In the realm of Oscar race time, it’s clear that a slighter Sutherland woman isn’t enough to get our hearts dancing. Yet Natalie Portman, who was once nominated for “Black Swan”, makes a legitimate case that she’s up for the gong for “Reality Bites” in Sydney next month.
The film, which won the Oscar for “Best Film” this year, by the way, was directed by Mumford and Sons’ Alexis Petridis, and debuted at the Cannes Film Festival. The song, which she recorded, produced and co-wrote, just had a R. Kelly remix debut on the UK charts at No. 79. All told, the song not only has Ed Sheeran beating off to defeat Meghan Trainor (this one went straight to No. 1) in the top 1, but it knocked Liam Hemsworth off the top spot in the UK charts after being released exclusively on Spotify.
It is, however, the “Reality Bites” cinema festival that makes me nervous. First, I knew it was going to be a big and very loud and uncool event. Films such as “The Great Gatsby”, “Mad Max: Fury Road” and “Coco” (another film I had wondered about) have already been a success at those festivals. Nor is it clear why director Philippa Goslett wants me to come back in another year. Indeed, she didn’t even bother with this press conference, which means she’s probably running out of words in which to describe what’s happening in Sydney at the moment.
Sure, things aren’t going so well in the city for Sydneysiders of colour. Yet without mentioning the affair between newly appointed mayor Clover Moore and dancer Jane Kim O’Keeffe, Goslett seems intent on tying us all down with a little more emotional fuel.
This is a brave thing to do, of course. This isn’t about film making, or about the kind of movies that we’ll see. These are the stories that matter, as apparently some small but sufficiently influential group in the corporate centre have decided it is more important than Sydney’s beloved cricket.
If Goslett wants to proceed with the festival, which costs $2.6 million to host, her preferred choice is Sophie Newmarch, the brains behind the Sydney Forum for the arts. This is the festival’s patron; it’s a name that sounds like it came from a well-known place: Goethe’s centre, in Frankfurt. This is so in keeping with the festival’s home for the past 50 years, however, it’s considered almost blasphemy to call the Sydney Forum “the Sydney Forum”.
It’s high time, perhaps, to give Newmarch her due. Yes, she may have ruled the boards at the Sydney Forum for most of its early years, but so do the likes of Steven Spielberg and Will Smith. And the festival is fiercely independent of government, with no help from either the PM’s office or the beleaguered film industry. Some may enjoy this. None of us do. Whatever happens in the coming weeks, we can only hope that Newmarch, in her bid to continue running the forum and the festival, will uphold that institutional equilibrium.