LOOKING UP: Alison McAlpine in Cielo at the ALMA Observatory in the Atacama Desert, north of Chile. BELOW FROM LEFT: Stills from the films Bactrack Boys, Woman at War and Of Body and Soul.
LOOKING UP: Alison McAlpine in Cielo at the ALMA Observatory in the Atacama Desert, north of Chile. BELOW FROM LEFT: Stills from the films Bactrack Boys, Woman at War and Of Body and Soul.

4 documentary gems at Byron Bay Film Festival

THE 2018 Byron bay International Film Festival has announced its line up for films for this year.

Besides the large array of feature films, virtual reality, surf-themed cinema, music videos, environment-themed films and shorts, the festival offers a wide variety of national and international documentaries.

Here are five films you should be checking out:

The Cleaners (2018, Germany):

A documentary looking at the lives of some of the anonymous men and women in Manila who screen 25,000 Facebook posts a day and decide what to delete.

This film was a nominee at the Sundance Festivals.

What do we really know about what - and why - posts are "cleaned" from the social media we use so blithely?

How does the internet rid itself of what it doesn't like - including political and religious content?

Audiences will be surprised by who is controlling what you see.

These are poor, often religious people, sometimes ignorant of context, making decisions which some times have major implications.

The film is also sympathetic to the effects of being exposed to so much graphic imagery on their mental health.

 

Cielo (Sky, 2017, Canada):

Director Alison McAlpine is also a poet, and Cielo is simply a love poem to the night sky, as seen from the Atacama Desert in Chile.

It transports viewers to a space within which they can ponder the infinite and unknown, and is in itself an act of reverence and awe, drifting between science and spirituality.

The film talks to scientists, planet hunters in the Atacama's astronomical observatories and the desert dwellers who work the land and sea share their evocative visions of the stars and planets, their mythic stories and existential queries with remarkable openness.

Visually mind-blowing, Cielo is a triumph of the cinematographer's art.

 

Backtrack Boys (2018, Australia):

The heart-warmingly hopeful story told in Backtrack Boys is likely to make it the audience's favourite documentary this year.

This funny, moving and inspiring documentary meets troubled teens Rusty, Zach and Alfie as their headlong course towards jail is interrupted by rule-breaking jackaroo Bernie Shakeshaft, who enlists them to tour with his legendary dog jumping team.

Backtrack is a youth program run out of Shakeshaft's shed on the outskirts of Armidale. When Shakeshaft recruits the "boys", it's their last chance to prove that they are more than just delinquents with no future.

The story follows the boys' journey - and the dogs that help tame their wild ways.

 

I Used to Be Normal - A Boyband Fangirl Story (2018, Australasia):

I Used to Be Normal is a fun and intelligent documentary from Melbourne director Jessica Leski that empathetically addresses the seemingly inane adoration teenage girls have for their favourite boyband, whether it be the Backstreet Boys, One Direction, Take That or The Beatles.

The film combines interviews with archival materialanimation and home movies to explore the complex emotions of four diverse women whose lives were dramatically affected by their love of a boyband, and who found solace and joy in their fandom.

It also looks at why pop music holds such a place in our hearts and shapes our interior world.

  • At a number of venues in Byron Bay and Murwillumbah, October 12 to 20. Visit bbff.com.au for details.


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