Team BRAG’s SFF Shortlist

The Rocket

Official Competition

Set in regional Laos, The Rocket tells the distressing tale of ten-year-old Ahlo whose grandmother believes him to be a cursed barer of bad luck. After his family is forced to relocate after losing their home, Ahlo teams up with spirited orphan Kia and her eccentric ex-soldier uncle Purple who is a rice-wine loving James Brown fanatic. To find redemption, underage Ahlo enters the dangerous Rocket Festival in hope of awakening the Rain Gods. Winner of major prizes at both Berlinale and Tribeca, director Kim Mordaunt delivers a confronting expose into damaged rural life that’s brought to life through spectacular cinematographic finesse. Lisa Omagari, BRAG Arts & Culture Editor

Only God Forgives

Official Competition

An obvious choice, but how could you not want to see a film that was booed by the audience at Cannes yet collected five stars from Peter Bradshaw in the Guardian, who called it “emotionally breathtaking, aesthetically brilliant and immensely violent”? Winding Refn’s beautiful and gory thriller about American expat criminals in Bangkok is likely to be the most divisive film at SFF this year; although most viewers will be going just to see more of Ryan Goslingbeing a proper bad arse. Nick Jarvis, BRAG Editor


Official Competition

African filmmaker Mahamat-Saleh Haroun’s Grisgris is probably SFF’s most anticipated humanist drama. Set in Chad, the film details the life of a young man who dreams of overcoming economic and physical adversity. At 25, Grisgris has a paralysed leg, but is determined to become a dancer; despite his serious disability he is the toast of the nightclub scene. Arriving on the SFF screen after it’s debut at Cannes, Haroun’s film brings to the fore an extraordinary story of human triumph in a war-ravaged country on the brink of change. Sarah Bryant, BRAG Art Director.

Oh Boy

Official Competition

We want you to meet Niko. He’s a uni dropout mooching off his parents – an aimless idler living in Berlin, watching on as his city transitions into a hipster hangout for Gen Y types just like him. The charming yet deadpan Tom Schilling stars as Niko in this beautifully shot slacker comedy from first-time director Jan Ole Gerster. There’s a poetic allure here; the film is shot in black and white, and set to a New Orleans Jazz-dominated score to expose the modern backdrop of a sultry Berlin. Add to this a quirky support cast from some of Germany’s best actors and you’ve got Oh Boy. Ross Eldridge, BRAG Advertising and Content Coordinator.

The Unlikely Pilgrims

Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize

John Cherry and Kristen Mallyon’s The Unlikely Pilgrims has been nine years in the making and is set for its world premiere at SFF this year. Taking place on an ancient walk spanning 800 kilometres across Northern Spain, The Camino de Santiago, the film follows four unlikely pilgrims: drug and alcohol counsellor Ronan and three others who have just completed his rehabilitation program. Bi-polar Dave, animal welfare activist Amy and troubled drug addict Chris share with Ronan a journey founded on confronting one’s own physical, spiritual and emotional limits. Les White, BRAG Advertising Manager.

SFF Documentary

Reel Life On Screen

F*ck For Forest

An unobtrusive documentary crew follow a group of polyamorous neo-hippies who are putting away money to ‘save the forest’ by making and selling homemade sex movies. So far, so good as we follow them around Berlin recruiting new eco-porn stars, dumpster diving, playing awful folk music and putting on (excruciatingly awkward yet hilarious) live sex shows. But when they finally make the trip to the Amazon to find a plot of jungle to save, they might find the local indigenous people aren’t as appreciative of their vague new age hyperbole as they’d expected…

Program: International Documentary

Director: Michal Marczak

Country: Poland, Germany

Mistaken For Strangers

Matt Berninger, frontman of incredible indie band The National, must have been feeling left out – the band comprises two sets of brothers plus Berninger, so he invited his ne’er-do-well younger brother Tom along as they toured High Violet and exploded worldwide. Metalhead Tom’s job was to be a roadie and to document the tour on file – turns out Tom’s not the most organised of filmmakers, but that hardly matters, as what emerges is a haphazard, self-aware and intimate portrait of two very different brothers (with, naturally, an insanely good soundtrack).

Program: Sounds On Screen

Director: Tom Berninger

Country: USA

Narco Cultura

Photojournalist Shaul Schwarz delves into the horror of Mexico’s drug-driven civil war, following the grisly day to day work of a Mexican CSI agent juxtaposed against LA-based Narco-Corrida musician Edgar Quintero, part of a hugely popular American musical subculture of Mariachi-folk singers who glamorise the violent real-life exploits of cartel leaders. Schwarz explores the sensitive territory behind popular music and culture inspired by the Mexican drug war that makes Californian Latinos feel tough, while south of the border they’re literally picking up the (body) pieces.

Program: International Documentary

Director: Shaul Schwarz

Country: USA, Mexico

The Pervert’s Guide to Ideology

Polemical philosopher Slavoj Žižek tackles personal and political ideology in cinema, expounding in his patented motor-mouth fashion on films from Taxi Driver to Sound of Music from within recreations of the movies’ sets. If you’re seeking inspiration to raise hackles in the SFF Hub’s afternoon Film Club, then look no further.

Program: International Documentary

Director: Sophie Fiennes

Country: UK, Ireland

Death Metal Angola

Fuck your middle-class angst, suburban death metal fans – no one can summon up more rage and fear into a death growl and blast beat than the civil war orphans of Angola. Filmmaker Jeremy Xido follows couple Sonia and Wilker, who run the Okutiuka orphanage, as they attempt to stage Angola’s first rock music festival, starring bands started at the orphanage as a way of exorcising demons and “clearing the debris of the sounds of war.”

Program: Sounds On Screen

Director: Jeremy Xido

Country: USA, Angola

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