20 June 2007
Of the documentaries that I viewed, the most formally interesting were Cut Outs (Cassandra Bakic, 2003) and, in particular, Bloodline (Ben West, 2003). Cut Outs explores the culture of stencil graffiti (or stencil art) in Melbourne. Predictably perhaps, though also effectively, the film itself mimics stencilling in its visual style; the low detail of this also achieving the practical end of protecting the identities of those interviewed. As with Musictown, the real strength of the documentary is the interviewees and the connection of this topic to the function of context (stencilling on the street versus stencilling in art galleries), the political possibilities of graffiti, and the corporate appropriation and aestheticisation of the subversive and oppositional. Bloodline, one of my favourite films of the festival, is a very short documentary that introduces us to the operators, a father and son, of the Illustrated Man tattoo parlour in Sydney. The film is mainly black and white, and combines amusing interviews with the tattooists with still shots of tattoos and their associated iconography and paraphernalia from around the parlour. The still shots and the predominance of black and white invokes the aesthetic of tattoos themselves, as does the final time-lapse shot of the exterior of the store and its image of a tiger (already seen in tattoo form), which stares unblinking as the city races by.