A Feast Of Film & Fun!
The third Noosa International Film Festival (NIFF) has been declared a great success. Ian Pugh was our man on the blue carpet.
“I don’t know where to start – the location was amazing, national parks, beaches, summer, the ocean, everything was so beautiful. The team – you did such a fantastic job, thank you so much. Speakers from the industry, film premieres, locations – 10 out of 10! Thanks for your work guys, it was such a great time in beautiful Noosa. See you next year and all the best with everything you are working on.” Anastasia Dyakova, filmmaker (Film: Ready for a Baby)
For me, this message of gratitude from one of the 60 filmmakers that visited Noosa for this year’s Noosa International Film Festival (NIFF) speaks volumes. Firstly, it confirms what we know already – that Noosa really is a great location for a film festival.
Location is such an important drawcard (think of Cannes on the French Riviera) and Noosa and this festival do seem like such a perfect fit. But what I found even more encouraging was how much Anastasia enjoyed the festival itself – so much so that she plans to come back next year. Hopefully she will spread the word in the filmmaking community so that NIFF’s reputation can continue to grow.
The great news is that NIFF’s popularity is indeed on the rise and this was reflected in this year’s ticket sales. More than 1400 tickets were sold across the four-day festival which presented four feature films, 63 short films, and a number of industry workshops with award-winning filmmakers, cinematographers and editors like Heath Davis, John Seale and Jill Bilcock.
There was certainly a lot to like about this year’s festival. I thought the quality of the short films was generally high. The 63 short-listed films were chosen from 230 submissions and these came from all around the world.
As always, the awards ceremony at The J was enjoyable to watch (and well attended). So good to be able to watch all the winning films after the awards – and brilliant that one of the filmmakers came all the way from the UK to receive their award and to see their movie on the big screen for the first time.
Massive kudos must go to all the winners which included: El Nino for Best Drama, The Bookshop for Best Comedy, iRony for Best Animation, The Skydiver and the Scarecrow for Best Experimental, Best Director to Drew Macdonald for Creeper, Skin for Best Cinematography, Dead End for Best Editing, Petrel for Best Sound Design, Makers Who Inspire: Ben Baker for Best Documentary, and Best Young Filmmaker to Greta Nash for Locker Room.
The films were incredibly diverse – comedy, animation, documentary, experimental, thrillers – so it made sense that, for the first time, the short films were grouped together by genre (for example, “Women & Film”) which helped filmgoers select which sessions to attend. Not surprisingly, the “Laugh Out Loud” selection of short films (appropriately screened at the Land & Sea Brewery!) was a complete sell-out.
Another popular category was the environmentally- focused films shown at the Eumundi School of Arts. The highlight here was the documentary Living in the Future’s Past – a wake-up call to the world, narrated by Jeff Bridges – which also attracted a decent crowd.
My favourite (“Inside Cinema”) industry event was the screening of the film Jill Bilcock: Dancing the Invisible which was followed by a Q&A with Jill Bilcock. The documentary itself (directed by Swedish- Australian Axel Grigor) was very well made, and what a treat afterwards to hear Jill chatting about her amazing career (and life!). For those who don’t know, Jill Bilcock is one of Australia’s most highly regarded film editors having edited many wellknown movies such as Baz Luhrmann’s Romeo + Juliet and Strictly Ballroom, and more recently Sue Maslin’s The Dressmaker.
The premiere this year (screened after the opening party) was Book Week, directed by Heath Davis. I thought Book Week was well directed with some excellent performances but I found the story itself a little underwhelming. The Q&A with Heath afterwards (hosted by John Caruso) was interesting, especially hearing how he got the film made (a crowd-funding campaign while teaching part-time) – certainly a monumental achievement.
I know we all hope that, as NIFF continues to grow in reputation and popularity, it will attract even bigger films, perhaps with a few stars. A big name star in Noosa – think of the photo opportunities and how that will attract attention to NIFF and Noosa! I’m sure that day will come because the good news is that NIFF is definitely moving in the right direction.
Finally, a massive shout-out must go to Festival President Holly Pitman and her band of intrepid organisers and volunteers.
An amazing amount of work goes into organising these events and this hardworking, friendly team pulled it off with smiles aplenty. All in all, it felt like “the fun factor” was dialled up at NIFF this year with live music between sessions and lots of festive get-togethers. The organisers should be proud and so should the festival’s partners, many of whom were local businesses.
We can’t wait for next year!
IN Noosa Magazine was proud to support the Festival through printing the program in our spring edition as well as providing digital media support and event emcee John Caruso. Download the Conversations in Noosa podcast with Festival President Holly Pitman; discover Ian Pugh’s own film project; and meet Jon Coppola, another Noosa local who is active in film making and is related to Francis Ford Coppola (of The Godfather movie trilogy).