LEX Lindsay has noticed two curious things about Canberrans – they like to talk, and they love to talk politics.
Lindsay, the new director of the Canberra International Film Festival, says: “I want to create a festival that is particular to Canberra and feels Canberran.”
With this in mind, he’s put together a debut 64-movie event that’s part-talkfest, where films and “conversations” are grouped under nine themes: sex, politics, religion, individual, family, planet, life, love and liberty.
But, Lindsay hastens to assure “CityNews” it’s not intended to confuse audiences, each category can contain within it a comedy, a documentary, a drama, a love story and an action thriller.
Considering Lindsay has commuted to and from Canberra while curating the festival, how can he be so sure about which stories and conversations will go down with locals?
Easy. He’s taken advice from his board and staff.
Take his inclusion of Lynn-Maree Milburn’s doco, “In Bob We Trust”.
Father Bob Maguire, he says, “challenges people’s perceptions about what a father can say,” so he’ll appear here “in conversation” with clerical media stars Pat Power and Paul Collins.
Another collaborative move has been to engage Canberra comedians, students, bloggers, presenters and film lovers to do 90-second video reviews or 350-word written reviews to post on Facebook.
So where does this film festival fit? Melbourne’s is the largest, with more than 300 films, Lindsay says, “but don’t forget that 64 films and 100 sessions are decent figures… ours is a middle-sized festival, and that really excites me… we can be quite original in delivering a different curatorial choice.”
Lindsay’s research shows we are “hot for documentaries”. So he’s chosen a selection of 16 quality documentaries, including “Our Nixon”, home movies filmed by top Nixon aides; “Mirage Men”, which, and “God Loves Uganda”, which examines the American Evangelical movement’s role in spreading Christianity and promoting the Uganda Anti-Homosexuality Bill.
Turning to feature films, there’s Robert Redford in J.C. Chandor’s survival film, “All Is Lost” for opening night.
While film-spotting in Cannes, Lindsay found “Wakolda” from a young Argentine female director as an Australian premiere. It’s a psychological thriller about a family unwittingly living with Nazi war criminal Josef Mengele.
The dark side is further explored in “Nothing Bad Can Happen” from Germany, the story of a brutal murder from another young female director, but one in which a “Jesus freak” ends up being a figure of hope.
There’s even more darkness in “Blackfish,” about the killer whale Tilikum, that was involved in the deaths of three people.
Somehow we’re plumbing the depths? Is that what Canberrans like?
Certainly not, says, Lindsay.
“We aim to have a whole lot of fun – who needs to be weeping volumes of tears?”
17th annual Canberra International Film Festival, at Dendy Cinemas and the National Film and Sound Archive’s Arc Cinema, October 30 to November 10, bookings to canberrafilmfestival.com.au