The festival next turns its attention to “Fifi howls from happiness,” a 96 minutes film focusing on Bahman Mohassess, a pre-revolutionary artist admired by connoisseurs in the West. In 2006 he destroyed much of this work, and vanished, until a young female Iranian filmmaker tracked him down in Rome. The screening on June 11 will be followed by Q&A with the director of Australia’s Persian International Film Festival, ANU graduate, Amin Palangi.
In the 101 minute feature film from 2013, “Picasso’s Gang,” the brilliant young Pablo Picasso and his mates, the poet Apollinaire and poet/artist Max Jacob, are accused of stealing Mona Lisa from the Louvre. Sounds outlandish? Based on a true story, it’s a fun look at the bohemian life of Paris and the arty crowd of the time.The screening on June 18, will be followed by Q&A, curatorial assistant at the NGA, Emily Owens.
In “Beltracci: the art of forgery,” the spotlight turns on the notorious post-war art forger Wolfgang Beltracchi. This 93 minute documentary exposes his genius and also the extraordinary web of deceit needed to get away with it. The screening on June 25, will be followed by a Q&A.
“A Story of Children and Film” assumes a convention much-admired by curator Weaving as director Mark Cousins takes footage from 50 great films to explore what cinema has to say about childhood, and for that matter as Weaving says, what childhood has to say about cinema. Everything from David Lean’s 1949 film “Great Expectations” to Wes Anderson’s 2012 film “Moonrise Kingdom” have been used as fodder. The screening on July 2 will be followed by a Skype Q&A with director Cousins.
Weaving is particularly proud of having acquired “Finding Vivian Maier,” an 83 minute documentary about the reclusive nanny now judged to be one of the great social photographers of the 20th century. Maier took more than 100,000 photographs and hid them, but when filmmakers John Maloof and Charlie Siskel came across them at auction, they slowly piece together the story of this amazing woman. The July 9 screening is in advance of general release.
Weaving will introduce each film and in most cases there will be a Q&A.
“The Winter Film Series,” at the James O. Fairfax theatre, National Gallery of Australia, 6pm, June 4, 11, 18 and 25 and July 2 and 9. Bookings to https://online.nga.gov.au/eventbookings or single tickets at the front desk.
All foreign language films are subtitled in English.