The 9th Byron Bay International Film Festival, March 6-15, Australia’s independent showcase for the edgiest filmmakers on the planet – announced its official program selection for 2015 and list of award nominees.
The highlights include:
- A Special Presentation from actor David Wenham and director Paul Cox about their latest collaboration, Force Of Destiny, with selections from the film.
- Frackman, the topical documentary tracing the journey of an everyday bloke wanting to build a home in Tara, Qld, who finds himself in a stand-off with CSG miners and is forced to become an activist, finding romance along with the radicalism. Nominee: Best Film. Best Environmental Film. Festival Premiere.
- Will And Testament, a full-length and intimate portrait of firebrand British MP Tony Benn, a politician of great integrity who fought tirelessly against privilege, inequality, the Bomb and Thatcherism. A timely reminder of what integrity politics looks like. Opening Night Film. Nominee: Best Documentary. International Premiere.
- Zen And the Art of Dying, Broderick Fox (The Skin I’m In) made this film after he met Northern Rivers marriage celibrant and “deathwalker” Zenith Virago at BBFF 2012. An uplifting documentary about empowering the dying. Fox will be at the festival. Closing Night Film. World Premiere.
- A Fighting Season, tough US feature drama telling the story of two Army Recruiters who face the daunting pressures of recruitment while their own deployment is on the line. Nominee: Best Film. Best Dramatic Feature. World Premiere.
- Cut Snake, Tony Ayres (The Slap) returns to the big screen with a masterful crime thriller with depth and a unique twist in its tail. Set in 1970s Melbourne, this nail biter will have you questioning your loyalties. Starring Sullivan Stapleton, Alex Russell and Jessica De Gouw. Nominee: Best Film. Best Dramatic Feature.
- Dying To Know, a fascinatiing study of Timothy Leary, mastermind of the psychedelic revolution, and his inner-space exploring soul-mate Richard Alpert, who went East and became Ram Dass. It details Leary’s dying days, still the hedonist and seeker, comforted by his spiritual side-kick. Special Sneak Preview.
- Bereave, romantic thriller starring screen legends Malcolm McDowell and Jane Seymour in a taut drama about a man facing death who is shocked back into life to protect those he loves. Australian Premiere.
- Sunday, a full-length showcase of the many talents of NSW North Coast star (McLeod’s Daughters, Underbelly, Spartacus) Dustin Clare: writer, actor, co-producer, in a mature romance examining how our freedom to choose can make commitment difficult. With Clare’s off-screen partner Camille Keenan. Nominee: Best Dramatic Feature. Australian Premiere.
- Cabras, Where Fables Are Born, a magical place on the west coast of Sardinia, famed for its natural beauty and the creativity of its people, some of whom even use the natural features to make music. Nominee: Best Film. Best Documentary. World Premiere.
- There are surfing films aplenty at BBFF 2015 but the gloriously-shot What The Sea Gives Me also looks at fishermen, divers and researchers, in an effort to define their fascination, even obsession, with the world’s oceans. Nominee: Best Surf Film. Byron Premiere.
- Take Me To The River celebrates the soul-filled music that has moved millions. The Stax sound is recreated and made fresh when a new generation of musicians join the legends to record an album – cutting across age, race, gender, as in the studio’s heyday. Australian Premiere.
- They fly through the air with the greatest of ease … the Flying Gaonas were the trapeze masters of their day and the doco The Flight Fantastic shows them in all their glory. Nominee: Best Film. Australian Premiere.
- Lethal epidemics are in the headlines, but none so sinister as that in horror masterpiece III, nor demanding entry into the victims’ deepest subconscious to cure them – or to just practise playing God. Nominee: Best Cinematography. Australian Premiere.
- Jalanan (Streetside), documentary about three buskers working the buses and clogged streets of Jakarta, living on their wits and meagre donations. Full of life and courage. Winner of the Best Documentary award at the Busan Film Festival for its study of life on Indonesia’s margins. Nominee: Best Documentary.
- Into The Void, a docu-drama in which real-life journo Emily Siu searches for ghosts in the clouds of incense fume and firecracker smoke in Macao.
- Secret Sharer, a seductive mystery set on the China Seas, in which a young captain embarked on a dodgy mission rescues a beautiful woman from a storm-wrecked boat. He hides her, but there are consequences. Australian Premiere.
Byron Bay International Festival Director J’aimee Skippon-Volke says, “This year’s Official Selection is of an exceptionally high quality, with superb films in both the dramatic feature and documentary feature categories and an exciting range of shorter films.
“Our theme this year is “Magic happens in the dark” and we’re urging film lovers to ditch the downloads and celebrate the unique collective experience we only gain in front of the big screen. BBFF2015 is a call to leave the comfort of the couch and dive deep into all that the festival has to offer.”
With solid year-on-year annual growth and a record of more than 1,000 films submitted for entry this year from 72 countries, Skippon-Volke says BBFF is now the country’s biggest regional film festival and is fast becoming a ‘must do’ for independent filmmakers the world over.
A record number of filmmakers are on their way to Byron Bay, from such far corners as Azerbaijan, Ireland, the US, Britain, Canada, Italy and also New Zealand.
“We’ve been blown away by the buzz and support the festival is getting from film communities overseas,” says Skippon-Volke. “Word has spread pretty fast that Byron Bay is fearlessly creative and expressive. And they love that our audiences are film-savvy, very passionate, receptive and laid-back.
“We’ve got a lot of filmmakers heading here for the first time and they are very excited about coming to Australia and being part of this unique festival that they’re hearing so much about. ”
“Our festival-goers are in for a treat,” Skippon-Volke said.
BBFF2015 will screen across six venues in four towns: the Byron Community Centre, Palace Cinemas and Pighouse Flicks in Byron Bay; the Star Court Theatre, Lismore, Ballina Fair Cinemas, Ballina, and Regent Cinemas, Murwillumbah.