Cockatoo Film Festival: Family Ties

The Cockatoo Island Film Festival last weekend was a wonderful display of creative talent and after my first experience there I will urge everyone to go if they have the chance. I chose to see Family Ties because there were 9 short films in one seating and they all looked pretty good. Cockatoo Island is an island that wills you to explore it and as I walked past a giant rusted-through crane to an old warehouse complete with faded roller-door entrance titled ‘Smoking’, I was slightly hesitant to enter, but fortunately I did. I was pleasantly surprised with the carpeted floors and an old fashioned bag of popcorn awaiting me inside.

The films I saw were heartfelt and moving, all but Alethea Jones’ Lemonade Stand, which had the theatre in stitches with its refreshing Aussie humour. While the films were all fantastic, and I would not be able to pick a favourite, my top three were La Poire Vagabond by Katrina Channells, Little Hands by Claire McCarthy and Love-Heart Baby by Shalom Almond.

La Poire Vagabond shows a seemingly perfect relationship with a young woman, Avril, and her brother as they run their own café, until the return of their estranged mother. Then the cracks begin to show. It’s Avril’s dream to go to France, seen in the quirky interior of the coffee shop, however she feels she has to care for her brother. Her mother’s return means that she has to learn to forgive and to trust, and realize she can’t always be in control.

Little Hands tells the story of Australian tourist Mia’s trip to her hometown of Mostar in war-torn Herzegovina. It has stunning and confronting real images of the war in the 1990’s, gluing you to the screen. Mia’s journey is both heartbreaking and uplifting as she visits and volunteers at an orphanage in her old neighbourhood. Dinka Bonelle Dzubur’s performance as Mia is wonderful and I can tell that we will see her in the future.

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I’m not sure why I have such little faith in documentaries but when Love-Heart Baby came on, I cringed a little inside with hopes that it wouldn’t be too tacky. However, I found that her bluntly honest attitude towards the film was so refreshing. Her documentary took us through the struggles she faced in having her first child; Shalom has a hereditary eye disease that she could potentially pass onto her child, as her mother did to her. In this, we see the guilt her mother holds and the confronting questions that arise when altering DNA through IVF. This film was commissioned by ABC2 and I sincerely hope to see more from her soon!

Guest Blogger: Emma, 3rd Year Student at the University of Wollongong, Co-Op Member since 2010, Social Media Intern

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