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The big, bigger & biggest of Adelaide Film Fest

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To explore the vast expanse of the screen’s possibilities is why film festivals exist. Known as one of the boldest celebrations of cinema in Australia, Adelaide Film Festival certainly delivers on that front.

The 2015 program features curious treats like an autobiography told entirely in shoes, a curated taste of the inventive “vertical cinema” movement, and a world-first screening of cult staple Bad Boy Bubby, presented with “3D” binaural sound.

If size matters to you, Adelaide Film Fest has some of the grandest, most epic films currently stunning audiences on the international festival circuit. For those who consider themselves “cinephiles”, these are the quintessential festival experiences of ADLFF 2015.

Big: Eisenstein in Guanajuato

Official Trailer – Eisenstein in Guanajuato from Submarine on Vimeo.

Two iconic directors equal screen worship squared in Eisenstein in Guanajuato: Peter Greenaway’s outrageous imagining of the 10 days that shook Sergei Eisenstein. Having transformed the art and science of cinema in Soviet Russia, film-and-trouble-maker Eisenstein leaves the motherland for warmer Mexican climes. There he experiences an awakening of a very different kind.

As he is wont, Greenaway (The Cook, the Thief, His Wife & Her Lover) serves up exuberant sex and death in this profanely post-modern riff on the biopic epidemic currently sweeping screens. Punctuated by stunning landscapes and wrought performances, this trip is equal parts silly, sinister and salacious.

Buy the ticket, take the ride, if you like film history, Baroque masters, queer cinema, or the Día de Muertos aesthetic.

Bigger: Breathe Umphefumlo

Operatic in all senses, director Mark Dornford-May’s Breathe Umphefumlo is Puccini’s La Bohème transported to contemporary South Africa. Pure-hearted Mimi and idealistic Lungelo pursue a star-crossed love affair, performing vocals in the Xhosa language while thumping kettledrums and vivacious marimbas invigorate Puccini’s timeless score.

Not only is the entertainment factor sky-high, but Breathe Umphefumlo also explores a pertinent real-world issue still affecting South Africa: the tragic affliction of tuberculosis. Cape Town suffers from one of the world’s worst TB-related death tolls, which Dornford-May draws noble attention to in his ambitious repositioning. Documentary-style shots of the village Khayelitsha add gravitas to this striking cinematic venture from this globally lauded director.

Breathe Umphefumlo is for fans of opera, musicals, Afrobeat and melodrama. Moulin Rouge with a world music twist.

Biggest: Arabian Nights: Volumes I, II, III.

It doesn’t get more grandiose than this. Three sprawling volumes of ancient tales take on lives of their own in Arabian Nights. Screened back-to-back in an epic marathon, this six-hour anthology scored the Sydney Film Prize in June, extolled for its impressive scale and, more importantly, engrossing narrative.

Set in contemporary Portugal, the films depict a country in crisis through vignettes featuring exploding whales, criminal escapees, mermaids, prostitutes, and the inebriating chorus of chaffinches. Fables ebb and flow on Arabian Nights’ relentless tide, bestowing bragging rights upon the film buffs who experience all three enthralling instalments.

Think: the cinematic equivalent of Roman Tragedies (Adelaide Festival, 2014), or Nymphomaniac with added puppies.

Traverse the world from your cinema seat at Adelaide Film Festival. Peruse the full program here


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