Ballarat Film Society
The Ballarat Film Society is a member of the Federation of Victorian Film Societies and is a not-for profit organisation. Films play on the second Thursday of every month in the Minerva Space.
Doors open at 7.00pm with refreshments for a 7.30 start.
12 months (Feb-December) $60 6 months (Feb-June), (July-Dec) $30
For film enquiries, phone Sue: 5341 2266
To join or renew your membership, please e-mail Angus, or come with cash on the night.
Membership can be paid by bank transfer or with cash.o join or renew your membership please
February 8: The Crows Egg
India, 2014, 99 min. Dir: M. Manikandan
Tamil Drama Comedy.
To introduce our year of great cinematic story-telling, we start in Chennai, India where we find two young brothers who have one burning ambition: to raise 300 rupees to taste a slice of a new fashionable food called pizza.
Whilst the film is a stark critique of globalization and a satirical depiction of the powerful, corrupt and the poor, the film’s great quality is the innocence and naturalistic performances of the 2 boy’s character development. Ramesh and J. Vignesh are actual brothers who were trained for 3 months to become accustomed to the camera. Shot on location in the slums of Chennai the film also includes the Indian filmic formulae of ‘slow mo’ and Indian dance songs.
March 8: A Quiet Passion
UK/Belgium/USA, 2017, 126 min.
American Historical Biopic
Cynthia Nixon, of Sex in the City fame, gives a searing, tour-de-force performance as the legendary but reclusive 19th Century poet Emily Dickinson (1830-86). Davies’ interpretation shows the poet as possessing a single-minded intelligence that informs her opinions on life, art and the patriarchal society in which she lived.
The film is set largely within the confines of her family home in Boston, Massachusetts, and through the rhythm and routine of generational milestones, the audience witnesses with austere clarity the poet’s physical and mental suffering. Dickenson saw fewer than 12 of her 1,775 poems published during her life; this film suggests that it was partly the historical context and partly due to her pride.
April 12: Embrace Of The Serpent
Colombia/Venezuela/Argentina/ The Netherlands, 2015, b/w and color, 120 min. Dir: Ciro Guerra
Inspired by the journals of real-life explorers German Theodor Koch-Grunberg and American Richard Evans Schultes, this film is the story of a dream-like examination of an Amazonian shaman called Karamakate. Karamakate leads the explorers into the Amazonian jungle in the first half of the 1900s as they search for a rare flower alleged to have healing properties.
Shot in both colour and black and white, the film charts each man’s treacherous and life-changing journey through the aftermath of the rubber boom. The director Ciro Guerra has claimed that the film is an attempt to build a bridge between Western and Amazonian storytelling. Embrace the Serpent has been the winner of numerous festival prizes.
May 10: Loving Vincent
UK/Poland, 2017, 95 min. Dir: Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman.
Loving Vincent is an investigation into the mysterious circumstances around the death of Vincent Van Gogh. It is also a unique experiment, being an animated film in the style of the artist himself, with many scenes designed to recall particular paintings.
This ambitious project was funded by the Polish Film Institute and a Kickstart campaign, with an English-speaking cast (Douglas Booth, Saoirse Ronan and Chris O’Dowd). Over 65,000 frames of live footage were individually painted over, frame by frame, by a team of artists. This hand-crafted rotoscoping technique is the diametric opposite of the ubiquitous CGI; here it creates a visually mesmerizing and compelling film which was awarded the Best Animated Feature Film Award at the 30th European Film Awards in Berlin.
June 14: Early Winter
Canada/Australia, 2015, 97 min. Dir: Michael Rowe
Australian Director/Indi Film Drama
Director Michael Rowe grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Ballarat and now lives and works in Mexico. His controversial Leap Year (2010) won the prestigious Camera D’Or for Best First Film at Cannes. Early Winter (2015) is an intimate, sobering and realistic portrayal of a relationship in trouble, taking us into the lives of a Canadian couple David (Paul Daucet) and Maya (Suzanne Clement) as they struggle to hang onto their relationship. David is employed at an aged care facility, whilst Maya cares for the children and communicates with her Russian family via social media.
The movement and tension of David and Maya’s lives is captured with static camera shots, skillfully heightened by the absence of any musical soundtrack.
Cast: Suzanne Clement and Paul Doucet
July 12: This Must Be The Place
USA, 2012, 218 min. Dir: Paolo Sorrentino
Sean Penn is bizarrely endearing as Cheyenne, an aging rock/Goth star living in Ireland who is prompted by his father’s death to embark on a picaresque journey across America – ostensibly to hunt down a Nazi war criminal. However, the film doesn’t allow itself, or us, to be too hung up on this goal, being driven by a whimsical relish for the absurd and the everyday alike.
Frances McDormand plays Cheyenne’s wife/ soul-mate (who is also a firefighter), while a passing parade of characters includes David Byrne (lead singer of the band Talking Heads) and the inventor of the wheeled suitcase, Robert Plath.
August 9: The Last Bridge
Germany, 1954, 98 min, b&w. Dir: Andrej Munk
German War Film
During World War 2 a dedicated but naïve doctor Helga (Maria Snell) stationed at a German field hospital is kidnapped by Serbian partisans to help fight an outbreak of typhoid in occupied Yugoslavia. As she assimilates with the partisans, she realizes they are patriots fighting for a cause. The bridge which separates the enemy camp from the hospital becomes the symbol for the senselessness of war. Andrej Munk was born in Krakow to a Jewish family. Moving to Warsaw he took part in and survived the Polish Uprising in 1944. He is considered one of the most influential artists of the Post-Stalinist period in the People’s Republic of Poland but was tragically killed in a car crash in 1961 when leaving Auschwitz concentration camp after shooting the Polish film Passenger.
September 13: Black Souls
Italy, 2013, 108 min. Dir: Francesco Munzi
Italian Crime Thriller
Based on true events, Black Souls (2013) is a gripping story of a Calabrian mafia dynasty and one man’s chilling struggle to break free of a chequered past. Luciano (Fabrizio Ferracane), the eldest of the Carbone brothers, turns his back on his family’s drug operations and seeks to take his 20 year old son Leo (Guiseppe Fumo) back to his ancestral home. Leo however maintains his familial connections which ultimately leads to a feud that threatens to explode.
The film confronts the age-old morality tale about challenging the cycle of violence and crime that plagues Calabrian mafia culture. Winner of 9 Italian Academy Awards including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay, this is a gripping thriller akin to Matteo Garrone’s 2008 film Gomorrah.
October 10: Dogs of Democracy & Gaucho del Norte
Australia, 2016, 58 min. Dir. Mary Zourazi (Dogs of Democracy)
Chile, 2015, 57 min. Dir. Andres Caballero (Gaucho del Norte)
Ronin Film Docos
Ronin Films is a distribution company founded by Andrew Pike in 1974. It has championed the work of many independent productions and directors such as Jane Campion, Baz Luhrmann and Tracey Moffat. To pay homage to Andrew and his commitment to independent film production we present two documentaries that Ronin Films distribute. In Dogs of Democracy (2016), filmmaker Australian Mary Zourazi is surprised to find numerous stray dogs living on the streets of Athens. For her, Greece had become the ‘stray dog of Europe’ and the dogs become a symbol of hope and resistance during the economic crisis of 2016.
Gaucho del Norte (2015) is the story of Eraldo Pacheco, a Patagonian sheepherder recruited to work in Idaho, USA. Over a two year period, he faces the ups and downs of living in isolation, away from his family.
November 8: The Party
UK, 2017, b&w, 71 min. Dir: Sally Potter
UK Contemporary Satire
Political satire in the time of Brexit; the latest film by British director Sally Potter (Orlando, 1992) gathers an A-class ensemble including Kristen Scott-Thomas, Patricia Clarkson, Emily Mortimer and Timothy Spall, gathering to celebrate their friend’s new Ministerial appointment. Shot during the time of the Brexit crisis, the film becomes a microcosm of Britain’s cultural anxieties and political fault-lines as well as a gauge of the temperature of feminist thought in 2017.
Featuring a catty friend, a jittery coke-snorting banker, emasculated husbands and strong women, the dinner party serves as a classic comedy setting for hilarious entertainment.
December 13: Les Girls
USA, 1957, 114 min. Dir: George Cukor for MGM Pictures; music by Cole Porter
While the war drama Bridge Over the River Kwai took out the Best Film Award at the 1958 Oscars, the MGM musical Les Girls provided a good deal more than entertainment via singing and dancing. When dancer Sybil Wren (Kay Kendall) publishes a memoir about her time in the Les Girls dance troupe, she incites the wrath of her former peers, and a lawsuit which brings all three parties to court. The film presents their points of view via a ‘Rashamon-style’ narrative technique, using flashbacks. The NY Times Movie Review highly praised its cast of ‘exquisite’ performers, sleek script and excellent Cole Porter music.
Australian born Orry-Kelly won the Oscar for best costume design that year. It is a thought provoking film, raising issues around sexploitation in the theatre world which are startlingly pertinent fifty years on.