Revelation reveals film program
Lee Ranaldo and Leah Singer head to Perth for Revelation.

The line-up for this year's Perth Revelation International Film Festival reflects the exodus of talent from the studios to the independent sector, with the most star-studded line-up in the event's 17-year history.

Scarlett Johansson, James Franco, Nicolas Cage, Tom Hardy, Jon Hamm, Robin Wright, Val Kilmer, Don Johnson and Michael C. Hall all star in the kind of envelope-pushing dramas that would in the past have featured under-the-radar actors or indie specialists.

Among the special events in the program, to be unveiled today at Luna Leederville, is the Sight/Unseen live multimedia presentation to be performed by legendary guitarist and Sonic Youth co-founder Lee Ranaldo and artist Leah Singer at the Bakery.

With the studios preoccupied with CGI-enhanced action-fantasies, penis joke-enhanced comedies and animated features, actors with ambition now take considerable pay cuts to work in challenging, adult-oriented material.

Which is why Johansson, the biggest star of her generation, is playing a man-consuming alien in Jonathan Glazer's audacious Glasgow-set, semi-improvised freak-out Under the Skin; Nicolas Cage gives one of the best performances of his career playing an ex-con who becomes the unlikely protector in David Gordon Green's acclaimed slice of southern Gothic, Joe; and Dexter's Michael C. Hall stars in Cold In July, a pulpy, violent Texas-set home-invasion thriller that has US critics buzzing.

And the presence of big names no way lessens the adventurousness of the movies in this year's program, which features 116 films, eight world and international premieres and 35 Australian premieres.

Sure to get Rev diehards booking early is The Congress from Ari Folman (Waltz With Bashir), a mix of live action and animation in which Wright plays an ageing actress who sells her digital likeness to a movie production company, opening the way for a raft of ethical conundrums.

Other highlights in the features strand of the program are Palo Alto, the debut of Francis Ford Coppola's granddaughter Gia who adapts a series of short stories by James Franco about teens in the San Francisco Bay Area; Willow Creek, a found-footage horror flick from US comic Bobcat Goldthwait that has been exciting genre fans; and, in the same vein, a restored version of Tobe Hooper's 1974 horror classic The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

The documentary section is headed by Finding Vivian Maier, an intriguing study of a Chicago nanny who left behind a treasure trove of photos documenting American life in the past 50 years; Led Zeppelin Played Here, about the day that the legendary band played for 50 teens at the Wheaton Youth Centre in Maryland; and Freeload, an examination of the secret world of youngsters who experience life riding the rails.

Rev also includes a mini-festival devoted to Iranian cinema (one of the hits last year), a celebration of analogue film culture, and a presentation from the Mu Meson Archives, a collection of "some of the most left-field movies in the world."

The Perth Revelation International Film Festival is on from July 3-13 at Luna Leederville and other venues. Details: lunapalace.com.au or revelationfilmfest.org

The West Australian

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