I didn’t manage as much sleep as I’d hoped, due to neighbours in my guesthouse inexplicably pounding up and down the creaky floors from 5am to 7am. Luckily the first film, Nothing Personal, is a goodie. A young woman discards her possessions, leaves her home and sets out towards the Irish coast with her tent on her back. Evoking the protagonist of Agnes Varda’s Vagabond, she is petulant and fiercely independent, with no time for polite conversation. When she meets Stephen Rea, a widower living in solitude in a pretty house on a rocky outcrop, she agrees to work in his garden in exchange for meals, on the strict understanding that they share no information about themselves. But their mutual curiosity gradually gets the better of them. This is a stunning film, with beautifully composed shots and displaying a delicate sensitivity to texture and colour. Although we never find out about the characters’ backgrounds, it manages to engage and move on a deep level.
Next up is Undertow, a gay ghost-hunk romance, if you will. Living in a close-knit Peruvian fishing village, Miguel is in a loving relationship with his heavily pregnant wife, but also having a clandestine affair with a rich outsider, photographer/painter Santiago. As they discover, forbidden love is easier when one member of the couple is invisible to the neighbours. An inventive crowd pleaser that had the audience dabbing their eyes as the lights came up.
For my last film of the festival I pick Au Revoir Taipei. Young Kai is a sensitive soul who just wants to get to Paris to visit his girlfriend, for whom he’s painstakingly learning basic French phrases. Working at his parents’ noodle shack is not enough to raise the money for the flight, so he takes on some extra work trafficking a mysterious package. Kai and the cute girl from the local bookstore end up on the run from both hapless hoodlums and equally hapless cops, on the crowded, colourful, neon-lit streets of Taipei. A lighthearted caper that had everyone chuckling and doing the lindy hop out of the auditorium. At last! A happy ending! And with that, I head to Waverley to catch my train home. Over and out.