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Dispatches from Down Under

Germany’s premier Antipodean film festival returns for its seventh edition at Moviemento, Sep 13-17.

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Hounds of Love

Germany’s premier Antipodean film festival returns for its seventh edition.

Taking over Kreuzberg’s Moviemento from September 13-17, Down Under Berlin is back with a streamlined showcase of the best in new Australian and New Zealand cinema. This year’s line-up comprises four fiction features, five docs, and five themed shorts programmes – many of the titles are European premieres, and most have yet to secure wider German distribution.

Those of a strong constitution should check out Hounds of Love, an audacious debut by Perthborn filmmaker Ben Young. Depicting in unflinching detail the abduction of a teenage girl by a deranged white trash couple, Young ratchets up the dread to almost unbearable levels whilst sensitively exploring the psyches of his repugnant antagonists, ensuring that the film never feels cheaply exploitative.

Further genre thrills abound in OtherLife, Ben Lucas’ stylish sci-fi yarn about a software engineer (Jessica de Gouw) who develops a nanotechnology-based drug capable of creating VR experiences that are “indistinguishable from the real thing”. It’s a pleasingly pacey affair with shades of Inception.

On the non-fiction front, Barbecue is a mouthwatering and visually stunning survey of outdoor cooking from the Aussie outback to the Syrian border.

Shorts-wise, you’ll want to catch the “Late Night Special” programme on Sep 16, where two horror-infused gems from New Zealand stand out: “Shmeat” is a witty dystopian fable told through charming animation, while “Feeder” is an evocative spin on the age-old legend that blues musician Robert Johnson sold his soul to the devil. Both feature slick effects and Twilight Zone-esque twists. At the other end of the cinematic spectrum, Jacobie Gray’s “The Aquarium”, part of “The Battle of the Shorts: Aus vs. NZ” showdown on Sep 14, is a simple, subtle portrayal of modern poverty and how it affects the children born into it.

Down Under Berlin, Sep 13-17 | Moviemento, Kreuzberg