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AACTA Film Fest | Clem Bastow's Top Picks

Article by Melbourne Film Fest host Clem Bastow.


When I was six years old, I had a religious experience at confession. Specifically, that I was pretty sure God wouldn’t care if I had said “bum” that week (the best I could come up with, given that six-year-olds aren’t hugely prone to sinning), so I marched out of the booth never to return. To me, much of the Catholic experience has been coloured by never feeling like big-screen depictions have quite nailed my own understanding of Jesus Christ as a feminist, radical (and possibly even vegetarian) outsider, much less the powerful women in his life. It’s just one of the reasons I so loved Garth Davis’ exquisite MARY MAGDALENE, a sensitive and poetic exploration of Mary Magdalene’s role in Jesus’ ascendancy. I’m so excited to get a chance to see this beautiful film on the big screen once more.


The road movie is a genre that has, traditionally speaking, skewed male: there’s something about the wide open road that seems to have lent itself to blokes discovering themselves behind the wheel of a car. That’s why I’m looking forward to seeing JUST BETWEEN US, a plucky independent film that repositions the road movie as a site of female friendship. Directed by Christopher Kay and written by (and starring) Deanna Ortuso, the film piles Hannah (Ortuso) and pal Trixie (Joanne Nguyen) into a vintage Torana as they attempt to finish Hannah’s late sister’s big road trip.


One of the great sorrows, as a fan of unabashed genre filmmaking who is also Australian, is the apparent failure of imagination in local cinema: somewhere along the line (with a few notable exceptions), we stopped making science fiction movies. That’s why I’m pumped to see Luke Sparke’s OCCUPATION, in which the sort of slow-mo-explosion alien invasion disaster that usually befalls Anywheresville, USA finally happens on local soil. (And, keeping the cinematic ANZAC spirit alive, it stars bona fide sci-fi legend Temuera Morrison!) Is it likely to be the most cerebral experience you’ll have at the cinema this year? Of course not. Am I excited to see aliens blow some shit up within the Australian vernacular? HELL YEAH!


MARY MAGDALENEJUST BETWEEN US and OCCUPATION were screened in cinema in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane during September 2018 as part of AACTA Film Fest. The films will be available for members to watch online via AACTA TV until 11 October 2018.

For your complete guide to the feature films competing for a nomination for the 2018 AACTA Awards presented by Foxtel, download the Film Fest Guide here (6MB).


Follow Clem on Twitter and Instagram.


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