Kino # 29 ‘Shoot First Ask Questions Latter’
Frasier Street Studios, Kensington St Chippendale.
10th August 2009
As I walk along a brightly lit lane to my appointment with the unknown, I sense that due to the locale, tonight will not be your normal gathering of cinephiles and filmmakers. Instead the venue entrance looks like the gathering for a secret rave. I am greeted at the door by the ever affable Catherine who welcomes me into the space akin to that of a small artists studio. She shows me where the drink and food are and I get myself a beer and a yummy nutella and cheese crepe made by the lovely Clare and Alex. I catch up with some friends and then settle down on a cushion to watch the 17 films that grace the screen.
I ask Artistic Director Mathieu Ravier, what it is that makes Kino Sydney special: “The appeal lies in a combination of factors: the utter unpredictability of the screenings, the blurring of the boundaries between the artists and the audience, and the relaxed, informal nature of the proceedings. I think the popularity of Kino points to an untapped demand in Sydney for street-level cultural events and gatherings.” He elaborates adding that “Kino Sydney is part of an international network born in Montréal in 1999. It is now a global movement, with cells in Canada, the US, France, Germany, the UK, South Africa and now Australia. Its motto is “Do well with nothing, do better with little and do it now!” and started in Sydney in 2006.” Looking around the packed space it is surprising to think of a time when Kino did not exist. Matt adds “When we started out we were lucky if 20 people turned up (we didn’t have many friends back then). Today we get a minimum of 100 or 150 on a good night. The event is open to both established filmmakers who come and take part as an antidote, perhaps, to the rigours and rigidity of making ambitious professional work. We have award-winning short filmmakers and television producers who come to try out new ideas. And then there are people who do it for fun, as a way to express themselves, some of whom had never laid hands on a camera before. Filmmakers such as Victoria Waghorn, Kate Taylor and Jack Feldstein regularly place films made originally for Kino Sydney into festivals both in Australia and around the world including the prestigious Rotterdam International Film Festival.”
Some film nights can be a bit hit and miss but Kino regularly hits the bullseye with it’s fun and non pretentious approach to screenings. Moved from the Sydney Trapeze School to its new central location of Fraser Studios in Chippendale, the fun filled evening provides an open bar of Coopers beer, Jameson whiskey, grub and giveaways- all for the recession happy price of $15 on the door. This evenings films include an animated film based on an HP Lovecraft tale, a dig at Tarantino, an animated music ballad, a grindhouse tribute, video montage, Hamlet monologue, alternative “Xanadu” music video with rollerblades, a film about corners, “Ragnarock” music video for the band “False Morales”, Bar Jokes Part 4, a Life in Liquor and shadows. There are 2 virgin filmmakers in the house tonight and host and Managing Director Marianne Alla makes them feel relaxed as they introduce their films (which every film maker is encouraged to do). Christoph asks the audience for the “highest level of understanding and compassion” as he introduces his film about Violent Racoons which is an amusing play on words. This entry was a challenge film and challenges are common at Kino. If it is more than the required running length or does not feature the Kino logo or Kino session (this was the 29th Kino, hence every film must have Kino#29 in the end credits) then every filmmaker must pay a forfeit, as nominated by the audience. Some people volunteer for a challenge although the audience bays for blood with titles such as “Swine Flu”, “Octopus Western”, “Don’t Drop the Soap”, “Kung Fu Omlette” and “Moustaches Go Wild”. Our filmmakers must rise to the task for “Kino #30” or forever be shamed in the annals of Kino history.
I conclude the evening by asking Matt what the best and worst films he has seen were: “The best film I saw was made by prolific local filmmakers, the Jensen-Kohl brothers. They made the most of the format with a cheeky film about a Sydney filmmaker struggling to finish his Kino video in time for the screening. In the final minutes, the film switched seamlessly into a live feed of the filmmaker as he ran up onto the stage, DVD in hand, coming to face to face with a projected image of himself looped to infinity. It was a great comment on the possibilities a format like Kino offers, halfway between video and live performance, spontaneous and open to surprises. The worst I’ve seen was meant I think as a protest against Kino’s no pre-selection rule. It consisted in a single static shot: a close up of a clock in real time as it counted down seven long minutes to midnight. I think the filmmakers’ plan backfired though, as the crowd, once they caught on to what was happening, got totally into it. First booing and heckling, then laughing and cheering, finally counting down the seconds New Years Eve style only to break out into wild applause at the end. It sparked a great debate about freedom of expression and the need for an entirely open showcase, unrestrained by selection criteria or competition.”
And with that I leave to go home, inspired to perhaps make my own film for the next evening.
You will love this if: you enjoy having a drink with friends, aspire to make films or are curious about what creative people are up to in your city.
You will hate this if: you’ve not been and have yet to pass judgement!
For more information on Kino and on how to screen a film at the event visit: http://www.kinosydney.com/. The next Kino is Monday 5th October.