This year’s Screenwave International Film Festival, which kicks off on January 9 and runs for 16 days, is bringing over 70 feature films from 20 countries to the Coffs Coast.
But homegrown talent is the largest strand on the festival program, with 14 films from emerging Australian filmmakers, including one from Bellingen.
Big-ticket items include festival-opener JoJo Rabbit from New Zealand comedy master Taika Waititi, who wrote, directed and stars in the film; award-winning French period drama Portrait of a Lady on Fire, about a lesbian romance between artist and subject; and The Peanut Butter Falcon, a heartwarming odyssey from the producers of Little Miss Sunshine.
The festival will go out on a high note with True History of the Kelly Gang, starring Russell Crowe, Essie Davis and George MacKay, which brings Peter Carey’s Booker Prize-winning story to the screen.
Festival venues are the Jetty Memorial Theatre in Coffs Harbour, which will host the majority of the films, and Bellingen Memorial Hall, which will show six days’ worth with some special touches for local audiences.
For the first time, SWIFF Live will play at the Memorial Hall, featuring two artist/researchers at the cutting edge of interactive live performance.
Called ‘Bending Light’, their show involves a fusion of man, body, light and music, with percussionist Alon Isar’s performance on stage being digitised and rendered as a visual display by Matt Hughes.
“Basically, the way that it works is that the musician performs live in front of a motion capture camera,” explained SWIFF co-director Dave Horsley.
“He has game controllers in his hands, and as he moves about a camera connected to a computer tracks his movements.
“He seemingly pulls these shapes and textures out of thin air as he makes music.”
The 55-minute performance is on January 13 from 7pm and will be followed by a Q&A session.
Another highlight for Bellingen will be a 40th anniversary screening of the comedy classic Airplane! (aka Flying High), a parody of 1970s big-budget disaster films.
Set to take off on January 18 at 6.30pm, it will also be an interactive experience, but how that will manifest is still a work in progress.
“We aren’t going to let the cat out of the bag on that one just yet,” Dave said.
Another work-in-progress is the screening of Monks of the Sacred Valley by Bellingen filmmaker Ryan Jasper on January 19 at 4pm.
Shot in the cinéma vérité style with the visuals and the subjects telling the story, the feature documentary is a candid, controversial look at the hidden world of Tibetan Buddhism now threatened by Chinese state-sanctioned demolitions and evictions.
The audience will see a 52-minute cut of the film ahead of the post-production phase, giving them a glimpse inside the filmmaking process.
“It’s the very first screening of [Ryan’s] very first feature film,” Dave said. “It’s shot gorgeously but it’s still that first cut where he hasn’t had the money to add all the post-production stuff that he wants. But the core of the story is there.”
For the full festival program check out https://swiff.com.au/ or grab one of the printed copies featuring Bellingen’s Tara Lynch on the cover.
And don’t miss the festival trailer below, the video mash-up of film clips with a soundtrack by Bellingen-based musician Scott Collins, who has merged music from Arnhem Land vocalist Christo Gulpilil with Bonville opera singer Michelle Der Kinderen.