I still remember reading about the police raids on The Family cult, and all the children who had been abused by them. This documentary digs into the whole sorry saga, unearthing a lot of surprising information. The tentacles that extended into government, community and health services explains a lot about how they were able to operate the way they did. There's inspiring stories and depressing stories, and the lack of convictions is frustrating. It's a horrifying film, not least because there are still people loyal to the evil woman behind all this abuse. But then again, Kenja still exists too. Depressing really.
Adama lives beneath a cliff, sheltered from the world. The elders forbid going beyond into the "World of Wind", bad things are there. But his brother Samba has been secretly making visits to the wider world, and has taken gold from the French to fight for them. When he leaves, Adama follows to get him back. It's a journey through an ugly bit of colonial history, from Africa to Verdun. Adama is a child and every adult tries to protect him, but he won't let go of his brother. His wilfulness is both admirable and frustrating. Blending magic realism with coming of age, and using a unique animation style, it all adds up to an engrossing and highly affecting story.
Lao Shi is a taxi driver. When a drunk passenger grabs him, he crashes into a motorcyclist. Because he takes the guy to hospital instead of waiting for an ambulance, his insurance won't pay and he has to cover the hospital bills. And so begins a descent into an ugly world. Nobody will help him sort things out with the police and the insurance company, everyone just cares about themselves. But this isn't a simple honest man against the system kind of film. Lao Shi isn't a noble hero, he's a stubborn jerk willing to tear his whole family down for the sake of his pride, lying to them and stealing from them to try and save face. In the end he's undone by his desire for justice. It's a dark mirror held up to modern China.
Olympic Nick: A Donutuary
A short documentary about Olympic Donuts, an icon of Footscray Station for decades. They even make sure to get a shot in of the dolphin jam nozzle. It's a sweet and short precis of the man behind the shop, his life, and how much the people of the neighbourhood appreciate him. As well as how he survived the reconstruction of the station, when all the other shops had to pack up and leave.
Aka Hipster, the film. From the lighting, framing, typography, etc this may as well be a Squarespace ad. Beards, tattoos, a baby named Huckleberry and distilled coffee all feed the joke. As someone in the film accurately describes it, it's Best In Show for coffee. Chronicling the journey of five baristas on their way to the US Barista Championships, it shows you how complex and rich the pursuit of the perfect cup of coffee can be. Sometimes ridiculous, but no more so than beer or wine obsessives, it's a hugely entertaining look into coffee culture, and the level to which the obsession can go. Not to mention how poorly paid it is compared to a sommelier, a point not lost on the baristas.