Antenna Documentary Film Festival Teases 2016 Program

Scott Wallace
24th Aug 2016

The Antenna Documentary Film Festival has unveiled a taste of the 2016 program, showcasing a fascinating mix of twelve of the diverse and rich titles set to tantalise audiences when it returns Tuesday 11 - Sunday 16 October at Palace Cinemas Paddington.

One highlight of the 2016 program for cinephiles is sure to be a rare screening of Iranian filmmaker Abbas Kiarostami's 1990 masterpiece Close-Up. The film - a bold and influential mix of documentary and drama - using areal-life event—the arrest of a young man on charges that he fraudulently impersonated the well-known filmmaker Mohsen Makhmalbaf—as the basis for a multilayered investigation into cinema, identity, artistic creation, and existence, in which the real people from the case play themselves - is one of the masterpieces of world cinema, and sadly very hard to come by. The screening will celebrate the life of the brilliant Kiarostami, who passed away in July this year.

The remainder of the twelve films revealed range from an exposé into a contaminated, nuclear city hidden deep inside Russia, to insects as the solution to world hunger, to a heart-warming family road movie searching for lost love. Antenna’s 2016 program is set to captivate and illuminate with remarkable, high-calibre cinematic storytelling.

Festival Director, David Rokach said “We have watched an incredible amount of films from around the world and have selected an exceptionally strong line-up that represents the diversity of creative nonfiction cinema today”.

The Festival opens with Jose Villalobos’ emotional portrait of a man stuck between two worlds. The Charro of Toluquilla tells the story of Jaime Garcia—a mariachi singer and braggart who lives his life like a chauvinistic vintage Mexican movie character, but with one difference: he is HIV-positive. Jose Villalobos will be a guest of the Festival to introduce his moving film at Opening Night.

Closing the Festival is a heart-warming family road movie, A Present from the Past. The film follows a father-daughter trip to Rome, documented through hidden cameras, to find a long lost love with only a three-decades-old address.

Mother with a Gun is an Australian film having its World Premiere at the Festival and follows Shelley Rubin, leader of the Jewish Defense League. Once America’s most active terrorist organisation, the JDL, aims to prevent another Holocaust by any means necessary. Here, the threat of genocide lingers and preventative violence is justified. The filmmakers have been granted privileged access to Rubin, untangling her past and present to expose this unusual pathway to extremism.

The explosive documentary City 40 sounds like a dystopian sci-fi story: residents of a walled town enjoy a high standard of living in a chilling pact that sees them growing sicker by the day from radiation poisoning. Except it’s a reality, occurring in City 40 – a Russian town and home to a stockpile of nuclear materials.

A film set to have audiences squirming in their seats is Bugs, which follows two adventurous food researchers from René Redzepi's (NOMA) experimental Nordic Food Lab, exploring the culinary value and environmental benefits of eating insects - said to be the future of food.

Another film that delves into the impact humans are having on the environment is The Islands and the Whales. Set in the Faroe Islands in the North Atlantic where the isolated community has hunted seabirds and whales for generations, the community wonders how long this tradition can last as the global environmental crisis reaches their shores. To make matters worse the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society parachutes in with Pamela Anderson in tow, bringing a well-intentioned yet culturally imperialist critique of the locals’ way of life.

Offering a new angle on a well-known political drama Bobby Sands: 66 Days utilises reconstructions, archival material and key interviews to weave together a riveting exposition of the 1981 Maze Prison hunger strike in Ireland. Cinefiles will remember the story of Bobby Sands from Michael Fassbender’s Oscar nominated role in Hunger, however this documentary powerfully and personally expands on the story using excerpts from Sands’ own evocative prison diary.

Other films announced include: Troublemakers: The Story Of Land Art, Gary Numan: Android in La La Land, Starless Dreams and Behemoth by the acclaimed Chinese filmmaker Zhao Liang.

With a rich and diverse program that challenges conceptions and conventions of the world around us, Antenna Documentary Film Festival will once again be screening the very best in non-fiction cinema from Australia and around the world, together with the Antenna DocTalk series, retrospective program, special events and international guests.

The 2016 program will be announced on Tuesday 06 September, 2016. For more information, head to the Antenna Festival website, and keep an eye on the Sydney Scoop calendar for festival highlights.

Tickets will cost $19.50 for a general adult ticket, or $16 for a concession ticket, and there are multi-film passes available for $85 (5 films) or $155 (10 films).