Sunday, 30 August 2015

'Force of Destiny' w/Paul Cox Q&A at Cinema Nova, Carlton, 29 Aug 2015

Often described as Australia's most singular cinematic auteur, Paul Cox is a fixture at the annual Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, as his worldview and spirituality have been greatly influenced by journeys to the subcontinent. I happened to see him arrive at the closing night of the IFFM on Thursday night and felt honoured to pay my respects to the 75-year-old Netherlands native, known for his pursuit of social justice as well as prolific storytelling. On Friday I noticed a FB message from Cinema Nova in Carlton that a pair of free passes could be had to Cox's latest film, Force of Destiny. I responded and learned later in the day that I'd won, making me feel especially privileged as I took my seat yesterday afternoon. The film borrows greatly from Cox's battle with liver cancer and subsequent transplant in 2009 but delves deeper, posing questions about family, our journey through illness, love's undying hope, fate's role in our lives and deaths ... the human condition, basically. David Wenham stars as a man whose heart opens up to the earthy & ethereal Shahana Goswami just as his liver is failing. Their relationships is as unlikely as it is believable. Cox's camera is a gentle eye that captures the smallest graces, even those within Melbourne's Austin Hospital, where Cox was treated and where much of the drama was filmed, using hospital staff as extras. Cox took part in a brief Q&A afterward that included Aussie actors Terry Norris & Julia Blake. I asked if Cox shared a belief spoken by a dying character in Force of Destiny that facing death makes you eager to "find the sublime". He said it did, and as he's a man who was told he had six months to live if he didn't receive a liver transplant, I took his explanation as gospel. That Cox was writing throughout his cancer fight and came out the other side with a film as gentle, raw and soul-stirring as Force of Destiny only reinforces the urgency of a message that appears onscreen at the film's conclusion: ORGAN DONATION IS A GIFT OF LIFE. BE A DONOR.

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