Now in its 20th year, Revelation Perth Film Festival returns July 5th – 18th with an amazing line up of films and events to cinemas and venues across the city. And good news for you music fans with organisers having paid particular attention to all things music.
From films about icons like M.I.A. and Betty Davis, to docu-essays on the music’s potential to act as social and political critique and portraits of punk/industrial desert happening, and even sound art and live music, Revelation is a music lover’s paradise in film festival form.
With so many musical delights to chose from, we thought we should help you plan your journey through the program and list the top 10 music films and music events of the Revelation Perth Film Festival.
If you’re going to be an uber fan of anybody, you could do a lot worse than choosing Iggy Pop. Variously described as the godfather of punk and/or chewed up piece of leather, Iggy, or Mr Pop as I like to call him, is one of the most iconic artists to emerge from the 20th century. But this film isn’t about Iggy, rather it’s about one of his most feverish and devoted fans. Getting full access to their subject, this doco is an unflinching look at fandom, its joys and its pitfalls.
Revelation Music Days
As I said above, this isn’t your regular every day film festival, with the program also including some awesome music events, chief among them the Revelation Music Days. With a lineup featuring Alexander Hacke (Einsturzende Neubauten) & Danielle Picciotto (Crime & the City Solution) Amyl & the Sniffers and Rackett, the program will take over the stages of the Rosemount Hotel, Mojo’s and the Perth Backlot over 6 nights with a full program here.
While we all remember her as the enigmatic and beautiful singer from The Velvet Underground (or rather the singer on one of their best albums), by the late ’80s Nico had fallen on hard times. Stripping away the nostalgia and the glamour of her stardom, this film is a parable of how fast fame came to fade and what happens when it does.
The capital of war torn Afganistan might not seem like the most likely place to find heavy metal bands. But as any good metal fans knows, metal finds a way. This film documents the insane story of Afganistan’s first and only metal band District Unknown, from their formation in Kabul to international recognition and eventual exile. With the director and producer in attendance for the screening as well, this film is unmissable for heavy metal fans and music fans alike. As even if the music isn’t to your taste (seek help), the struggle of the band speaks across genres to anyone who knows what it feels like to fight for self expression.
Telling the as yet untold story of the guerilla punk and industrial “happenings” that took place in the Southern California desert during the Reagan years, Desolation Center is a bit of a hidden gem in the Revelation Film Festival program. Featuring interviews and unseen footage of bands like Sonic Youth, The Minutemen, Swans, Einsturzende Neubauten, Red Kross and more, for those of you who like your music heavier than lead with a radical message to boot, this is the film for you.
No, this is not the ’90s feature film starring Ryan Phillipe and Neve Campbell. This is a documentary about the greatest club to ever exist, Studio 54. Now that might be a big call (The Loft, Danceteria, The Music Box and Berghain also having pretty good claims among others) but no other club ever had Bianca Jagger ride through naked on a white horse so I feel comfortable making it. A must see for any disco fans, or anyone with an interest in the New York club scene of the ’70s, this film promises to be one of the wildest rides on the program.
Semiconductor: Brilliant Noise/Black Rain
Now this isn’t exactly a music film or event, more of an art installation, but it has a soundtrack so I’m going to allow it (blows whistle). Two works by visual arts duo Semiconductor (Ruth Jarman and Joe Gerhardt), Brilliant Noise/Black Rain uses scientific data to create powerful and evocative depictions of the sun, solar particles and solar wind as image and sound. Expect a lot of white noise and an experience to remember.
Described by the film makers as a documentary essay about independence and music, Parallel Planes features the like of Michael Gira (Swans), Ian MacKaye (Minor Threath, Fugazi) Jamie Stewart (Xiu Xiu) Greg Saunier (Deerhoof) and more reflecting on the potential for social and political critique in music. Director Nicole Wegner travels across the US to speak to each artists, and the resulting film is part road movie part political and critical treatise which Wegner balances with true style.
Betty Davis: They Say I’m Different
Before there was Madonna, before Prince, before Beyonce and Rihanna, there was Betty Davis. Unafraid of ruffling feathers when it came expressing herself, Davis was one of the most influential voices in funk, dropping some of the most explicit and funky records of all time, including the one the film takes its name from. Fan and director Phil Cox seeks Davis out in this documentary which captures the power and charm of one of the most remarkable figures of the 20th, or any other century.
Matangi. Maya. M.I.A.
Last but so far from least, this documentary tells the incredible life story of M.I.A. Starting from her youth in Sri Lanka, to her flight to London with her mother and family after her father became associated with the Tamil Tigers, the film follows all the way through her global success as a genre defying popstar and the controversies that have followed in her wake. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Almost as much an expose on the reactionary nature of conservative society as it is a bio on one of the world’s most exciting artists and vital voices, this is one hell of a film and a must see for any fans who aren’t already aware of her stranger than fiction story.
Revelation Perth Film Festival runs from July 5th – 18th in cinemas and venues across the city. See the full schedule here.