For the third year, the Australian Film Commission's IndiVision program partnered with the 2008 Sydney Film Festival to present Independent Focus, a selection of outstanding films and filmmakers from the world of international independent and low-budget cinema.
These films have been made with alternative production models, including low budgets, small crews, short shoots and new formats, producing vivid performances and bold visions.
The films this year included two from the stable of Warp X, a UK start-up digital 'studio' specialising in low-budget features - Olly Blackburn's thriller Donkey Punch and Chris Waite's hilarious A Complete History of My Sexual Failures, which both premiered at Sundance 2008. Warp X producer Robin Gutch will attend as a guest of IndiVision and the festival.
Also from this year's Sundance crop was Anvil! The Story of Anvil, about two ageing heavy metal rockers - "No other film that I saw at Sundance brought me to tears as much as Anvil!... a hilarious and moving tribute to two 50-year-old guys who won't give up on their dream." (Anthony Kaufman, Wall Street Journal).
Another highlight was the striking and fast paced Jerusalema from South Africa, which was selected for this year's Berlin Film Festival. "A propulsive, glossy, Johannesburg-set actioner charting the rise of an ambitious ne'er-do-well a la Scarface, City of God and virtually every other rags-to-riches-to-ruins underworld epic. Jerusalema overcomes derivative genre cliches and daunting length to punch home its crime-doesn't-pay message on chutzpah alone." (Variety)
The Independent Focus films also included the unusual and mysterious Helen from the UK, the moving Little Moth from China, and the powerful and much-awarded The Class from Estonia.
For full details of films which screened at the Sydney Film Festival including synopsis, cast, crew, budget, screening time, date and venue, please see PDF at the bottom of this page.
Independent Focus Industry Breakfast
As part of the Independent Focus program, IndiVision and the festival hosted an industry breakfast with Australian-born US-based producer Rebecca Yeldham.
Yeldham is the producer of The Kite Runner, nominated for two Golden Globes, and Executive Producer of the Oscar-winning The Motorcycle Diaries by director Walter Salles. She produced Salles' feature Linha de Passe which was screened in competition at Cannes this year, and, with Francis Ford Coppola, will produce Salles' next film, based on the Jack Kerouac novel, On The Road.
Yeldham was Senior Vice President, Production at FilmFour (the film division of the British broadcaster Channel 4) and ran its US production wing; and was Senior Programmer of the Sundance Film Festival (1996-2001) overseeing world cinema programming and selecting dramatic and documentary features for the festival. She also served as Associate Director of the Sundance Institute's International Programs organizing initiatives to support screenwriters, producers and directors throughout the world. Yeldham currently serves on IFP/LA's Executive Board. She has recently produced Anvil! The Story of Anvil, screening in the festival as part of the Independent Focus programme.
Rebecca Yeldham spoke at the breakfast about latest trends in international independent filmmaking.