A freelance writer and copywriter for over fifteen years, Helene has written for publications and brands all over the world and couldn’t imagine herself in any other job. A shameless film freak, her first onscreen experience involved a trip to Avondale’s Hollywood Theatre at the age of five to see Yul Brynner in The Ultimate Warrior and she hasn’t looked back since. A big fan of documentaries, she has interviewed subjects as diverse as Henry Rollins, Jimmy Choo and Beyonce Knowles, and also has her own beauty blog - which can be found at www.mshelene.com - for the purpose of raving about red lipstick, big hair and other essential indulgences.

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Film Fess by Helene Ravlich

25 Latest News Articles

The unmissable SUPERMENSCH: THE LEGEND OF SHEP GORDON

Posted on Wednesday 12/2/2015 December, 2015 by Rialto Admin


According to Leo Rosten, the Yiddish maven and author of the splendidly named The Joys of Yiddish, a "mensch" is someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. The key to being “a real mensch” is nothing less than “character, rectitude, dignity, and a sense of what is right, responsible, decorous”. No mean feat then, huh?

THE CULTURE HIGH – getting serious about getting high

Posted on Wednesday 11/25/2015 November, 2015 by


"This is why I look so good, after 41 years in the game..."
Snoop Dogg

Tonight’s documentary THE CULTURE HIGH is bought to you from the makers of the critically acclaimed 'The Union: The Business Behind Getting High', who clearly have found a subject they know well and decided to run with it for a second time. This time they bring you the profound exploration of one of the most prolific wars of our time, tearing into the very fibre of modern day marijuana prohibition to reveal the truth behind the arguments and motives governing both those who support and oppose the existing marijuana laws in the US in particular. 

The debate over the legalization of marijuana rages all over the world, but there is no disputing the fact that billions of dollars are spent on our so-called "drug wars" and that arrests for mere possession of the drug number almost a million annually in the US alone.

Using hard facts, documentary footage and interviews, director Brett Harvey gives voice to both sides on this issue, and includes such vital concerns as the power of media to devastatingly shape the war on drugs and the unending greed of pharmaceutical companies who push far more dangerous prescription drugs at the public every day. It comes as no surprise that presidents dating back to Nixon and Reagan and both Bushes have demonised the use of pot, but Barack Obama - under whose administration drug-war expenditures and medical-marijuana raids have exceeded those of any other president, surprisingly – comes under heavy fire for his indecision and contrary attitudes when it comes to a drug that could in medical terms alone, offer very real comfort for millions.

Those who appear on camera include Sir Richard Branson, rapper Wiz Khalifa, Al Jazeera's Cara Santa Maria, and comedian Joe Rogan, who broke my heart when talking about the special needs of his challenged little boy.

So in celebration of sativa, I’ve decided to rank my top stoner flicks, in no particular order…

MIRAGE MEN – so you think you know the “truth” about UFOs?

Posted on Thursday 11/19/2015 November, 2015 by Rialto Admin

Mark Pilkington’s 2010 book MIRAGE MEN has been lauded as one of the more credible takes on the topic of unidentified flying objects, and tonight’s documentary of the same name expands on exactly that.

Conversation about UFOs has been around as long as most of us can remember, peaking alongside interest in the space race and questions about whether there was really life beyond our own planet. Classic films like Invasion of The Body Snatchers and It Came From Outer Spaceexploited the average Joe’s fear of the unknown from the 1950’s onwards, then the likes of ET came along in the early 1980’s to spread the word to the kids that the stranger from another world might just be what we need to save us.

THE HUNTING GROUND – a discussion of college rape and the fight for justice

Posted on Thursday 11/12/2015 November, 2015 by Rialto Admin


One of my favourite time wasting, guilty pleasures is regularly checking in on the Jezebel.com website, which carries a mix of current affairs, celebrity news and comment, usually with a feminist bent. I have long been horrified by their constant reporting on the prevalence of rape and sexual assault within the confines of US tertiary institutions, which also happens to be the subject of this week’s documentary for discussion, THE HUNTING GROUND.

FOOD CHAINS – where food choices can influence basic human rights

Posted on Thursday 11/5/2015 November, 2015 by Rialto Admin


We are demanding a dignified life for ourselves...”

It comes as no surprise how bleak the livelihoods of agricultural labourers around the world have always been, as the vast majority live below the poverty line and are working all hours just to ensure the survival of their families. Tonight’s documentary by director Sanjay Rawal, FOOD CHAINS looks deeper into how dismal the situation in America has become with the rise of increasingly powerful supermarket corporations whose influence beggars belief. 

Executive produced by ex-Desperate Housewife Eva Longoria and narrated by Forest Whitaker, FOOD CHAINS is predominantly set in southern Florida, where a group of farm workers battles the global supermarket industry and reveals the abuse of farm labourers in the United States. These people work long days, full-time, and they lift about 4,000 pounds of tomatoes per day. For this, they take home about USD $40 a day, tops.

Double Exposure documentaries that turn their light on crime – and so much more

Posted on Thursday 10/29/2015 October, 2015 by Rialto Admin

'This is a story that's far from over...' director Nick Broomfield on his HBO serial killer docTALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER 

When I was given the task of reviewing this week’s Double Exposure documentary duo for Rialto Channel I was pretty stoked. The topic of both is essentially “True Crime”, but what was so amazing is that both films go beyond that genre into something that is so much more. But back to me! I admit I am an absolute freak for true crime stories both in print and on screen, and have been since I was a teenager. There is something so terrifying and yet so fascinating – for me, anyway – about real life horror, so much more so than the latest incarnation of SAW. That is how I approached the first film, tonight’s TALES OF THE GRIM SLEEPER, which explores the suspected crimes and subsequent arrest of one Lonnie Franklin Jr., a community figurehead in South Central LA by day and a brutal killer by night.

A double dose of con artistry, and not an email from Nigeria in sight

Posted on Thursday 10/22/2015 October, 2015 by Rialto Admin


This week’s Double Exposure documentary duo has con artists as its theme; a term usually reserved for architects of Ponzi schemes and long lost relatives “trapped” in Nigeria. The pair showcased in this week’s  are from quite a different world entirely, and even more fascinating to watch.



The first is Thursday night’s AN HONEST LIAR, which is a compelling – and at times amusing - documentary about the world-famous magician, escape artist, and world-renowned enemy of deception, James 'The Amazing' Randi. The film brings to life Randi's intricate investigations that publicly exposed psychics, faith healers, and con artists with quasi-religious fervour, and exposes his own deceptions along the way.

A master deceiver 



My performance in science class during my high school years could be pretty much summed up by the image of an exploding Bunsen burner, so when I was handed two science-related docos to review for Rialto Channel’s Double Exposure documentary series I have to admit that I was a little scared! I needn’t have been though as both proved to be a bloody great watch – expert wielder of a Bunsen or not.

The story behind the creativity – my favourite films about artists and their work

Posted on Tuesday 10/6/2015 October, 2015 by Rialto Admin


This week sees two amazing street art documentaries hit Rialto Channel screens in the form of FINDING VIVIAN MAIER and BANKSY DOES NEW YORK. The former recounts the story of the late Vivian Maier, a nanny whose previously unknown cache of 150,000 or so photographs earned her a posthumous reputation as one the most accomplished street photographers thus far. It is both inspiring and frustrating, as her fame came mostly after her death. John Maloof, curator of some of Maier's photographs and co-director of the film, summarised the way the children she nannied would later describe her: "She was a Socialist, a Feminist, a movie critic, and a tell-it-like-it-is type of person. She learned English by going to theatres, which she loved. ... and was constantly taking pictures, which she didn't show anyone."

BANKSY DOES NEW YORK focuses on the quasi-anonymous British street artist Banksy’s 2014 trip to New York, where he did some of his guerrilla art on the streets of the iconic city. As part of this adventure he set up a public artwork or a street piece every day for a month all over the city. This documentary tells the story of these installations and their reception, and how a bunch of art-followers made it into a sort of scavenger hunt.

In light of both of these I thought I’d share some of my favourite films about artists – both documentary and biographical – and why they should be on your future viewing list: 

DESERT RUNNERS and ROAD: a journey to the extreme

Posted on Thursday 10/1/2015 October, 2015 by Rialto Admin


Many years ago now I worked for energy drink bigwigs Red Bull in New Zealand, and was thrown into a world I hitherto hardly new existed. I was hired as a copywriter and journalist, interviewing some of the brand’s brightest ambassadors about their work and then firing off pieces to various magazines. To say it was a fun job would be putting it mildly, and it also exposed me to a family of people who really do go harder before they go home.

These are the people we call “extreme” athletes, and others who just like to pursue their hobbies to the nth degree regardless of the consequences. The two documentaries I was given to talk about this week are full of people who do just that, and from various walks of life. 

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