Jewish Film Festival

Top Picks

Trailer Icon 03 Denial (Opening Night)
In the 1990s, an impassioned and articulate American Professor Deborah Lipstadt publishes a book titled ‘Denying The Holocaust: The Growing Assault on Truth and Memory’. Soon after, a prominent ‘denier’ referenced in Lipstadt’s work, David Irving, sues her for defamation. Suddenly, under the rule of the English legal system, Lipstadt must prove that the Holocaust occurred in order to discredit Irving and clear her name. She is matched with a brilliant but eccentric barrister, Richard Rampton, and the exceptionally smart lawyer Anthony Julius, who ask Deborah to buy into a unique and daring strategy – remain silent. Neither Deborah nor a single Holocaust survivor is to take the stand during their defense, thereby avoiding any possibility of emotional bias.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆ Slant Magazine
☆☆☆☆☆ The Hollywood News

Twenty years after the assassination that plunged Israel and the peace process into turmoil, Rabin In His Own Words is a moving firsthand account of the late prime minister and statesmen’s dramatic life story. Through a combination of rare recordings and documents, Yitzhak Rabin narrates his own biography; from his childhood in Tel Aviv as the son of a labor leader before the founding of the State of Israel, to farm worker, through to his service in the Israel Defense Force and his later diplomatic and political career. These candid public and private thoughts from a famously introverted personality illuminate the lesser known chapters of Rabin’s story, as well as some of the most critical junctures of the Jewish State.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆ Monsters And Critics
☆☆☆☆☆ Spectrum Culture

Jerry Lewis had the masses laughing with his visual gags, pantomime sketches and signature slapstick humor. Yet Lewis was far more than just a clown. He was also a groundbreaking filmmaker whose unquenchable curiosity led him to write, produce, stage and direct many of the films he appeared in, resulting in such adored classics as The Bellboy, The Ladies Man, The Errand Boy, and The Nutty Professor. Celebrating his 90th year, Jerry Lewis candidly reflects on his remarkable life and decades-long career, from his legendary partnership with crooner Dean Martin, his incredible rise to Beatles-like fame, to his great love affair with filmmaking.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Joey Miller is the undisputed king of Detroit party emcees. He is also a single father and deeply in debt. To make matters worse, during his latest, one-of a-kind wedding performance, all of his prized sound equipment is destroyed in a freak accident—and as luck would have it, his daughter Julie’s bat mitzvah is only four weeks away. After exhausting all of his options, he finally turns to his shady Uncle Morty, who agrees to give him the money to get back into business–but under one condition: Joey must go and steal his grandmother Rose’s famous top secret pickle recipe which she has vowed to take to her grave.
☆☆☆☆☆ Flick Direct
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

With the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands, the situation for Anne and her family grows dire. To avoid deportation, the family hides in a secret annexe in the rear of a house in Amsterdam—a claustrophobic existence combining everyday routine with imminent danger. Between birthday parties, bomb scares and the fear of being discovered, the young Anne records her daily life in her diary, where she details her fears and desires as she comes of age behind locked doors. Her clever observations and insightful descriptions have helped generations of young people picture the horrors of the Nazi persecution of the Jews.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Sylvia Rafael was born in Cape Town, South Africa, to an Afrikaner mother and a Jewish father—an unlikely beginning for a Mossad agent who came to infiltrate the inner sanctums of Israel’s foremost enemies. Raphael took over from Israeli spy, Eli Cohen, following his public hanging in Damascus in May 1965, defying the Syrian assumption that Israel would never replace him with a woman. This documentary traces the trajectory of Raphael’s cloaked life; from her involvement in the infamous Lillehammer Affair, to her subsequent imprisonment for espionage. With testimony from friends, family and lovers, director Saxon Logon paints a detailed picture of a mysterious, captivating and alluring woman who formed an integral part of Israel’s secret service.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

A homage to Israel’s most infamous river, the Yarkon, Winding offers an immersive study of an oft-maligned feature of Israel’s geography. Painting a portrait of a river that flows through the heart of Israeli society, this documentary tracks the history of its flow: from the settlers at the advent of the 19th century, to its modern day reputation as toxic eyesore, and to the Maccabiah disaster.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Waking up one morning to discover their passports smeared across television screens around the world, five ordinary Israeli citizens are plunged into a gripping international espionage affair. The five soon discover they have been implicated as prime suspects in a high-profile and brutal kidnapping—that of Iranian Minister of Defense, Farhead Sulimani, during his recent visit to Moscow. Inspired by the assassination of a Hamas leader in Dubai in 2010, False Flag immerses the viewer in the suspect world of spying and double-agents, with a tension that manages to retain a degree of irony, all performed with incredible virtuosity.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Ancient legends warn children about the Abulele: enormous, furry and sometimes dangerous monsters who are able to hide among the human race by making themselves invisible except to special children who are in need of a friend. Adam, a young boy grieving from the loss of his brother, discovers an Abulele living in his building. But when Adam realises that it is not the Abulele but the humans who are the real monsters, he risks everything to save his friendly giant.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Director Gur Bentwich wryly explores his family’s unique malady: a psychosomatic affliction that causes sufferers to glorify their family heritage and exaggerate its importance. From humble origins in Whitechapel, the eccentric and ambitious nineteenth century lawyer Herbert Bentwich set out to establish an aristocratic Jewish dynasty, rivalling that of Theodore Herzl and the other great founders of the Jewish state – at least according to the Bentwichs. With charming chutzpah, Gur’s family leave their home in Israel to step back in time, running amok in London to paint an intimate portrait of their family history.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Three brothers, child survivors of the Holocaust, go in search of a cave in the Tuscan countryside where their family hid 70 years earlier during World War Two. But more than a search to find a geographical location, the brothers are on their way to locate the common ground of memory, the nexus where the conflicting versions of their stories can come to rest. Lively, outspoken, and polar opposites in their personalities and professional lives, the men’s complex but loving relationships come to light, while questions arise about the nature of memory.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Trailer Icon 03 The Last Laugh (Closing Night)
The world’s foremost comedians can’t agree on how to joke about the Holocaust, or if it’s even ethical to try. Filmmaker Ferne Pearlstein puts the fascinating debate over comedy’s ultimate taboo to legends including Carl Reiner, Gilbert Gottfried and Harry Shearer, along with actual survivors such as Renee Firestone and other critical thinkers. Many, like Sarah Silverman, think jokes have the ability to keep history’s greatest tragedy present, while Mel Brooks and others reject the premise entirely. A most intriguing conversation emerges over where to draw the line between bad taste and bad jokes, shedding new light on the Soup Nazi, Hogan’s Heroes and the entire premise of The Producers.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

Posted in Films and TV | 1 Comment

Iranian Film Festival

Iranian Film Festival Australia
Top Picks

Trailer Icon 03 Life and a Day (Opening Night)
Somayeh is at a loss. Her only desire is to leave her family and take her destiny in hand, yet the love of her sick mother holds her back. Her elder brother, introduces her to an Afghan who wants to marry her and take her to Afghanistan. Despite herself, but moved by her brother’s concern, she accepts the offer, seeing it as primarily a means of escaping her family. And then, at the very last minute, she discovers the hidden face of the marriage proposal.
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

A couple, actors by night, must move from their apartment because it is in danger of collapsing. Tehran’s real estate boom. At home one evening in the new apartment the wife lets in a man she assumes is her husband, returning from a rehearsal of Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman. The encounter leaves her wounded and psychologically damaged. And leads to a marriage crisis as her husband relentlessly pursues revenge.
☆☆☆☆ Cine Vue
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ Telegraph
☆☆☆☆☆ The Guardian

A young girl informs her father that she has been kidnapped and asks him to bring the ransom money to pay for her rescue. Her father and brothers go to Tehran in search of her. However they find that she has not been kidnapped, rather she is living a vagabond lifestyle – eloped with her boyfriend and hanging out with a band of street musicians. Following the arrest of the bandleader and still full of love for her boyfriend, the young girl must tread the uncertain path in-between.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB

A seminal film of the ‘first Iranian New Wave,’ Ebrahim Golestan’s Brick and Mirror is essential viewing for those seeking to understand the influences of this period of film history on filmmakers as acclaimed and diverse as Kiarostami, Panahi and co. A minimalist tale of a taxi driver left with a baby in his back seat after the mother abandons the two of them, this classic branches out into a biting social commentary of Iranian society in the 60’s.
☆☆☆☆ The Film Sufi
☆☆☆☆ IMDB

A mind bending time travel genre mashup and a historical allegory. A prisoner inside has hung himself and we are one day away from the Iranian Prime Minister being shot dead outside of the parliament building. Questions abound as a police inspector begins his investigation with the help of a sound engineer and a geologist. Years later, all evidence of the investigation is found in a box – what happened to these men, and why were they arrested?
☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆☆ The Upcoming

Trailer Icon 03 Lantouri (Closing Night)
Lantouri, takes the name of a street gang in Tehran that robs and kidnaps people in broad daylight. The film follows Pasha, leader of the gang, and Maryam, a journalist and social activist. As their relationship breaks up, the two test each other’s ideals and ways of seeing society and its ‘victims’. This stylish social-realist drama explores the crimes committed and the frustrations of Iranian youth by way of interviews with activists, friends and hardline political commentators.
☆☆☆☆☆ IMDB
☆☆☆☆ The Upcoming

Posted in Films and TV | 3 Comments

Investor-State Dispute Settlement

Image result for Investor-State Dispute Settlement

I gave a talk at the Lowy Institute last Wednesday to which I initially gave a long-winded title “Intellectual Property- Economics, Diplomacy and Australia’s strategic interests” but managed to get more cut-through under the pressure of Twitters 140 character limit “DFAT goes AWOL on IP”.  In any event, you can listen to the podcast and view the slides when they’re up on the Lowy website. 1. In any event

In any event I was intrigued to find this defence of the rule of law in Henry Ergas’s most recent column 2. I must admit I felt more relaxed than Henry about constraints on the right to have QCs at 10K a day at 20 paces from an electricity price regulator’s ruling being curtailed. I can’t see it being much of a slippery slope in our deregulated age in which political punishments are usually fairly rapid once private capital finds itself stranded, but perhaps he’s right.

In any event I shot him back an email inviting his thoughts on Investor-State Dispute Settlement which I can never quite believe isn’t some stray bit of samizdat from the campaigns of Donald Trump of Hugo Chavez when I read about it.

Here’s Robert French CJ on it:

A briefing paper prepared by the European Parliamentary Research Service in January 2014 pointed to a number of concerns raised by a range of observers which include:

  • vague formulation of major treaty provisions leaving a wide range of interpretations open to arbitrators;
  • loopholes which enable abuses such as nationality shopping by companies which create subsidiaries abroad specifically to take advantage of the agreements;
  • lack of transparency with varying degrees of secrecy attaching to arbitral processes depending upon the institutions or rules which are applied;
  • a relatively small pool of arbitrators — arbitrators appointed to ISDS arbitrations are said to be mostly male (95%) and from Europe and North America;
  • role-swapping by arbitrators who appear from time to time as counsel in ISDS cases;
  • the high cost of ISDS arbitrations — estimated by OECD as averaging about $8 million each;
  • associated with the high cost and potentially high awards, a growing phenomenon of third party funding of claims by banks, hedge funds and insurance companies in exchange for a share of the proceeds ranging from 20% to 50%;
  • absence of effective review or appeal processes;
  • inconsistency in decisions on similar provisions.

Those concerns are reflected in an enormous body of literature on the topic of ISDS.

  1. The slides can also be downloaded from this link.
  2. Apologies if you hit a paywall
Posted in Economics and public policy, Intellectual Property, Law, Political theory, Politics - international | Leave a comment

Peace in our time eludes NT politics again

Yingiya Mark Guyula and other newly elected Independent NT MLAs

Yingiya Mark Guyula and other newly elected Independent NT MLAs

In contrast to the almost continual chaos and dysfunction that marked the former unlamented Giles CLP government, the period of almost 2 months since August’s election of the Gunner ALP regime has been positively soporific.

But it was too good to last. Friday saw a scoop by Sky News’ Matt Cunningham revealing that new Independent MLA for Nhulunbuy Yingiya Mark Guyula might well have been disqualified from nominating for election because he seems to have been a member of the Milingimbi Local Authority, a body established under the Local Government Act and part of the East Arnhem Regional Council.

Local authorities were established by the former CLP government in an attempt to remedy remote community anger towards the council amalgamation reforms perpetrated by the previous Labor government.  They are intended to provide local community input to the much larger regional councils.

Membership of the Milingimbi Local Authority may be a problem for Mr Guyula because of section 21 of the Northern Territory (Self-Government) Act 1978 (Cth), which relevantly provides:

Continue reading

Posted in Law, Politics - Northern Territory | 1 Comment

Strategic thinking, very serious people and roads not travelled

Paul Krugman has popularised the notion of the Very Serious People. Very Serious People spend a lot of their time talking about strategy. After all, strategy is the most important, most serious thing you can talk about. After all, when you’ve got strategy worked out, the rest is pretty much just filling in the detail.

We certainly have a VSP problem in economics as we sail on out into the treacherous waters pretending that it’s more or less like the 1990s and to the extent it isn’t it would be jolly good if we could get back there. Is anyone thinking about Australia’s response to the threat of secular stagnation? Not so much. (But isn’t it great that we haven’t had a recession in twenty five years? I mean, not wanting to repeat myself, but isn’t it, well … great?) A whole host of micro-economic reforms that might be contemplated? Not so much.

Anyway, I was reminded of this when I came upon this essay on The Path Not Taken, namely the path not taken by the UK in Europe. The essay is from 2014 and makes for very sad reading now. Of course a lot of bad luck coalesced to produce the political cock-up that was Brexit, but, reading it with hindsight, the essay intimates that it was born out of the same complete lack of imagination from the UK’s political elite. I don’t know enough about the internal politics of the EU to really know, but the essay strikes me making its key point very compellingly.

Posted in Cultural Critique, Economics and public policy, Politics - international | 5 Comments

The strange upshot of defending the indefensible

I expect I’m not the only one to be rather dazzled by Kellyanne Conway’s ability to defend the indefensible Donald Trump with sweet reason itself. Here she is more coherent, more compelling, more forensic than pretty much anyone on media these days in her presentation of why the media simply imposes a narrative on a situation and shows utter disregard for what you’re trying to say if it’s ‘narrative’ isn’t going there.

Of course, her attack on Hilary Clinton is utterly self-interested and in that sense lacks any genuine bona fides. As if anyone on the Trump campaign gives two hoots about women not being given a fair go when sexually assaulted by men. And yet, Conway is surely an extraordinary character – calm, lucid, forensic and manages to make some extremely good points about the bankruptcy of the media in today’s politics. That she makes it from a position of bankruptcy herself is unfortunate for her – she deserved a better candidate to display her remarkable skills.

Posted in Media | 6 Comments

In the long run, Keynes lives

Just listen to the list of this guy’s activities.

Donate here should you wish.

Posted in Economics and public policy | 1 Comment