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SFF: Part IV

The Sydney Film Festival has now entered its second and final week, and with the city covered in advertising, I have yet to encounter a screening as busy as last year’s screening of Hero. The second week promises a lot more with Mean Creek, Rock School and one which I’m hoping what will be the biggest draw of the festival, Me and You and Everyone We Know.

The documentary is certainly a focus this year at the SFF with at least two strands of the program devoted to it while other docs pop up in more fictional dominated strands. It’s no surprise that a documentary was one of the two particular films that brought the first week to a dramatic close and I’m sure will linger in the minds of their audiences.

Samaritan Girl

Samaritan Girl is one of two new films from Korean director Ki-duk Kim being screened at this year’s festival, the other being 3-Iron. Having been a fan of Ki-duk Kim, Samaritan Girl lived up to and succeeded any expectations I had. Samaritan Gir explores the aftermath of the death of a teenager prostitute as her best friend honors her deceased friend by sleeping with her customers, and her father follows, seeking revenge.

Some elements of the story may be lost on a Western audience, however the mere intensity and passion that drives the story resonates throughout the film. The intensity cumulates as the father confronts those who have slept with his daughter, in one scene humiliating a man in front of his family. The strongest point of the film is the often beautiful and haunting cinematography, by Sang-Jae Sun and Sang-Jae Seong, as it follows the film’s tragic characters.


Murderball is screening the ‘This Sporting Life’ strand of the festival but is so much more then most other sport documentaries. Its focus is the game of Wheelchair rugby where quadriplegics smash into each other trying to get the ball, along with an intense on-court and off-court rivalry between the U.S. team and the Canadian team, lead by former U.S. star player Joe Soares. The documentary succeeds not only in its on-court coverage, but in the accessing the personal lives of the U.S. and Canadian team members.

There is tension as the two teams face each other on court but the audience is more touched by the personal stories of the players and their overcoming of their disability. Indeed the most interesting relationship develops not between Joe Soares and the new U.S. star player, but in the sequences between Joe and his son. Viewers will find this is not so much a documentary on the basics of the sport but a highly personal journey for all the players overcoming what life has dealt them.

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