The World’s Best Film
Director: Joshua Belinfante
15th Annual Sydney Underground Film Festival
September 9-26, 2021
Joshua Belinfante was studying to be a solicitor when he was told he had a short time to live. While he had always dreamed of making films he opted instead for a financially secure career but after this confronting diagnosis his priorities shifted. He realised that what he wanted most was to travel the world filming people who were striving against all odds to be the best at something. Streaming online from September 9-26 is his highly personal The World’s Best Film about people “making a life rather than making a living”.
We meet Bjorn, a fastidious amateur actor from Stockholm who claims to be world’s best town planner. His passion is to identify aspects of town planning that “simply don’t work” and attach a label to the offending item or aspect bearing the inscription “Requires Review”. This urban planning vigilante becomes very angry if people “have the nerve to call his work graffiti” and feels his passion vindicated as the practice of labelling poor planning outcomes has been taken up in Paris and London. He has the grace to mutter that bad planning is “just a first world problem”.
Third world Narong from Bangkok, daily engaged in the battle to make a living, offers the most generous taxi service in the world. His “Bazaar Taxi” is stocked with an amazing variety of wares, a super-market on wheels, and his passengers are welcome to choose any item they need or fancy. Narong leaves his car open when on lunch breaks and children plunder his store of candies or plastic figurines. Despite his problems – his car is old, taxi driving is increasingly competitive and the need to help his wife with her food stall between morning and evening shifts – his belief in “giving back to those who give to him” sustains him in his fight to survive.
In contrast to hardworking Narong, Sydney’s Stevie Edwards, is the world’s best bummer of cigarettes. A few minutes into his spiel and we feel we have probably encountered Stevie on the station or in the park. Cheerfully he reveals his recipe for success in his trade: a smile is an asset, sympathy is gained by a limp or even better, crutches, he must offer to pay for it (“but only offer silver”) and maintain a disciplined approach (must bum at least 20 cigarettes before smoking one). He’s not selfish and sees himself as “a Robin Hood of cigarettes” making sure he has smokes left over for friends.
Stevie is a hard act to follow, but Rachel the world’s best loo tour guide is fair competition. Loos, she tells us, are connected to everything important – health, gender, identity, design – and holding aloft a plunger she leads her group of tourists towards Jubiloo, built to celebrate the Queen’s Jubilee. Quite the entrepreneur she now has a team of three loo guides and is thinking of expanding to other cities. A well-rounded individual, she also has a passion for Morris-dancing, and would you believe, collecting toy rats.
There’s much more to learn about Rachel, and Kamil the best violin chopper, Ivor the best banana griller, Magdelena the best puppeteer, Alex the best Goth costumier and Kurt who’s the world’s best at feeding geese. And more to learn about the tender-hearted Joshua Belinfante, his ex-girlfriend Gabby (the world’s best dog sitter) and his complicated relationship with his father and mother, all of it shedding light on why he would like us to know that “whatever people choose to do, they just need to try their best”.