Secret City (UK) (site)
Writer, producer and just about everything-er Lee Salter was present for this zero-budget documentary about the City of London, and how it relates to the rest of London. Beginning as a history lesson, the film tells - using as much uncopyrighted film and music as possible mixed with talking heads interviews with political, financial, religious and revolutionary representitives in the know, informing us of some of the less-well known aspects of how the City of London - backed by the Corporation of London - operates. I was not aware that the Lord Mayor of the City was not elected by the people, but by representitives of corporations, for example, or that each corporation within London that is part of the boys club, are awarded votes according to their employee size to use in elections (but their employees don't get to use them, and most aren't even aware they exist).
As the film goes on, it switches focus from the history of how the corporation (and these days, the financial and business institutions that as much as own it) operate, and onto the shadowy relationships between the financial takeovers and the business deals generating massive profits that seem to conveniently precede them, before ending up looking at the movements trying to bring the less agreeable aspects of the corporation to account, or to overthrow it entirely. Some of the topics as you might expect overlapped with The Tax Free Tour from earlier in the festival.
You can tell it's a zero-budget film; little use of computer graphics, grainy, wobbly handheld camerawork and as many copyright-free versions of 'The bells of St. Clemens' play throughout as they could lay their hands on. Because the filmmakers couldn't be too picky about the source of a lot of the footage, the film tends not to have very well established topics, instead pretty much squashing as much information in as it could, rather than perhaps taking a few of them out and dwelling a little longer on those that remain; monologues from interview questions come thick and fast in a roughly related order and before you know it the topic has moved on without some breather between.
What is here is pretty important, especially for the citizens of the UK to take on board, but chopping out some detail and dwelling more on other bits would have probably helped in getting the messages through. 7/10
BTW If you are interested in the differences between London, it's city and corporations, the ever-interesting CGPGrey did a nice little primer some time ago.
Rio 2096: A Story of Love and Fury (Bra) (site)
I was originally planning on seeing Masterpiece: Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, a documentary of the film, but since I'm seeing the actual film on Wednesday and I'm not that much of a Batfan, I fancied the look of Rio instead. Brazil is not known for it's animation output, so I was curious to see what this award-winning film had to offer.
At the start of Rio's history in the 1500's, a tribesman of the pre-brazillian Tupinamba learns the hard way that has has been chosen as an immortal by the Gods, and to fight Ahnaga - evil in it's many forms - wherever he encounters it. Blessed with the ability to become a bird and fly from unwinnable situations, he assumes human form again and again over the centuries, searching for the reincarnations of his true love Janaina, that bring him to earth and again into inevitable confrontation with the authoritarians and dictatorships of the time that seem to carry out Ahnaga's wishes.
Rio 2096 clearly displays the fledgeling status of it's mother countries' maturity as a producer of feature-length animation. It is little more advanced than saturday morning cartoons such as Avatar, which looks pretty choppy in the face of some of the higher-end output from America or Japan. However it is functional enough to convey the feel of the places and the action, that succeeds pretty well in weaving a fantasy story through the difficult centuries of oppression and poverty that has pock-marked the history of Brazil. In this, it's a little heavy handed, and the repeated model of find Janaina, encounter oppression, fight and win/lose, then fly on for a few years doesn't change much throughout, but that doesn't stop it being an enjoyable watch.
It's a pretty good start to a potential new industry in Brazil, whose economy could certainly do with another potential feather to it's bow, but it needs to mature somewhat before it can produce the sock-knocking epics coming out of the more established animation houses. 7/10