King of Peking (Sam Voutas, USA, Australia, China, 2017)
In 1998, a travelling film projectionist, fighting his ex-wife for custody of their young son, is forced to move from rural China to Beijing. He first finds work as a janitor in a cinema, but his life changes when he discovers recordable DVD, turning him into one of China’s notorious DVD bootleggers.
Poignant family issues and echoes of Cinema Paradiso characterize this very strong deadpan comedy. Written and directed by Melbourne-born Sam Voutas, who lived in Beijing in the 1980s and 1990s as the child of diplomats. A promising film festival crowd-pleaser.
The Giant (Johannes Nyholm, Sweden, 2016)
Rikard Boberg dreams he is a giant, but in reality, he is a deformed (craniosynostosis) and possibly autistic man whose life revolves around competing in the Nordic Petanque Championships. When dropped from the team for health and safety reasons, he joins a friend on a breakaway team.
It’s a unique film: an odd, strange mixture of fantasy with some annoying pretend-verite camerawork. The facial make-up is impressive and the CGI for The Giant is particularly well done. Some of the characterizations (particularly Rikard) are thin, but most of it works and the film should prove a favourite with Festival audiences.
Editor's Note: Somehow or other I was prevailed upon to invest a minute amount of money in the crowd-funding section when King of Peking was going into production. The film has recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival (NY) and other places.