Film fest couched by COVID

29 June 2020

Couched Online Fest provides a glimmer of light for film lovers as the Revelation Perth International Film Festival is postponed until December.

The Revelation Perth International Film Festival has been postponed until December, with a virtual festival running its place in July. Couched Online Fest will run online from July 9 – 19, presenting more than 25 features and documentaries from across the world including a number of premieres. Seesaw chatted with program director Jack Sargeant about how the festival has pivoted.

Rosalind Appleby: What were your plans for Revelation Film Festival before COVID shut it down?
Jack Sargeant: That’s a really interesting question. Our process is to watch films; I search things out and talk to [Festival director] Richard Sowada about them, we argue, bounce ideas around, themes gradually develop and we pursue them and we slowly build up the festival programme. So when it became apparent in March that things weren’t going to necessarily proceed as intended we were still in the process of building the program, talking about live scores, retrospectives, and so on. Several titles from the orignal festival are included in the streaming program, others were lost, which is unfortunate. But I hope these will be viewed by audiences down the line, either at Revelation or elsewhere. It’s tough for everybody across the film industry, at all levels.  

RA: How have you adapted to the new situation?
JS: We come from that DIY background. Even now, when you come to Revelation, you will see the core team tearing tickets, running around, making sure things happen as they should. We are very hands on. It’s very instinctive, so when situations like this arrive we are able to draw on our experiences and our abilities and engage with the issues that emerge.

The hardest thing has been the lack of partnerships and the income that generates (a situation that has occurred primarily due to the economic changes many businesses are facing). This invariably means that a very small team are doing what in many other festivals a larger team would be doing.

RA: Revelation had already ventured into the online space five years ago with REVonDEMAND. How is Couched different?
JS: RevonDemand features works that have already screened at the festival. It’s an incredible selection of works that reflect the diversity and strength of indie and underground films drawn from more than two decades of programming. In contrast to this Couched is all new work, we have national premieres, state premieres and so on, these are all contemporary movies. These titles are only available during the ten days of the festival, and, like the physical manifestation of Revelation, there are plans for Q&As and so on.

RA: What premieres should we keep an eye out for?
JS: The films are available for 24 hour rental, in most cases, and there’s around 25 titles available over the ten days. They are not restricted by specific times so people can just dive in and watch everything. With that in mind, I think they should keep an eye out for everything. If you force me to select a handful; I enjoyed Morgana, A Family, and Frances Ferguson, all of which are state premieres. An Ideal Host is a locally produced indie-feature that is having its world premiere.  

RA: How can film lovers participate in the Couched Online Film Festival?
JS: I would hope people buy passes, tickets, whatever they can afford, and watch the films. I’d also hope people encourage others to watch the films they liked too. If people like a film, maybe go to the filmmaker, tell them, buy merch. if its available. We are making a point of paying all feature film filmmakers, or distributors, a percentage. More than ever we, and the arts in general, need support. The more people watch movies and show their support for these filmmakers and their visions, the better.And when cinemas re-open, make sure you return to them too, because at every level the arts, and cinema, need your support.

RA: What are you hoping viewers will experience through the Couched Festival?
JS: I’m hoping they get that taste of the festival, that they feel connected to each other, the festival, and the filmmakers. Festivals are very much about communities, even temporary communities, and I hope that people get that experience through watching movies online and communicating on various social media platforms.

RA: Anything else you want to tell us about the Festival?
JS: This is an opportunity to experience Revelation even if you can’t be in the city at the time a screening starts, for people who don’t normally get to see a film at the festival, I hope it enables them to get a taste of something unfamiliar.

Couched Online Fest runs July 9 – 19.

Friends of Seesaw receive a 25% discount on all tickets.

Pictured top: Jack Sargeant is program director of Couched Film Fest. Photo Tyler Hubby

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Rosalind Appleby

Author —
Rosalind Appleby

Rosalind Appleby is an arts journalist, author and speaker. She is co-editor of Seesaw Magazine, author of Women of Note, and has written for The West Australian, The Guardian, The Australian, Limelight magazine and Opera magazine. She loves the percussion instruments which can be found in the uber cool parks.

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