I’m extremely pleased to announce the first film to be featured in our July 13 programme. When I saw Andrew Kavanagh’s short At The Formal several months ago, I immediately knew I wanted to share it with an audience. The film has played several prestigious film festivals at home in Kavanagh’s native Australia and abroad, including the Locarno Film Festival. Here’s what he had to say about the origin of the film, which I think will intrigue you:
At The Formal is a film that compares the modern ritual of a high school formal with the ancient rituals of historic civilisations, asking the question: Beneath the veil of civil ideals, have we really changed that much?
I find the connection between short films and poems useful in my filmmaking and this particular film was developed from a poem I wrote one night after witnessing the aftermath of a high school formal.
At first it was kind of magical. The girls and boys were resplendent in their evening wear. They held hands and seemed to be almost dancing down the footpath, but as the procession went on, things became more sinister. The faces became sweaty and grotesque, people were urinating in the gutter, fights broke out, I almost stepped on a young man vomiting in a hedge and the air was sickly sweet with the smell of premixed drinks.
To me these teenagers, dressed so elegantly and behaving so bestially, symbolised a conflict present within us all…and so I made a film about it.
As the film was adapted from a poem, I was searching for a simplicity and economy in the form, as well as a way to capture the dreamlike quality the experience had accrued in my memory. The long shot at the beginning makes sure the film is something to be experienced rather than immediately understood and the soundtrack speaks more of the jungle than a Formal event – which is where I thought I had found myself on the night I was privileged enough to stumble through this ritual, as a sober intruder.
The director’s next short, Men of the Earth is playing at the Worldwide Short Film Festival this week and I’m sure he’ll acquire many new fans at that screening. The two films are linked, both thematically and in the use of very long tracking shots which gradually draw the viewer into the ceremonial goings-on. I can’t wait to share this film with you, and to see where this young filmmaker goes next. Oh, and here’s the trailer, if you dare:
P.S. Sadly, this announcement means the super-cheap $5 tickets I was offering to our July 13 screening are now off-sale. But you can certainly get reasonably cheap $8 tickets still, or pay $10 at the door.