Sep 042012


The Sydney Underground Film Festival is almost upon us! The festival is taking place September 6-9 at The Factory Theatre in Marrickville. The full programme can be viewed here and information about how to buy tickets can be found here.

I’ve already previewed three films (including the opening and closing nights) here – in this preview I take a look of two of the documentary films showing at the festival, Wikileaks – Secrets & Lies and Hit So Hard. Reviews after the jump!

Wikileaks: Secrets & Lies (Patrick Forbes, 2011)


It would be hard to listen to the news these days and not hear mention of Wikileaks or founder Julian Assange. Wikileaks: Secrets and Lies wraps up much of the events from the group’s start to the releasing of a significant volume of war-related classified material to the public.  If you’ve followed the news closely, it is likely that you’ll be familiar with many of the events which are documented in the film. However, if you’re like me and only pay limited attention to the news, you are likely to find this informative and quite shocking.

What makes the film worth watching is the interviews with Assange himself. He is a curious and quite elusive creature (especially of late as he is trying to avoid being expedited to Sweden in relation to rape allegations), so hearing about his beliefs and reasoning behind Wikileaks’ actions in his own words was quite interesting. The film-makers have tried to present a balanced view of Wikileaks, so as well as hearing the Wikileaks line, we also hear from journalists and government officials who have issues with the leaking of the classified material and/or the way it was leaked. The logistics behind the coordinated timing of the information release across multiple time-zones was like something out of a spy novel.


Hit So Hard (P. David Ebersole, 2011)


If you grew up in the 90s, or listened to/listen to 90s grunge and punk rock, then I think you’ll find this documentary very interesting. This documentary follows a very familiar rise-and-fall trajectory, but the subject is so fascinating that it doesn’t matter. I was engaged throughout and felt like I’d been given a rare personal insight into the 90s rock n roll lifestyle.

The documentary is about former Hole drummer Patty Schemel and her life in the music industry – a lifestyle which could have easily taken her life, like it did that of fellow Hole band-member Melissa Auf der Maur, and of course Kurt Cobain, who became a close friend of Patty’s when during her time in the band. The film documents Scheml’s early influences, her experience as a female drummer in the punk scene, and her time with Hole. It tells of her battle with drugs and her struggle to get out and build a new life.

Schemel really holds nothing back here, and it was obvious that she had battled many demons during her time with the band. Considering what she went through, it says a lot that her passion for music is still so strong, even without the drugs. It was also extremely interesting (and quite sad) to see home-video footage of Patty and the Cobain family. Courtney Love joking on camera to a tiny baby Frances that she thought Daddy was dead but he’d just gone out, really broke my heart.

Well worth watching, especially for fans of that era of music. Straight after I finished watching it I put on some Nirvana.