MIFF Day 12 - 4th August 2002

Today I decided to watch all documentaries as there were three interesting looking ones screening at the same venue. Before that I went to a forum called The New Media Myth which was an interesting discussion about new techniques to present narrative stories, but I was still a bit tired from last night so I couldn't give it my full attention.

The first documentary I saw today was called The Backyard which examined the various backyard wrestling contests held in the US by amateurs every weekend.

A lot of it was very violent as some contests used barbed wire baseball bats, fluro tubes and bricks wrapped in barbed wire to hit people with, but people seemed to laugh more at the parts where people were being hit - this holds with what Mel Brooks once said:
"Tragedy is when I cut my finger.
Comedy is when you fall into an open sewer and die."

Apart from the wrestling scenes, what made this doco so interesting where the characters it showed including the two brothers from Arizona and their '3 stages of hell' match which they did with the help of their mother (for an audience of about 3 people), the contestants in another backyard league - ADD Dave, The Lizard and Big Mac with Spork and the hardcore backyard wrestling enthusiasts who use flaming cactus in their bouts.

What was also interesting was the league where the parents supported their kids as it was something fun for them to do on the weekend and conversly the concerned mother who turned up at an impromptu match in a public park and tried to stop the fight.

Even though it had all the violent wrestling scenes in it, this doco was actually one of the most entertaining I have seen at the festival which is strange as I am normally not into wrestling.

On a completely different note was the next doco Jame's Ellroy's Feast of Death which was a very grim and serious documentary about the famous author and some of the bigger cases he has been involved in.

It did have some moments of humour, mainly due to the author himself but there where also some graphic depictions of the crimes and some awful photos of the murder victims.

What I did like about it was that Ellroy was left to tell his own story as he has a very interesting voice and the parts he read from his books where excellent.

There were some very creepy scenes of the author and a detective driving around spotlighting important houses and scenes that have been made famous in his books which proves that just imagining something from a description can be much worse than actually seeing it.

The scenes with the Los Angeles Homicide Squad also gave some insight into the world that the author was describing and where a valueable addition to the doco.

I would recommend this doco to people who are interested in the crime genre even if they hadn't read any of the books by the author as it is very compelling.

On the second time up the stairs to line up again I was begining to curse the long stairwells at Greater Union as my feet where hurting today. At least I didn't have to wait long in the line to come back in again.

An Australian short called Desperate Deeds was next in which a young man who is only interested in his goldfish is forced by his father to go and do something he doesn't want to do to try and get more business for their company. A short and sharp film about the lengths some people will go to in hard times.

Ending the night on a much lighter note was the doco Mau Mau Sex Sex about early exploitation filmakers in the US. This film was a crack up mainly due to the over the top scenes shown selected from their many movies.

The two men the documentary covered where also interesting too as they were colourful characters and had many amusing stories to tell. However I thought the later part of the doco got a bit slow as it just covered them being old which was a bit boring.

What I really liked about the doco was how they explained how they used their carnival experience to 'scam' the audience and the great stories such as the women in their first 'gore' film having trouble as they couldn't stop giggling.

It also got me interested in seeing if I could track down some of the early films they made as they would be very funny due to their over the top nature.