Wednesday, 12 June 2019

Sydney Film Festival (12) - Barrie Pattison unearths a new film by legendary Australian animator Lee Whitmore SOHRAB AND RUSTUM

Buried in the Sydney Film Festival deluge, note Sohrab and Rustum a new fourteen minute animation from Lee Whitmore, maker of Ned Wethered all those years back in 1984. 

It is conspicuous, not the least as a contrast to all the festival toons around it. You could not fit this one into Adult Swim. 

Indeed there’s no indication that it’s maker has seen material with that aesthetic.

Sohrab and Rustum  has got a number of things going for it. First it’s neither hectic or weird, the two requirements that the other toons on show meet. It even has something resembling a conventional narrative and on top of that it is what Palm Beach so desperately wants to be and fails. (God forbid that that one wins the festival competition on the votes of those packed, applauding houses) Sohrab and Rustum is an appealing rendition of the Australian experience. 

In a beach front girls school, the uniformed class listens to a fifties battery radio but their attention is won over by a winning, glasses wearing young woman English Teacher who reads them an 1853 imitation Biblical poem by the son of the founder of Rugby school, something that is completely removed from their experience and ours.  

Lee Whitmore
The film is a rendition of a treasured childhood event conveyed after a lifetime and it feels like it. The realistic outlines playing over coloured backgrounds are stylish and unfamiliar and achieve the mix of nostalgia and adolescent wonder the piece drives on. It left me wanting to see the other work Whitmore has produced since I lost touch with her career. Now that would actually have been worth having in the event's Australian Women Directors season.

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