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10 Best Films at Antenna Documentary Festival 2014

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by Jasmine Crittenden (subscribe)
Sydney-based travel and arts writer www.jasminecrittenden.net
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A handpicked selection of this year's must-see films
Now in its fourth year, the Antenna Documentary Festival is set to present its biggest programme yet. Between October 14 and 19, thirty-five feature-length documentaries from twenty nations will screen at various Sydney venues. There'll also be talks, workshops, special guests and the announcement of the SBS Award for Best International Documentary. Here are ten films that you should definitely catch, be it through hell or high-water.

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Bugarach


BUGARACH

According to Mayan prophecy, doomsday was supposed to hit on December 21, 2012. And only one place was marked for survival: a remote village in the Pyrenees foothills by the name of Bugarach. As the apocalypse drew near, thousands of people, and an accompanying horde of journalists, flocked there, seeking refuge (or a story). So did documentary makers Ventura Durall, Salvador Sunyer and Sergi Cameron. Bugarach is a product of their filming: an absurd black comedy about fear, optimism and the end of the world. It's the opening night pick, screening at Paddington's Chauvel at 8pm, with complimentary drinks happening from 7pm.

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Regarding Susan Sontag


REGARDING SUSAN SONTAG

Whether contemplating terrorism, illness, gender, human rights or photography, Susan Sontag was one of the finest and most original thinkers of the 20th century. Drawing on essays, novels, letters and diaries, this riveting documentary, directed by Nancy Kates, captures her life story. Tickets are selling fast for its one and only screening, scheduled for 7pm, Friday, October 17, at the Chauvel.

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The 50 Year Argument


THE 50 YEAR ARGUMENT

Noam Chomsky, Gore Vidal and Susan Sontag are just a few of the intellectual greats interviewed in this celebration of a half-century of the New York Review of Books. Directed by Martin Scorsese in collaboration with David Tedeschi, it's a poignant and fascinating exploration of a legendary publication, which has been the life mission of editor Robert Silvers, now 84. Catch The 50 Year Argument on Saturday, October 18 at 2pm.

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Virunga


VIRUNGA

This documentary takes us into the wilds of the UNESCO-listed Virunga National Park, deep in the Congo. It is there that the survival of the world's only remaining mountain gorilla population depends on the compassion and determination of a tiny team of park rangers, who must stand up against corporate disinterest, oil-mongering and civil unrest. Virunga will screen at the Chauvel on Saturday, October 18, at 6pm.

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Art and Craft


ART AND CRAFT

Nonfics lauded Art and Craft as 'one of the delightfully unusual stories on film this year.' It's a portrait of eccentric, gentle-mannered art forger Mark Landis, who, curiously, poses as a philanthropist, in order to give away his counterfeits, rather than profiting from them. Directed by Jennifer Grausman and Sam Cullman, this film challenges conventional notions of theft, truth and obsession. See it at the Chauvel on Saturday, October 18, at 7.45pm.

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Slums: Cities of Tomorrow


SLUMS: CITIES OF TOMORROW

One in six individuals on the planet lives in a slum. Those who exist outside are quick to form judgements about what this involves. So filmmaker Jean-Nicolas Orhon takes a journey across four countries (India, Morocco, France and the US), to find out exactly what's happening at ground level. Slums: Cities of Tomorrow will show on Sunday, October 19, at 1:30pm.

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Rules of the Game


RULES OF THE GAME

Rules of the Game travels to Antenna after a well-received screening at Cannes. It is a thoughtful and thought-provoking portrait of a group of young job seekers, based in northern France, who are mentored at an employment agency. With sensitivity and a sense of humour, Husband-and-wife team Claudine Bories and Patrice Chagnard explore the tensions between today's disillusioned youth and 'the system'. This film will show on Saturday, October 18, at 6:30pm.

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Sons and Mothers


SONS AND MOTHERS (Q & A)

Seven male performers with a disability set out to perform a theatrical 'love letter' to their mothers. Filmmaker Christopher Houghton follows the troupe, from their very first rehearsal to opening night at the Adelaide Fringe Festival. Sons and Mothers will screen on Sunday, October 19, at 5pm.

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The Maysles Brothers


MAYSLES BROTHERS RETROSPECTIVE

It's difficult to imagine what today's documentary scene would look like without the influence of the Maysles Brothers. This retrospective includes three classics: Grey Gardens (Saturday, October 18 at 2:15pm), Salesman (Sunday, October 19 at 12pm) and Gimme Shelter (Thursday, October 16 at 8pm). The latter, generally considered history's greatest rock film, captures the Rolling Stones' renowned 1969 tour. A Q & A with Stones ex-manager Sam Cutler (who appears in the documentary) will follow the screening.

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Choose Your Own Documentary


CHOOSE YOUR OWN DOCUMENTARY

This live show makes its Australian debut at Antenna. The action starts when a diary slips out of an old book. You then follow filmmaker Nathan Penlington and his team (made up of festival guests), as he responds. The fun bit is that you (and the rest of the audience) do all the decision-making via remote control. Be a part of Choose Your Own Documentary at Giant Dwarf at 7pm on either Wednesday, October 15 or Saturday, October 18.
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Why? 35 documentaries from 20 nations
When: Tuesday, October 14-Monday, October 19
Where: Chauvel and Palace Cinemas, Paddington; Giant Dwarf; AFTRS
Cost: Various
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