THIS year marks a ground-breaking milestone for the Byron Bay International Film Festival (BBFF) as they celebrate their 10th festival.
At the anniversary festival BBFF will activate discussion, investigation, incorporation and celebration of creative technology and, in particular, the rapidly growing immersive storytelling and creative opportunities created by virtual and augmented reality.
Local film making will be at the core of the festival, as it has been since its inception.
This year, the festival will include features in genres such as animation, environmental, experimental, feature documentary, short doco, short film, surf and young Australian film-maker.
There will be two red carpet gala events: the opening and closing nights on October 14 and 22.
In total, the festival will include 180 films screened in four venues: Murwillumbah, Ballina and two Byron Bay locations: Pig House Flicks and the Byron Theatre. The best part of both events is that attendees get to frock up and celebrate film making.
These are just some of the local films you can expect at the festival, held in Byron Bay from October 14 to 23.
- The Bentley Effect by Brendan Shoebridge, Alstonville.
The Bentley Effect is a powerful documentary about the growth of the social movement that blocked the incursion of CSG exploration into the Northern Rivers, will have its world premiere at the Byron Bay Film Festival in October.
Made by Alstonville father Brendan Shoebridge, the film is primarily a celebration of the power of ordinary people to stand up to and defeat corporate forces intent on steam-rolling community wishes.
It is also a testimony to their courage and creativity, and to what it cost in blood, sweat and tears, as well as an important and necessary historical record.
When the Northern Rivers community found their home being threatened by gasfield industrialisation, a critical mass of citizens from all walks of life responded to the call.
Their deep love of the land led to a massive social movement and a historic showdown in Bentley.
The film is emotionally charged: joyful at times (the knitting nannas sense of humour and resolute citizens singing Christmas carols) and gutting at others, as vulnerable people are dragged away and men weep at seeing country despoiled.
Shoebridge said the film tells the story of true local heroes.
"The beauty of the story is that a real threat was combated by real people in our own backyard," he said.
"They were true heroes."
- Marijuana Australiana by Richard Baron, Mullumbimby.
Marijuana Australiana is a rambunctious, intelligent and timely documentary about the history of cannabis culture in Australia - from its beginnings as a recreational drug among the country's youth to its emergence into the mainstream as an alternative medicine - and the political posturing around it.
Richard Baron's informative and often funny film takes us to the nation's cannabis capital, Nimbin, where he captures the sheer anarchic merriment of the legalise-it movement in footage of the MardiGrass.
The Ganja Fairies Dance, the police join in a tug of war with the locals and everything seems rosy.
There are eye-opening and entertaining interviews with the smokers and reformers and the connoisseur breeders and growers, bush pharmacists behind the underground medical cannabis trade.
- Making Maude by Megan Kinninment, former Northern Rivers resident
Making Maude is part of a series of short documentaries produced by Kinninment profiling North Coast creatives.
Performing as Maude Boate, Lismore local Michael Gates took the drag queen scene by storm in Sydney in the 1990s with his unique sculptured polystyrene wigs.
What few people know is that the sculptured wigs in the Australian movie, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, were based on Michael's designs.
In the Making Maude documentary we meet Michael twenty years after Priscilla's heyday to find he's still making show-stopping costumes and wigs.
Making Maude charts Michael's transformation into his drag queen alter-ego, taking audiences behind the scenes to show how his flamboyant wigs are created.
- Hitch by Poppy Walker, Bangalow.
Hitch is a captivating story of a young, deaf boy in rural Australia who, when faced with unfortunate circumstances, runs away from home.
The young runaway (Xander Mclean) communicates the experience without saying a word, in a powerfully artistic portrayal of inner conflict and isolation.
It stars Aussie actor and multiple Logie Award winner Martin Sacks (Blue Heelers, Wentworth, Underbelly) in an artistically compelling depiction of love, support and hardship.
- Return by Jayden Morrison, Ballina.
Return is a non-verbal short film written, directed and produced by young Ballina film-maker Jayden Morrison that sees through the eyes of Australian surfers, backdropped by sweeping sandy coastlines and stretches of clear blue waters.
In under five minutes, Morrison provides a vibrant insight into his subjects and the ingrained connection between ocean and surfer, offering slow-motion vivid imagery as they glide through curling waves and give in to rough waters by diving beneath its surface.
Morrison simply summarises the film with the caption "we return to where we feel at home. For us, the ocean is home".
- The Lurra Collective by Toby Finlayson, Ocean Shores.
Maningrida is a multilingual, indigenous community in the heart of Arnhem Land. Here, storytelling is the way culture and knowledge is shared. This is a five-minute music video set against the backdrop of the Australian landscape.
As men and women sing in their native language by the red glow of fire in the bush land, you feel a sense of connection to this ancient culture. Bring in Declan Kelly on drums with back up vocals from Indigenous youth, and the result is an engaging, contemporary piece.
- For details visit www.bbff.com.au.
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