Alena Lodkina is a Russian-born filmmaker based in Melbourne, and one of an emerging generation of Australian experimental filmmakers. Lodkina has made well-received fiction and documentary short films that have played at festivals around the world, including Lightning Ridge: The Land of the Black Opals, which, alongside Matthew Walker’s Heart of the Queen, won Best Australian Short Documentary at the Antenna Documentary Film Festival (2016).
Strange Colours was developed through the Venice Biennale College, a rare privilege for an Australian filmmaker.
Tell us a little about your film, Strange Colours
Strange Colours was made in 2017, it was shot quickly and on a small budget as it was funded through an Italian program that supports micro-budget filmmaking. Prior to getting this opportunity to shoot the film, I had been travelling to Lightning Ridge for some years. The film was made in collaboration with that community and my aim was to capture something of the feeling of being there.
Watch Strange Colours now at SBS On Demand.
What are you currently working on?
I am developing a script for my next project. I won’t say too much as it’s still early stages.
How are you coping with self-isolation?
I’m lucky to live in a house with good friends so I haven’t suffered too much from the distancing thing. I think I’m doing the things everyone is doing: cooking, online yoga, walking around the park and drinking wine too early in the day – all helpful. My sourdough starter has been a depressing failure unfortunately, so no bread baking. I find having a routine helpful, waking up at the same time, and also leaving plenty of time to read and just do nothing after knocking off.
What are your 5 favourite films at SBS On Demand?
1. I Know Where I’m Going
Director: Michael Powell, Emeric Pressburger
Cast: Pamela Brown, Roger Livesey, Wendy Hiller
I was glad to see Powell and Pressburger films were recently added to the SBS stream. I watched The Red Shoes, I Know Where I’m Going and Black Narcissus for the first time only last year and was greatly moved by how unexpected and magical they are. I Know Where I’m Going really took me by surprise. It’s a quieter, more modest film and has a lovely gothic feel in the way it works with the Scottish landscape. It deals with the effects of modernisation and professionalisation of society; the title refers to the confidence with which the charming protagonist has planned out her future, until her plans are interrupted by brutal weather. I’ve been thinking about these themes a lot recently and this film felt pertinent.
Watch I Know Where I’m Going now at SBS On Demand.
Director: Christian Petzold
Cast: Franz Rogowski, Paula Beer
I love Transit by Christian Petzold – I saw it at MIFF when it premiered and happily re-watched it when I saw it was on SBS. I enjoy Petzold’s restrained noir elegance and heightened romance, and the way he uses genre and pays homage to history of cinema. This film is an adaptation of a brilliant book by Anna Seghers, which to me felt like a near perfect noir and I also highly recommend.
Watch Transit now at SBS On Demand.
3. Cemetery of Splendour
Director: Apichatpong Weerasethakul
Cast: Jenjira Pongpas, Banlop Lomni
I think this is a great time to watch/re-watch Cemetery of Splendour – the awaited release of Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s new film will undoubtedly be delayed this year. I should re-watch Cemetery myself (I’m pretty forgetful with films I’ve watched), but I enjoyed it so much when it came out and remember the incredible light sculptures in the hospital where a group of soldiers is asleep from a mysterious illness. I was interested in how this work evoked personal and national history and memory. Is there such a thing as a collective dream?
Watch Cemetery of Splendour now at SBS On Demand.
4. Dead Ringers
Director: David Cronenberg
Cast: Jeremy Irons, Genevieve Bujold
Dead Ringers is probably my favourite Cronenberg film. It’s profoundly creepy but I’m also impressed by how reserved it is in the body horror stuff, how much space it leaves for spontaneous, observed moments. I love Geneviève Bujold’s character, she’s so sexy and stylish, really great outfits, and Jeremy Irons is perfect as the snooty gynaecologist twins.
Watch Dead Ringers now at SBS On Demand.
5. Under the Cover of Cloud
Director: Ted Wilson
Cast: David Boon, Ted Wilson
This is a wonderful, unique Australian film shot on a tiny budget by my friend Ted Wilson, who wrote, directed and starred in it. A warm and funny portrait of Ted’s Tasmanian family.
Watch Under the Cover of Cloud now at SBS On Demand.
Let the Sunshine In by Claire Denis is great. I admire Denis for not being afraid to experiment with different genres. Here she’s trying her hand at romantic comedy, with Juliette Binoche as a self-obsessed older artist looking for love. I remember people found this film pretentious at the time because the characters are all middle class Parisians with petty problems – but I was moved by how she handled that world with totally surprising, inventive and hilarious scenes.
And I’ll say Certain Women by Kelly Reichardt as well, it left me with a lingering feeling of quiet dignity, which would be nice to revisit at this time.