Documentary

That Sugar Film

I was lucky enough in the past week to host five screening + Q&As for a new Aussie film that’s about to take the nation (and probably western world) by storm.
It’s called That Sugar Film and is directed by Damon Gameau, an Australian actor and filmmaker, who actually won Tropfest Short Film Festival back in 2011 with Animal Beatbox, to much online debate.

His new film is kind of like a Supersize Me, but with sugar. But instead of chowing down on Maccas everyday, Damon eats 40 teaspoons worth of sugar everyday for 60 days – and only through foods advertised as ‘healthy’. So no chocolate, ice-cream or lollies. Just cereals, low-fat yoghurts, pre-packaged stir fry sauces and the like.

The equivalent of how many teaspoons of sugar Damon ate every day

The equivalent of how many teaspoons of sugar Damon ate every day

It’s astonishing to a) see how easy it is to eat 40 teaspoons each day and b) see just how sick he becomes.

What also surprised me, is just how palatable (no pun intended) this film is. A lot of people don’t enjoy documentaries, because the stereotype is they can be dry and intensely factual. But while That Sugar Film might lose a bit of steam about three quarters in, it’s hugely entertaining and tremendous fun, considering we’re watching a guy torture his body with sugar for two months. In the screenings I was at, small children sat as mesmerised as their parents while watching Damon happily poke fun at himself and get people laughing – and learning – at the same time.

It’s definitely a flick that stays with you. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to look at cereal the same way.  And in fact, just today, in an effort to cut out some of the hidden sugars in my diet, I made some cottage cheese muffins so I wouldn’t reach for a chocolate pick-me-up. And after the shock-horror of seeing how much junk goes into wraps, I also whipped up a few homemade versions of them too.

Cottage cheese muffins from 101 Cookbooks

Cottage cheese muffins from 101 Cookbooks

That Sugar Film just got a limited run on screens here in Australia and it’s heading to cinemas around the world. Definitely worth seeing this doco, which packs a lot of food for thought. Just remember to skip the candy bar on your way – you’ve been warned!

 

 

Loco for Docos

Before I became a journalist, I had dreams being an actor and then a screenwriter.

I was still chasing those dreams when I decided to become a journalist. And it was the unquenchable love of movies brought me to film journalism.

 

Interviewing Mia Wasikowska at the 2013 Sydney Film Festival

Interviewing Mia Wasikowska at the 2013 Sydney Film Festival

But I still get that nagging feeling of wanting to make my own.

 

Super 8

Super 8

And with one particular idea bubbling away, I enrolled in a four day (two weekend) Directing Documentary course at Metroscreen in Paddington.

It’s how I spent my weekend – learning about the art, history and techniques of making a documentary.

 

Still from Man with a Movie Camera - one of the docos we studied over the weekend

Still from Man with a Movie Camera – one of the docos we studied over the weekend

It’s fascinating stuff, and good thing too, because it’s now Monday and I’m scratching my head, wondering where on earth the weekend went.

I’ve also taken away from the course an enormous list of films to watch – including Grizzly Man, Hoop Dreams, Samsara, Act of Killing and Searching for Sugar Man (I felt quite guilty I haven’t seen the last two cause they’re both recent).

Still from the poetic doco Samsara - which I'm yet to see!

Still from the poetic doco Samsara – which I’m yet to see!

 

But in case you’re keen to check out some docos, here are some of my recommendations (in no particular order):

 

STORIES WE TELL

Filmmaker Sarah Polley in  the beautifully engrossing Stories We Tell

Filmmaker Sarah Polley in the beautifully engrossing Stories We Tell

Filmmaker Sarah Polley turns the lens on her family, herself and the idea of memory in what begins as a portrait of her mother and becomes a kind of unravelling mystery. One of my favourites – it goes to some surprising and unexpected places.

BLACKFISH

I was seriously fired up after watching this partisan-style doco. Get angry at SeaWorld, the brutal abuse of animal rights for money and how it ultimately led to the death of killer whale trainers and imprisoned a traumatised creature in the process.

SENNA

It doesn’t matter if you’re an F1 fan or not – this is a gripping, superbly crafted film about beloved Brazilian driver Ayrton Senna

THE LAST IMPRESARIO

You’ve heard of Rocky Horror Picture Show? Of Monty Python? Of Anna Wintour and Kate Moss? Meet the man who believed in and championed them first, the theatre and film producer Michael White, who’s often referred to now as “the most famous person you’ve never heard of”. Made by Aussie socialite Gracie Otto in her impressive directorial debut.

THE STORY OF FILM: AN ODYSSEY

Made up of 15 one-hour chapters, this aired on TV network SBS here in Australia before it got a DVD release , although I luckily was given it for my birthday. It’s a thorough, in-depth account of film’s evolution, by Irish film critic and director/narrator Mark Cousens. A must-see ode to cinema, even if I do find his voice a little irritating.

20 FEET FROM STARDOM

I’ve always loved songs like Walk On The Wild Side and Christmas (Baby Please Come Home). In this, you meet the powerful voices that made those songs what they are.

What are some of your favourites?