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As Queensland celebrates its 150th birthday this year, the Brisbane International Film Festival (July 30 – August 9) will highlight Queensland films, starting with the very first film to screen in the program, the short film Auntie Maggie and the Womba Wakgun, from Leah Purcell, screening before the opening night feature, An Education. Andrew L. Urban reports.

Leading the line-up in the Quintessentially Queensland section will be the world premiere of Subdivision, shot on location at Hervey Bay and co-written by and starring Brisbane Nova radio host, Ashley Bradnam. The comedy/drama, also starring Brooke Satchwell, Gary Sweet and a renowned Australian ensemble cast including many Queensland actors, focuses on the change a community goes through when city developers move in.

Subdivision will screen as one of the Festival’s special event films, to be joined by another Australian film with a strong Queensland connection – Prime Mover. Prime Mover, about the dreams of a long haul truckie, won the 2008 Premier’s Literary Award for best screenplay and features a predominantly Queensland-raised and trained cast including Michael Dorman, William McInnes, Anthony Hayes and Gyton Grantley.

"a tribute to its roots and its prominent role in the international festival landscape"

When Queensland Premiere Anna Bligh officially launched the festival, she said “The Festival has certainly evolved over the past 18 years and this year’s festival is a tribute to its roots and its prominent role in the international festival landscape.” This is the last year in which the event in held in July, moving to November from 2010, to coincide with the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (held on the Gold Coast) to enable the two events to share guests from the Asia Pacific region.

British actress Carey Mulligan, star of An Education, will be a guest at the opening night film, An Education, and Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia would attend closing night film Balibo, the dramatisation of the 1975 murder of five Australian journalists in East Timor. “We also welcome Subdivision’s Gary Sweet, Brooke Satchwell and Ash Bradnam; Prime Mover’s Michael Dorman; and the cast of Khoa Do’s Missing Water,” said the Premier.

"abstract, artistic and challenging films"

Ivan Sen’s new film, Dreamland, will have its premiere in the Asterisks* programme, a series of abstract, artistic and challenging films, and the sidebar that festival executive director Anne Démy-Geroe is most excited about. “It’s an exciting section that examines the physical properties of film,” she says. This ‘reappreciation” of the properties of film includes the new Austrian film Film Ist. A Girl & A Gun from Gustav Deutsch, reflecting on what film is. It’s the third in his masterly series of found-footage films, from silent to erotic to scientific footage. Also screening is the 1982 classic, Koyaanisqatsi from Godfrey Reggio and Shirin from Iran’s Abbas Kiarostami.

Demy Geroe is also excited about the closing day seminar, Indonesia Calling, which explores Indonesian film; references include closing night film, Balibo, David Bradbury’s My Asian Heart, Mega Doneman’s Yes Madam, Sir, David MacDougall’s Gandhi’s Chidlren and John Hughes’ Indonesia Calling, which revisits Australia’s early relationship with Indonesia, immediately after the war.

Other Australian films screening are Blessed, from Ana Kokkinos, Khoa Do’s Missing Water and Jonathan auf der Heide’s Van Diemen’s Land.

The Festival program also includes some fascinating docos, including Hair India, which looks at the enormous trade in human hair from both the sellers’ and buyers’ side, and how hair is almost like currency for some poor Indians. Another enticing doco is Secret Museums, which explores the hidden world of the collectors who amass erotica and also collections held by major institutions – behind locked doors. Here’s the chance to unlock those doors.

"all the major sponsors have actually increased their commitments"

When planning this year’s festival in the midst of the global financial crisis, the Festival organisers were concerned that sponsorship support levels would decline and thus reduced the overall size of the event by dropping two venues (the two Palace cinemas), making the program smaller. In the end, though, all the major sponsors have actually increased their commitments. “We are very grateful,” says Démy-Geroe.

The full program and tickets for St.George Bank BIFF are all at www.stgeorgebankbiff.com.au

Published July 23, 2009

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An Education

The full program and tickets for St.George Bank BIFF are all at OFFICIAL WEBSITE


Hair India



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