Sunday, 20 May 2018

Sydney Film Festival - David King enthuses over Soda Jerk's TERROR NULLIUS (Re-posted from Facebook)

Editor's Note: This is the third post devoted to some of the films screening at the forthcoming Sydney Film Festival. The previous posts were devoted to Alena Lodkina's Strange Colors and Xu Bing's Dragonfly Eyes Click on the film titles to read more. This item is for the record. The film's three sessions are already sold out. 

Finally got up to Melbourne to see Terror Nullius, the work of film art by Soda Jerk currently (as of May 2018) screening in ACMI Gallery 2. 

Soda Jerk
This work was called 'un-Australian" by the Ian Potter Cultural Trust which originally commissioned and funded it. Even when I hadn't seen the film, I had trouble believing anyone actually working at the Ian Potter Cultural Trust would use such a term as 'un-Australian'. The term smacks of certain conservative Anglo-Saxon politicians. 

Having now seen the film, I'm utterly convinced the term was foisted on the Ian Potter Cultural Trust by some powerful but unseen and unnamed third party behind the scenes.

No one working in the arts today would even think of using such a term. The only people who could possibly think Terror Nullius was 'un-Australian' are the sort of people who despise Aborigines, gays and transgender people, refugees, republicans, environmentalists, and anyone with even vaguely leftist views.

The audience I saw the film with was predominantly young (early 20's to mid-30's) with a sprinkling of older people (40's to 70's). There were lots of giggles, outright laughs, and nodding heads from start to finish and no one walked out - which suggests that Soda Jerk spoke for a lot of people when they made this film. Certainly not for the conservative hard right politicians, but for nearly everyone else.

Terror Nullius
Let's face it: most fair-minded people in Australia have long since accepted Aboriginal rights, gay and transgender people, believe Australia should stand on its own two feet without the monarchy (or if we're so attached to the idea of a monarchy, have our own king or queen), and feel ashamed of the way our politicians are treating refugees. They would also like to see environment protected for future generations rather than exploited for short-term gain. So just who is 'un-Australian' here? Certainly not the filmmakers who seemed to strike a chord with the audience, if the laughter, nodding and grins were any indication.

Is the film art? Absolutely. You could hear the gasps of astonishment when the audience realized what was being done with the juxtapositions of different Australian films. It was brilliantly done.

Is it funny? Yes, in a satirical way which reminded me of Stanley Kubrick's Dr Strangelove, although it's a very different kind of film. It kicks the shit out of self-important politicians just as Kubrick's film kicked the shit out of posturing military men and their advisors.

Is it 'un-Australian'? It's about the most unapologetically Australian film I've seen for a long time. Most films funded by Government bodies are too afraid to be Australian - which means to take the piss, to mock authority, to give the finger to those who think they rule. to be larrikin and not give a rats. Terror Nullius is clearly - if audience reactions are anything to go by - a breath of fresh air.

Hats off to Soda Jerk and to ACMI for screening the film.

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