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Byron Shire
May 8, 2021

Byron Bay Film Festival: The film world comes to you!

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Interview with Madeleine West

Madeleine West is a nationally acclaimed actress who is one of the many talents who lives in our region. Not just a soap star (some might know her as Dee Bliss from Neighbours), Madeleine has an extensive performance training background and she’s going to be sharing her Theatresports expertise with kids at the Byron Comedy Fest.

the_flight_fantastic_poster_finalThe Byron Bay Film Festival’s international reach and reputation is growing every year, and along with it the extensive list of the world’s filmmakers joining us to share their stories and their artistic and industry insights.

American Tom Moore leapt at the chance to introduce his delightful documentary The Flight Fantastic – about the legendary Mexican circus family The Flying Gaonas – which has passion, drama and flair. You will thrill to the colourful 70s footage of the great flyers – supreme athletes and superstars of the day.

Although this is Moore’s first doco, he is a respected Broadway director whose portfolio includes the Pulitzer prize-winning Night Motherstarring Kathy Bates, and the original production of Grease, for which he received a Tony nomination and which launched the talents of John Travolta, Richard Gere, Patrick Swayze and many more… Tom has directed Sissy Spacek, Anne Bancroft, Drew Carey, John Lithgow, Helen Hunt, Burt Lancaster and Kirk Douglas – to name a few.

Sticking with showbiz, director Ned McNeilage will present his short documentary Showfolk, bringing audiences up to date with seven of the residents at Hollywood’s Motion Picture & Television Fund home.

Among the stars are a Vaudeville comedian still working at 100, a screen siren who dated Ronald Reagan when he was a Democrat, a kid out of college who sold The Ten Commandmentsaround the world and a Disney legend who met Walt when she was a little girl. They share wisdom and inspiration garnered over seven lifetimes in the business.

From Eastern Europe comes Piotr Zlotorowicz, the up-and-coming Polish filmmaker, with his emotional drama Matka Ziemia (Mother Earth),a film rich in the mystical elements rooted in the tradition of rural Polish life.

A young man is also the protagonist in Giacomo Martelli’s film Coral, the story of Pio, a subsistence fisherman in Samoa. Against advice, one morning Pio sets out onto a lagoon where fishing is forbidden. Near the reef he makes a terrible discovery, one that triggers a crisis of conscience.

Producer Elaine Niessner joins us from Germany to present her short film Der Ausflug (The Run). Exceptionally riveting performances drive this tense thriller – where a teacher faces a psychological duel with a teenage psychopath.

Byron Bay will also play host to a festival-load of other filmmakers from the US, Canada, the UK and New Zealand.

Oden Roberts
Oden Roberts

Oden Roberts is the writer and director/producer of A Fighting Season, an American military drama with all the tension of the frontline – except the protagonists are now desk bound, and supposedly on the same side. This world premiere is sure to be a highlight for film-lovers who enjoy having their world-view challenged – and expanded.

There’s romance as well as suspense in Bereave, which George Giovanis co-directed with his brother Evangelos, who also served as producer, writer and editor, working with screen veterans Malcolm McDowell (Alex from Clockwork Orange), Bond Girl Jane Seymour and an ensemble cast that includes Keith Carradine (Nashville) and Mike Starr (GoodFellas).

From the UK comes Karen Donald, producer of the magnificent surf documentary Oney Anwar  Chasing the Dream, the story of a young Indonesian’s journey from a remote coastal village, home to some of Indonesia’s best and most challenging waves, to his debut on the ASP’s elite World Championship Tour.

Six of the production crew of the thrilling speed-record doco Out of Nothing are revving up to race over, including producer/composer Andrew Lahmann and director/DOP Chad DeRosa. Audience members will have the chance to ask them anything they want – as long as it’s about movies or motorbikes.

Ben Cookson-Almost-MarriedAlmost Married is Brit Ben Cookson’s directorial debut, a raucous black comedy starring Inbetweeners star Emily Atack and Philip McGinley (Game of Thrones). As a film that sets out to provocatively push boundaries at times it seems strangely appropriate that Ben found the key backer for the film in a toilet at the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

New Zealand director/producer Amy Taylor shares the story of an extroverted wild dolphin, Moko, in Soul in the Sea, and the incredible experiences and friendships Moko created with his human companions.

Broderick Fox will join North Coast ‘deathwalker’ Zenith Virago to introduce his latest film, Zen and the Art of Dying. The American made the doco in collaboration with Zenith about her work, which challenges our constricting attitudes to death and explodes the taboos around the subject. Broderick and Zenith met during BBFF2012, where he presented the world premiere of his groundbreaking film The Skin I’m In.

Also heading our way from the US is Marcus McCollum, director of the short, suspenseful The Best Driver in the County. Joe’s had his fair share of sadness and even his tranquil Sunday morning gardening looks like having a tragic outcome when two escaped convicts barge in looking for a getaway car.

And Matt Huffman, the producer of BBFF2014’s Opening Night Film When My Sorrow Died: The Legend Of Armen Ra & The Theremin, returns from LA with two short films, the sensuous The Foot Job and Hero.Traitor.Patriot,about whistleblower Edward Snowden.

And finally, the producers of our Opening Night film Will and Testament will be on hand to tell all about having political dynamo Tony Benn and his long career as documentary subjects. Benn was brave, brilliant and occasionally just a little barmy and the film produced by Jane Wilkinson and Jacqueline Jean-Louis reflects that, and the man of deep feeling underneath the lifelong political stirrer.

Outstanding Australian talent shines at BBFF2015

Australian screen acting legends David Wenham and Jack Thompson will take the stage on Opening Night and throughout our opening weekend.

Directing legends Paul Cox (BBFF’s Patron) and Tony Ayres will talk about their latest films, providing exclusive insights into the creative process behind them.

There’s just no telling who will arrive to walk our red carpet, or turn up to support a film, as BBFF has become renowned for its surprise celebrity appearances.

BBFF2015 features 93 Australian films, and almost two-thirds of them will be presented by their makers. Every year our Young Australian Filmmakers Session is bold, provocative and highly sophisticated – not least those works from around our region.

The Byron Bay Film Festival runs from March 6 to 15 in Byron, Ballina, Lismore and Murwillumbah.

For program details and tickets, visit www.bbff.com.au.

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