AMERICAN ESSENTIALS FILM FESTIVAL
In his welcome introduction in the American Essentials Film Festival 2017 program, the artistic director Richard Sowada states that, “straddling styles as diverse as thriller, melodrama, adventure, comedy, coming of age, body horror, political documentary, symphonic documentary, classics, music, cult, art and biography there has to be something for everybody!” And, judging by the eclectic line-up, you’d have to agree with him. Many of the films are having their Australian premieres but the program also includes a few earlier masterpieces such as Woody Allen’s Annie Hall, Jed Johnson’s Andy Warhol’s Bad and Barbet Schroeder’s Barfly. The retrospective portion also includes two Mike Nichols screenings, The Graduate and Postcards From The Edge.
There are some wonderful documentaries, a number of which have a political bent, including All Governments Lie, The Bomb and American Anarchist. There’s also a fabulous doco on David Lynch that examines his early visual art career, David Lynch: The Art Life, coupled with a screening of Eraserhead - not to be missed - and a separate screening of Lynch’s Mulholland Drive. Of special interest to Australian audiences is Becoming Bond, a docudrama that attempts to answer the question, why was there only ever one George Lazenby Bond film?
And, it doesn’t stop there… with 28 titles spread over a period of two weeks, this is a wide-ranging festival. Recent dramatic features include the latest Todd Solondz film, Weiner-Dog, which follows an adorable sausage dog as it moves from family to family and person to person, the Holly Hunter starrer Strange Weather, Ewen McGregor’s directorial debut American Pastoral and, talking of Ewen McGregor, the new movie from Beginners director Mike Mills, 20th Century Women. These titles, and others, certainly back up the premise of the festival’s tag line, ‘The Freshest Films From The US Festival Circuit.’ Now in its second year, it looks as if this event has become a permanent fixture on the busy film festival circuit and that’s something to be welcomed. You can catch screenings across Australia at Palace Cinema venues.