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Sunday, August 10, 2008

My BIFF Experience

Tonight, the 17th Annual Brisbane International Film Festival comes to a close with a sold out screening of John Maybury's The Edge Of Love. For me, this has been one of the most interesting BIFF's that I've been able to attend. Usually, I've only ever attended one - maybe two - movies that screened at BIFF. I remember seeing The American Nightmare in the State Library Theatrette on my 18th birthday, Donnie Darko (before it became the huge cult movie it since has) in the Myer Centre while the Regent was being refurbed, and I remember seeing This Film Is Not Yet Rated at the Centro last year which has yet to get a general release in Australia (yet appeared with an MA rating on World Movies earlier this year).

This year was definitely my favourite BIFF yet. I highly regret not volunteering and getting even more involved in the festival.

I ended up seeing four films, all of which I rated quite well, and I encourage you to see them when they come out in general release.
  • Not Quite Hollywood - as cool as I thought it would be. The highest energy documentary I've seen in some time. See my post elsewhere about it. Getting a general release in a few weeks.

  • Son of Rambow - this was my favourite of the four I saw. Saying the title to people will bring up ideas of what the movie is about, but it's not even close. I got choked up in the last scene. It was so incredibly sweet and nostalgiac and the two boys in the lead role were extraordinarily good. I compared it to Billy Elliott (little boys with dreams beyond their locations) and am putting it up there with Dark Knight as one of the best movies I've seen this year. General release in Australia on September 4th.

  • Acolytes - co-written by my screenwriting tutor (who remembered me when he sat in front of me in the audience), a serial killer thriller about three high school kids who try and blackmail a local serial killer (Joel Edgerton) into murdering a bully who tormented them. But all is not as it seems... More than a few jumps and scares in it, it had a chilling twist at the end. The Glasshouse Mountains never looked so creepy. Wait, yes they did. It's screening in Toronto, and getting a general release in Oz in 2009.

  • Three Blind Mice - Matthew Newton's completely independent shoestring budget movie shot on HD was screened on DigiBeta (they couldn't yet afford a film print), and followed three naval officers in Sydney for one night only before shipping out for another 6 months at sea - one is considering going AWOL after an incident on their ship, one wants to see his fiancee one last time and the other just wants to party hard. Shot entirely at night over two and half weeks, it features a dazzling array of recognizable Aussie actors who pop up completely unexpectedly (won't give them away ;) . Dragged a bit, but it was definitely the little movie that could of all the ones I saw. Solid performances from all involved. It's some promising stuff from Matt Newton. No word on a general release yet though.

I also made it to a very useful seminar hosted by the Australian Film Television And Radio School about how to actual go about entering things into festivals, tips on formats, planning, shipping, etc. Well worth the two hours and $15.

Interestingly, three of the four movies I saw at this "international" film festival were Australian. The advantage of this was that those Australian movies which screened enabled the filmmakers themselves to attend. Not Quite Hollywood was attended by Mark Hartley (director), Antony Ginnane (infamous producer), Brian Trenchard-Smith (director of Turkey Shoot and BMX Bandits), etc. Acolytes was locally made, so there was the writers, the director, producers, costume designers, you name it. It was a sold out session with the home crowd. Matt Newton came to the screening of Three Blind Mice with Gracie Otto (his female lead/editor/girlfriend, who I briefly talked to afterwards about editing - she was self taught as well, awesome!). Matt looked tired, like he'd had a night out the night before, possibly because there was a screening the night before as well, but he was still chipper and interesting during the Q&A.

For the first time, I felt the same way about BIFF as I did about when I first attended the Comedy Festival at Melbourne - you can just go up to the filmmakers/performers at the end, say hey, congratulations and a chat. And they love it, they don't think you're weird. Granted, it's a film festival, so the audience could sometimes be a little snootier than comedy club audiences, but still, it was great for there to be an actual festival atmosphere for once at BIFF.

Congratulations and well done to all involved. :)

--

Big regret? Not volunteering. Will remedy this next year.

Bigger regret? Not seeing Turkey Shoot, Long Weekend or The Man From Hong Kong on the big screen.

Slightly bigger regret? Not going to the Ozploitation seminar at GoMA because I was scared I'd have nothing to add to the proceedings. You idiot.

Biggest regret of the festival? Being too chickenshit to not say hello to the Spierig brothers and tell them that I got top marks for an uni essay I wrote on Undead and I think they're the bees knees. Mike and Pete, if you read this, I'm sorry and thank you. :)

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