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PLAY ME SOMETHING

UK, 1989 (MIFF 1989)

Director: Timothy Neat

Waiting for a delayed plane tn the airport on the Hebndean Island of Barra, where the landing strip is a cockleshell beach and the timetable is dictated by the tides, passengers are treated to a story of a holiday romance Set in Venice, the story is narrated by a stranger and represented by black-and-white photographs As they listen to this tale of love between the North Italian peasant and a chemist's assistant, the passengers begin to interrupt and participate in the development of the story.

The stranger/storyteller is John Berger, British author, art critic and screenwriter (for Alain Tanner's The Salamander and Jonah Who Will be 25 m the Year 2000); who has adapted this script with director Timothy Neat, from Berger's latest collection of short stories, Once m Europa

Shifting between 35 mm colour, black and white sequences and still photographs (taken by Jean Mohr) the film develops a seductive, poetic tone, paying tribute to the oral tradition in European culture.

Along the way, Berger (brilliant as the mysterious storyteller) touches many bases — combining documentary realism with folk absurdity, critical debate with poetry, ancient songs with pop-music — whilst inviting the audience to construct its own version of the story, just as the airport audience does.

Much of this will be familiar to those who know his work, particularly Ways of Seeing (1972), but to anyone this is a pleasurable journey into the imagination of John Berger.

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© Melbourne International Film Festival 2013.

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