There’s still plenty of time to soak in cinematic wonders from around the world at the Byron Bay Film Festival.
With Australia’s top talents presenting their latest work, and award-winning filmmakers flying in from around the world, the second half of BBFF2015 promises to be just as stimulating as the first.
The festival is also proud to showcase nine films by Young Australian Filmmakers on Saturday afternoon. From the wildly funny operatic pastiche Did I Tell You About Jasper? to a three-minute gem by 16-year-old Ballina lad Jayden Morrison about his friend, Muay Thai champ Brodie Stanton, you’ll see that the future of independent filmmaking is in safe creative hands.
Among the big drawcards is Tony Ayres (The Slap) and his tense crime drama Cut Snake, set in 1970s Melbourne.
When Pommie gets out of prison he seeks out his old cellmate Sparra for a new life of crime. But Sparra’s been ‘getting square’, and wants to settle down with his girl (Jessica De Gouw). A clash is inevitable and the tension is palpable, but there’s much more to the story than two old crims locking horns. It’s masterful filmmaking, and on Saturday morning Ayres will run an Australian Directors’ Masterclass workshop on it.
The weekend is loaded with other workshops too, on Adaptations, ABC Open opportunities and Sexuality on Screen.
American Tom Moore will be in Byron to present The Flight Fantastic, a doco about a subject dear to his heart – the flying trapeze.
Moore’s life hasn’t been the same since he discovered the trapeze about 15 years ago and his passion fuels this thrilling film about legendary circus family The Flying Gaonas.
The Flight Fantastic is Moore’s first doco, but he is a famed director of feature films and Broadway shows such the original production of Grease.
Another showbiz film, Showfolk, made by Australian director Ned McNeilage, brings audiences up to date with seven Hollywood ‘lifers’ who now reside in the Motion Picture & Television Fund old folks’ home.
McNeilage was struck by the happiness he found among the golden era veterans.
‘I knew there was something there for me to learn from,’ he says – and we feel the same way, as they share the wisdom garnered over seven lifetimes in the business.
Showfolk precedes one of the festival’s heavy hitters – Bereave, a film made by the Giovanis brothers and starring Malcolm McDowell and Jane Seymour.
Screen-Space reviewer Simon Foster says Bereave is ‘an achingly insightful, darkly humorous, richly rewarding work’. Not to be missed.
Evangelos Giovanis is at the festival, and looking forward to sharing his film and discussing it with audiences. It’s so good I’s screening it twice – in Byron and Ballina.
Another top-drawer drama is A Fighting Season, which will be introduced by its writer and director Oden Roberts. As the surge in Iraq promises progress, the cost mounts and even those sidelined from the conflict find themselves fighting battles far from the frontline.
Some of the festival’s finest surfing films are screeningmtonight (Wednesday, March 11), with a dollop of showbiz adding extra sweetness.
In Learning to Float we watch a kid from the mean streets of the ‘hood discover the joys of riding the wave and transforming himself from obese outcast to athlete and mentor. It’s genuinely inspiring.
Brazil in the 70s was a military state with resultant appalling environmental damage, but the youth found a way to escape the misery – in the surf and on the beach. They look back at those euphoric days in 1970 Something.
Two of the festival’s most impressive shorts are on beforehand – Coral, set in Samoa, and A Mile in These Hooves, a funny, touching tale of brotherhood, obsession and a cross-country pilgrimage in a two-person donkey suit.
There’s more surfing on screen on Thursday too – the adventure, the outreach, the rewards enjoyed or thrown away.
Oney Anwar – Chasing the Dream is a heart-warming success story, of a boy from a village in Indonesia whose talent on the board springs him free of poverty.
Prodigiously gifted Aussie Shane Herring, on the other hand, had the world at his feet and chose to walk away. He tells us why in Journey On.
The gripping environmental doco Black Ice screens earlier in the day.
Friday the 13th promises to be a specially freaky fright night, so scare yourself witless – and revel in the macabre joys of cutting-edge horror – at Pighouse Flicks’ screening of III. As an appetiser, Stuffed, by Australian Warwick Young sets the mood nicely, with a streak of humour thrown in.
The Pighouse plays host to some of the festival’s most exotic, visually arresting films, with a love story from Serbia (Cholchu) and men making life tough for themselves by seeking new paths to the top of Mount Roirama in South America (and navigating their way through mystical jungle on the way, in Jager des Augenblicks, or Roirama – Climbers of the Lost World).
Up the road at Palace Cinemas on Friday, broad British comedy Almost Married will tickle funny bones while on Sunday The Center will creep you out with its portrayal of a cult offering needy Ryan a safe haven. Executive produced by Jonathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs), The Center is as intense and hypnotic as its sinister subject.
Saturday night sees the Gala Closing Night and Broderick Fox’s Zen and the Art of Dying, a study of the work carried out by local life-and-death celebrant Zenith Virago.
Byronians allowed Fox into the most personal and significant moments of their lives for the film, which challenges our hide-bound and fearful approach to death.
But the film fiesta doesn’t finish there.
On Sunday, watch men on motorbikes in two very different manifestations, one a rickety old banger (Moped Diaries), the other some of the fastest machines on Earth pushed to their limit by speed record obsessives (Out of Nothing).
Finally is Cabras Where Fables are Born, which will waft you home on a cloud of joyful wonder in the creative talents to be found on the western side of Sardinia – and on the screens in Byron and surrounds during BBFF2015.
Don’t miss out …