Review: Music in Motion at the Melbourne Women in Film Festival

5 March 2018

On Saturday I had the chance to attend the Music in Motion event as part of the Melbourne Women in Film Festival. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect going into this trio of short films, especially given I don’t normally get the chance to attend these kinds of festivals, but the vibrancy and earnest nature of the films was really refreshing.

We were lucky enough to have the filmmaker of the first short film, Wild Dances, present at the screening (along with her adorable son). Bina Bhattacharya talked about how she brought her lived experience of being different (in terms of both culture and race) to this film, and this really showed with how genuine the film felt. Telling the story of two out-of-place teens, one a closeted gay man and one the daughter of Ukranian immigrants, the film explores Australian minorities’ relationship with Eurovision. By showing how the pair bond over the glorious camp that is Eurovision, the film truly celebrates the best of Eurovision’s impact and creates a joyous viewing experience.

The second film, The Was, is a collaborative project between The Avalanches and Soda_Jerk. Artsy and psychedelic, this short described itself as ‘part music video, part experimental film’. By cutting and combining lots of pieces of old and beloved films and pop culture to accompany the wonderfully electronic/hi-fi styled soundtrack, this really created an immersive experience that completely enhanced the music to let it shine. Some of the favourite references included in The Was that I noticed included Heathers, The Royal Tenenbaums, Tupac, Divine, and Monster.

The last film of the night was by far the longest and the most emotional. One Night The Moon is a 2001 musical short film about a young girl who goes missing. A colonial couple living in rural Australia wakes up to find their daughter, Emily, has disappeared from her bedroom. When the police arrive to assist, the father refuses to have the Indigenous tracker help in finding his daughter to disastrous effect. Obviously, this movie shows the tragedy of racism as it shows the how both the child and the tracker’s sense identity are lost through prejudice. While the story itself was very moving, the combination of such a tragic story with the format of a musical felt a little jarring at times. However, there were some moments that were strongly improved by the addition of the music; namely, the prologue in particular was notable.

These three films highlighted the talent and unique expression of Australian women in film and how music can combine with cinema to create visceral storytelling.

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