How Simon sees the reel world

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IT’S our annual joke – Canberra International Film Festival director Simon Weaving’s trip to Cannes Film Festival must be a tough job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

Weaving happily agrees, describing it as his “main shopping trip”.

“I watch 60 films in 12 days and have about 60 meetings with directors,” he explains, “but it’s always wonderful to be there.”

As “just a humble film festival director”, there’s no sex, drugs or rock ‘n’ roll for him, but he has read that the incidence of larceny dramatically peaks at the time of the festival.

And the mention of larceny leads us to the fun film Weaving’s chosen for opening night.

“After three years of tormenting the opening-night audiences with some amazing, heavy-going films, I wanted one this year that would be entertaining,” he says.

His choice for October 31 is Ken Loach’s heist film “The Angels’ Share”: “A feel-good film with a lovely plot in which everybody comes off the better, even the victims.”

So, do our festival-goers demand premieres?

“Provided that it hasn’t been shown in Canberra before, they don’t mind,” Weaving says. But there are 14 Australian premieres, and “I could fill the festival with world premieres and they’d probably be the worst 60 films you’ve ever seen, but we’ve got high-quality storytelling.”

Weaving says that documentary film making has really come of age in the last  decade and this year he’s programmed in music documentaries, including one about Chile’s Violeta Parra and Ian Darling’s “Paul Kelly: Stories of Me”, to screen at Canberra Theatre on November 2 with Kelly appearing live.

“CityNews” has noticed Weaving’s strange obsession with zombies.

With 60 films, he figures, he’s free to target a younger audience, who love these movies, “cheesy and tongue-in-cheek, with another level of meaning, often taking the mickey out of American consumerism.”

We chortle over the sci-fi movie, “Grabbers”, set in Ireland, where giant octopi-like beasts love human blood, but only under a certain blood-alcohol level – the local townspeople head to the pub.

The Arc Cinema will be the centre for many of these monstrous movies, including “Robot Monster”.  Weaving is evidently proud of its Golden Turkey Award for “Most Ridiculous Monster in Screen History”. You can dress up for the outdoor screening on November 10.

Finally, in a deft move, Weaving combines horror, feature and doco with a retro-screening of Stanley Kubrick’s “The Shining”, with a documentary about its making. Now, that’ll be a scream!

Canberra International Film Festival, October 31-November 11. Full program and tickets at

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Helen Musa
“CityNews” arts editor

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