A sneak preview on what's in store this year at Stronger Than Fiction, from the 2nd to the 5th of August at Palace Electric Cinema,Read More
We are finalising a fantastic lineup of the latest international docs for you. Save the Dates ! Stronger than Fiction Documentary Film Festival will take place this year at Palace Electric Cinemas, NewActon
Thursday August 2 to Sunday August 5
Encore Screenings - Friday August 10 and Saturday August 11
If you want to be the first to hear about free offers or if you would be interested in being part of the Stronger than Fiction team, email email@example.com
Review by Rod Freedman
Hope Road Dir: Tom Zubycki | Australia
Tom Zubrycki is one of Australia’s most consistent and prolific documentary filmmakers. Shooting over five years, Tom follows the quest of South Sudanese refugee and Sydney resident Zacharia to build a much-needed mudbrick school back in his remote home village. After an initial visit and a hero’s welcome, a new outbreak of fighting prevents him returning to Southern Sudan, but he won’t give up his dream.
He's enthusiastically supported by a small band of Aussies, including Janet, a TAFE teacher who accompanies him on an ambitious fund-raising walk from Brisbane to Sydney. The power of a film shot over such a long time is that we see the ups and downs of this refugee trying to make his way in a new country while remaining closely connected to the old one. Other personal complications arise to challenge Zac’s indomitable spirit. Especially heartening is the reception Zac gets along the way from school students and country communities. It’s a serious, funny and warm film.
By Joshua Paul
Fire At Sea Dir: Gianfranco Rosi | Italy
Fire At Sea hit me like a ton of bricks when I saw it. This quiet film is subtle and understated for most of its runtime - it is shot on Lampedusa, a small island off the coast of Sicily, where most people are fisherman. Periodically, the dependable routines of the villagers are interrupted by boats packed with refugees drifting off shore - a result of the European Migrant Crisis of 2015. Government officials work overtime to take in these boats; distributing blankets and food, administering health care where necessary, and moving the people into a refugee camp.
Primarily, we follow a young boy living on the island. His dad dives for fish. His mum cooks at home. He and his friend shoot slingshots at cacti. He tells the doctor he is more sick than he is. The doctor shows the cameraman pictures of some migrants he has treated. The local radio operator converses with drifting ships, and relays their position to the coastguard. The coastguard scrambles helicopters and speed boats.
Director Gianfranco Rosi shoots with such a careful eye for humanity. The film usually operates on long takes of beautiful stationary shots. A helicopter preparing for take off. A pier full of boats bobbing on the water. A radio console. Our young boy carving a slingshot. The film is strung together with these poignant vignettes that powerfully convey the raw and real circumstances people find themselves in. You can't help but feel empathy as the film unfolds.
At some point in the film, the juxtaposition just clicked with me - the simple stable lives of the villagers contrasted with the desperation and tragedy of the migrants' plight - all the frantic activity to bring survivors aboard while back at home a woman silently changes the sheets in the guest room.
Fire At Sea screened at Stronger Than Fiction in 2016. It is available on DVD or iTunes.
Review by Rod Freedman
McLaren Dir: Roger Donaldson | New Zealand
One for motorsport enthusiasts, this is the true story of Bruce McLaren, an unassuming, obsessed young Kiwi who became an unlikely star of the Formula 1 circuit in the 1960s, before dying in classic fashion at the age of 32 in a car crash. Directed by Roger Donaldson, the film takes us through his spectacular career through interviews with his wife and colleagues, using a wealth of photographs, footage and effective recreations.
This was a time when the top drivers were treated like movie stars. Yet the foundation of McLaren’s fame was an incredibly hard-working man and his team who designed and built their own cars, starting from his dad’s Auckland garage. Though not a fan of motor racing, I was swept along by the story and the character of McLaren as a modest Kiwi who became world famous.