Seen at the Sydney Underground Film Festival
There is really no pithy opening paragraph I can come up with to properly start this review of a film that, rather charmingly, calls itself “The World’s Best Film”. I tried, couldn’t think of anything… mostly cos I was just too damn charmed by the film to really bother with the normal format of these reviews.
The World’s Best Film starts when filmmaker Joshua Belinfante discovers that he has a large tumour between his heart and his lungs while he’s in the middle of his studies to become a solicitor. Not knowing how much time he might have left, Joshua reevaluates his life and decided to take a chance at something he used to love doing but just couldn’t make happen… making films.
After getting clearance from his doctor, Joshua takes off around the world to meet people who are the world’s best at their own niche activity and documents what made them as great as they are. From the world’s best toilet tour giver to the world’s best taxi driver, Joshua takes us on a charming journey around the world to meet people who prove you can be great and passionate about absolutely anything.
There is just something about The World’s Best Film that’s so endlessly charming. A lot of films try to seem sincere but never quite pull it off, but this film manages to feel completely sincere and earnest the entire runtime. This is one of those films that is just so pure of heart that it runs the risk of turning saccharine but somehow never goes there. This film is just naturally sweet, wholesome and uplifting in ways that I haven’t seen in a depressingly long time.
The World’s Best Film is divided up into several small sections, effectively little mini-documentaries about each of these fascinating people. We get to see them do what they do (be it repairing a violin or giving a guided tour of local toilets), talk to them about why they do it and how they fell in love with it and the passion just oozes out of the screen with every passing second.
You might not understand why someone would be passionate about the various ways to cook a banana but by the end of the segment about that very thing, it kinda made me want to get a grill and some bananas to try it myself. This happens with every segment, the passion just makes you want to try and be the world’s best at something.
All of these segments are woven together by Joshua as he tells the story of how making the very film we’re watching got him through his illness. Like any good anthology film, his wrap around keeps everything flowing neatly and gives everything just a little more weight. It doesn’t play the tumour thing like some big surprise, it’s practically the first thing we learn about the person behind the camera and even though this major issue is only really brought up again towards the end, it hovers over the film and gives it strength.
Is The World’s Best Film actually the world’s best film? No, because that film is clearly The Terror of Tiny Town and the medium has never reached that height of true greatness since then… but it’s really damn good. A love letter to passion and talent that also displays a huge amount of passion and talent in its making. It’s that feel-good documentary that just gives you the desire to find that one thing that you’re good at and become the best at it. No matter what, everyone has something special about them and The World’s Best Film is the best depiction of that idea that has ever been put on film.