"(Adult themes, coarse language) - Canadian Premiere"
Release Year: 2017
Duration: 64 minutes
At a homeless drop-in centre in New York City, a documentary crew finds Bikini Moon Davis, looking for help and a place to stay. With wide, lively eyes and a broad smile, Bikini is provocative, bold, and dynamic – and also clearly in a troubled mental state. Claiming she drove a forklift in the Iraq war and was trained as a carpenter – “just like Jesus, with tits” – she’s been on and off the streets, while hoping to stabilize her life enough to get back her young daughter from a foster home.
Something about Bikini grabs the attention of volunteer social worker (and documentary producer) Kate Skyler, who is seen convincing the film’s director (and her live-in boyfriend), Trevor Hood, that they should make the extra effort to help Bikini get back on her feet. It’s impossible for Trevor not to agree that Bikini is a fascinating subject, ignoring the ethical problem of documentarians getting too involved in their subjects’ lives.
This very modern, urban fairy tale set amidst a fractured ideal of family is presented as a documentary that unravels, reveals, and reimagines itself alongside its unpredictable subject. BIKINI MOON’s film-within-a-film structure unpacks and examines the way we look at the world through media that demands to be seen as reality, while asking the uncomfortable questions about the often exploitative relationship between media and its subjects. Ultimately, documenting Bikini’s life means seeing the world from her point of view without judgement, no matter how fantastic, frightening and ecstatic that view might be.
“A brilliant auteur film. Positioned on the delicate line between fiction and documentary, Bikini Moon is a modern, urban fairy tale, with a fascinating narrative, imposing itself as one of the best films of 2017, with the marvelous Condola Rashad.” ~Felipe Brida, Cinema na Web
“This is the entirely fresh and original work of a master filmmaker” ~The Movie Gourmet
“If Bikini Moon were not such a decidedly independent and “small” movie, an Oscar nomination for best actress wouldn’t be out of the question” ~Cineuropa
Awards and Screenings:
Bikini Moon was the winner of the Directors' Week Special Jury Award at the Fantasporto International Film Festival of Portugal, a nominee for the Grand Jury Prize at the Nashville Film Festival, and has been screened at several festivals including the Sao Paolo Film Festival, the Belgrade Film Festival, Cinequest Film Festival in California and the Sofia International Film Festival in Bulgaria.
Manchevski on Bikini Moon:
"I'm trying to explore the loss of privacy to the media and the nature of truth as seen in the media today. When we watch a documentary, is it true? Is reality TV true? Or what if we just see a little snippet of something on YouTube – how much is a matter of context? On the one hand, we may be getting more finicky about the truth in terms of asking for context; but on the other hand, we are more cavalier, because now people say we are living in ‘post-truth’ and ‘fake news’ has become ubiquitous. Still, all of this matters only when there is a real human story at the heart of it all.”
BIKINI MOON is a film that is dominated by its rigorous documentary style. This is something Manchevski believes all viewers have a keen critical instinct for: “Reality TV is a perfect example of how easy ‘truth’ is to manipulate – as are documentaries, for that matter. And in the last several years, we are all living inside our own mediated bubbles, we see people being immersed in their own various aspects of telling the truth. Every single one of us walks around with a camera in their pocket and can make ‘what really happened’ accessible in seconds – but we have less real truth, less wisdom.”
Milcho Manchevski’s acclaimed Before the Rain (1994) is considered “one of the greatest debut feature films in the history of cinema” (Annette Insdorf) and “one of the most important films of the decade” (Ann Kibbey). The New York Times included it on its “Best 1,000 Films Ever Made” list. It won the Golden Lion in Venice, Independent Spirit, an Academy Award nomination and 30 other awards.
Manchevski’s work – which also includes the award-winning features Dust (2001), Shadows (2008), Mothers (2010), and the award-winning short forms The End of Time (2017), Thursday (2013), Macedonia Timeless (2009) Tennessee (1992) and 1.73 (1984), and an episode of HBO’s The Wire (2002) – “stands out in world cinema for its unique way of playing with space, time and emotion” (Keith Brown). Roger Ebert said, “Work like this keeps me going. A reminder of the nobility that film can attain.” “His unique blend of experimentation, poetry, emotion and a demand for the active participation of the viewer in the construction of meaning are highly praised.” (ConorMcGrady)
Manchevski’s work has screened at more than three hundred festivals, and has been distributed in more than 50 countries (theatrically, TV, cable and video). He holds an honorary doctorate from VGIK in Moscow, Russia and is a member of the Directors Guild of America, the European Film Academy and the PEN Club. He has served on festival juries in Venice, Shanghai, Warsaw, Locarno, Vilnius, Pula, Munich, Rostov-on-Don, among others. His work is part of the curricula at numerous universities and is the subject of many essays and books.