Screen News in Brief: Brisbane Film Festival goes back to the cinemas

BIFF unveils highlights, MIFF gets ready to go, Screen Australia enterprise recipients and new global initiative for female and non binary creative teams.

Heading North (we wish) to BIFF

  • Writing from the darkness of Victoria’s lockdown it’s a breath of fresh air to imagine a warmer, freer world in Queensland, with the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF) being the first big Australian film festival to go back to the cinemas, from 1 – 11 October.
  • Presented by the Queensland Art Gallery/ Gallery of Modern Art (QAGOMA) through its Australian Cinémathèque, the fest will also screen across venues including Dendy Cinemas Coorparoo, The Elizabeth Picture Theatre, New Farm Six Cinemas, Reading Cinemas Newmarket and the State Library of Queensland. Even reading that pretty list of names feels like a holiday.
  • BIFF’s opening night film is the Australian premiere of Stephen Maxwell Johnson’s High Ground, which first showed at Berlin in January.
  • The second film from Johnson (Yolgnu Boy), High Ground is written by Chris Anastassiades and produced by David Jowsey, Maggie Miles and Greer Simpkin. It’s shot in the Northern Territory and stars Simon Baker, Jacob Junior Nayinggul, Jack Thompson and Aaron Pedersen. BIFF’s Artistic Director, Amanda Slack-Smith, describes it as ‘a moving story set in the early twentieth century, inspired by Australia’s untold history, exploring family and legacy as it grapples with the country’s past.’
  • High Ground editor Jill Bilcock and star Jack Thompson have been announced as this year’s BIFF patrons.
  • Other BIFF bright spots include the closing night film, the world premiere of Nel Minchin and Wayne Blair’s Firestarter: The Story of Bangarra, ‘a compelling and vivid documentary about the evolution of Bangarra Dance Theatre and its Artistic Director Stephen Page’.
  • There’s also Combat Wombat 2020, the second animated feature in the ‘Sanctuary City’ trilogy by Brisbane-based production company Like A Photon; and A Moment in the Sun, a documentary on the development of the locally-built solar assisted Solar Tandem bicycle in the 1980s, led by Dr Ugur Ortabasi, founding director of the UQ’s Solar Energy Research Centre. Lots of sunshine to consider there.
  • The complete BIFF 2020 festival program will be live with tickets on sale from late August. Fingers crossed the State borders hold against the virus.

At Home with MIFF

  • There’s no denying the deep grief so many of us feel in missing the Melbourne International Film Festival’s usual round of freezing queues, star-studded parties and live & smelly screenings. The urbane buzz you get from worshipping at Cinephile Church is irreplaceable. Nevertheless, the upside of this year’s online version is the fact it has national reach (though tickets are still limited).
  • MIFF 68½ screens from 6 – 23 August. There are 60 features and 44 shorts. Opening night film (First Cow), mid-festival gala (Wendy) and closing night film (Ema) are all appointment viewing, while everything else is streamed. Programs like the shorts are free, though most are ticketed. More coverage from us to come.
  • Read our interview with Artistic Director Al Cossar for program highlights and insights, with recommendations for key films for screen-makers to watch.

Screen Australia announces Enterprise Funding Recipients

  • Screen Australia has announced funding for four Enterprise People talent opportunities and 11 Enterprise Business & Ideas projects, which will share in a total of over $1 million.
  • One of the major Enterprise Business & Ideas funding recipients is Attagirl, a narrative feature film lab from Sophie Mathisen, Executive Director of advocacy organisation For Film’s Sake. (See below for more on Attagirl.)
  • Other major recipients include:  Information + Cultural Exchange and Diversity Arts Australia, who have received support towards developing Diversity on Screen to improve access to opportunities for underrepresented filmmakers; Documentary Australia Foundation to enhance its digital platform to better connect filmmakers and supporters online; as well as Frame, Australia’s first incubator program for documentary filmmakers working with emerging media and technologies.
  • Other recipients include Damon Gameau and Anna Kaplan, to develop a business model for their new production company Regen Studios; Producer Taryn Laffar for her company Pink Pepper; and actor Adrienne Couper Smith to undertake online Intimacy Coordinator training with the Intimacy Professionals Association in Los Angeles. Read the full release here.

Read more: Anna Kaplan – you have to live and breathe your message

Attagirl invites applications for global film lab supporting female filmmakers

  • Australian advocacy organisation For Film’s Sake is calling for applications for Attagirl, an intensive narrative feature film development lab running in 2020/21 and 2021/22, supported by Screen Australia’s Enterprise Business and Ideas program. Attagirl will see up to 12 majority female and/or non-binary creative teams participate in a 10-month incubator program designed to support the development trajectory of narrative features in an increasingly digitally-focused marketplace. Applications close midnight AEDT August 16th. More details here.

AIDC announces dates for 2021 

Must See: Running Free Live – The Healing Ahead

  • The State and Federal funding bodies have proven essential to keeping Australian screen production going during the pandemic. This month’s Running Free Live – an ACMI digital program in association with Media Mentors (see our regular Ask the Mentor columns)  –  gathers the Heads of these funding bodies to share what they are doing as well as their views on the future of production in Australia.
  • Panelists include: Caroline Pitcher, CEO of Film Victoria, Grainne Brunsdon, Head of Screen NSW, Jennie Hughes, Director of Screen Territory; Kate Croser, CEO of South Australian Film Commission; Kylie Munnich, CEO of Screen Queensland; Monica Penders, CEO of Screen Canberra; Sally Caplan, Head of Content, Screen Australia; Willie Rowe, CEO of ScreenWest; Alex Sangston, Executive Manager of Screen Tasmania.
  • Catch Running Free Live: The Healing Ahead, Thursday, 6 August 7 – 7.30pm at The video of the event will be available afterwards too.

Prototype Care Packages are back

  • Curator Lauren Carroll-Harris has launched another series of her Prototype video art work project that delivers new short works weekly by email to subscribers.
  • Billed as ‘a rapid-response series for lockdown’ Prototype gives audiences creative work to watch during home isolation, and provides artists with pay and work in the new economic climate. Each new piece is screened online until it’s replaced by the next, and the whole season will be collected and archived on Prototype’s website when the project wraps.
  • This week’s offering is Lithic Coda (2020) by UK-based artist and Soda_Jerk collaborator Sam Smith, taking us to the volcanic island of Gotland, Sweden. Next week (5 August) it’s Qiuzhuang (2020) by Sari Braithwaite and Katie Mitchell; and on 12 August there’s Tarun (2020) by Darwin-born artist Tiyan Baker, returning to her mother’s birthplace in Sarawak to learn the Bidayuh language and understand the jungle culture that could have been her own. View and subscribe here.

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Rochelle Siemienowicz is a journalist for Screenhub. She is a writer, film critic and cultural commentator with a PhD in Australian cinema. She was the co-host of Australia's longest-running film podcast 'Hell is for Hyphenates' and has written a memoir, Fallen, published by Affirm Press. You can find her on Twitter and Instagram