YAKUZA EIGA, (2009), France, opened my MIFF screenings for the day at ACMI which I found a little odd as this sort of documentary would play better in the late evenings trying to maximize fans of the genre. Yakuza Eiga is rather a bold effort to explore the yakuza genre since it’s inception in the 1960’s to present day.

The film features interviews from the major players like Kinji Fukasaku, Sonny Chiba, Noboru Ando, Takashi Miike, Shunichi Kajima, Takashi Kitano – just to name a few from the decades and it looks into the importance of Toei Studios role in the rise of the genre. It features clips from some of the key films from late 60 and 70’s yakuza films and the film is stylized appropriately to give it some polish.

Eiga is geared towards those that are already fans of the genre, may knowledge of the yakuza genre is very limited but I still got plenty out of it which means that my list of films to catch up after MIFF is growing rapidly.

Yakuza Eiga is celebration of the genre, but towards the end of the film got a little conversational by implying that the recent batch of yakuza films since the earlier 90’s have strayed away from the iconic traditions of the yakuza gangster image.

BALIBO, (2009), Australia, was my evening film and had already highly lauded by critics from the opening night and this second screening almost had a similar vibe with the politicians, Steve Bracks (former Victorian Premier) and Gavin Jennings (Minister for Innovation) running the introduction along with the director, Robert Connelly and key creative members.

Balibo covers the events of the five Australian journalist shot and killed in Balibo, East Timor in 1975 when Indonesian forces invade the country. The film is essentially historical account of the events leading up to their murder and the murder of another Australian journalist Roger East played by Anthony La Paglia.

Robert Connolly is proving to be competent and masterful director as his career progresses and this effort will undoubtable in result in many AFI awards for him personally and the film.

The casting deliver wonderful strong performance and the film can not be fault technically either. The choice to open the festival with Balibo was easy choice when you have such well made Australian film that was funded partly by the MIFF production fund and Film Victoria.

Balibo’s only problem will be convincing the Australian cinema public to part with their hard earned cash to check out an Australia film and a good Australian film at that!