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

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. 

CITIZENFOUR

Posted on Tuesday 9/22/2015 September, 2015 by Rialto Admin


“…the gripping Snowden documentary offers a portrait of power, paranoia and one remarkable man.” The Guardian

More gripping than your average blockbuster thriller and twice as worthy, Oscar-winner Laura Poitras’ documentary CITIZENFOUR is as stressful to watch as it is to ponder, post-viewing. It even begins in an intriguing way, when after Poitras receives encrypted emails from someone with information on the government's massive covert-surveillance programs, she and reporter Glenn Greenwald fly to Hong Kong to meet the sender, who turned out to be the now-legendary Edward Snowden. It sucks you in from the get go, and then spits you out the other side, horrified, paranoid and ever so slightly despressed.

The Internet’s own boy: the story of Aaron Schwartz

Posted on Thursday 9/17/2015 September, 2015 by Rialto Admin


THE INTERNET’S OWN BOY was always going to be a hard watch. For those familiar with the subject at its core the process serves as a reminder of the dangers of the online world and the machine behind it, and for those unfamiliar? The early ‘reveal’ is heartbreaking at best.

Opening with the sad news of Internet "hacktivist" Aaron Swartz's untimely death at the age of 26, the documentary traces the rise and fall of a tech industry prodigy. Interviews with his friends and family emphasise Swartz’s still very young career as a martyr of freedom of information, and they celebrate his brave fight for the public's right to access tax-funded academic and scientific research, culminating in an emotionally devastating two-year Federal lawsuit.

DINOSAUR 13 – when David meets Goliath, paleontology-style

Posted on Tuesday 9/8/2015 September, 2015 by Rialto Admin


The documentary DINOSAUR 13 certainly starts on a joyful enough note. Then it descends into frustration, absurdity and the realm of just plain bloody annoying. Annoying as in the ridiculous stream of events that took place in the early life of a dinosaur fossil named Sue, in this most definitely David vs. Goliath-type tale that will have you shaking your fist at the tele before you know it.   

Described  by the esteemed Roger Ebert as “’Kramer vs. Kramer’ for paleontologists”, it is an absorbing documentary that recounts a torturous, decade-long “custody battle” over the amazingly well-preserved skeletal remains of a Tyrannosaurus Rex that were discovered along a remote stretch of the South Dakota prairie.

THE FORECASTER – Big Brother was most definitely watching him

Posted on Wednesday 9/2/2015 September, 2015 by Rialto Admin




“The Forecaster is as serpentine and fascinating as a John le Carré novel...“ LA Weekly  

In September Rialto Channel is working with NZ Listener magazine to present their weekly Thursday night documentaries, which this month have been titled ‘'Big Brother”. The season could not kick off more perfectly then than with tonight’s documentary, THE FORECASTER, an astonishing piece of filmmaking about a very wronged man (or was he?).

20,000 Days on Earth and Nick Cave – man, myth and legend

Posted on Tuesday 8/25/2015 August, 2015 by Rialto Admin


Talking about Nick Cave ‘pseudo documentary’ 20,000 Days on Earth was always going to be a stretch for me. For one, I am an unabashed, unashamed, long time fan bordering on obsessive. Prior to writing this I had seen the doco around five times, including at last year’s NZIFF and when it was shown again later in the year when Cave toured New Zealand and presented a Q&A before the screening. To say I was excited would be putting it mildly - I pretty much had a touch of the vapours for days before and afterwards.

NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC – an album, a time and a place

Posted on Tuesday 8/18/2015 August, 2015 by Rialto Admin


NAS: TIME IS ILLMATIC tells one hell of a tale – of a great moment in hip hop, of a grim turn in the history of growing up poor in New York and of a generation of young black men who disappeared into the judicial system en masse following the arrival of crack cocaine.



At its heart is hip hop legend Nas, and it takes the form of a feature length documentary film that delves deep into the making of his 1994 debut album, Illmatic, and the social conditions that influenced its creation.

Twenty years after its release, Illmatic has become a hip-hop benchmark that encapsulates the enduring spirit and collective angst of a generation of young black men searching for their voice in America. It was a line in the sand at the time and still is, and it lives as a touchstone and a distinct turning point in New York hip hop.

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