This morning's launch of the 2012 Dungog Film Festival program combined the three key elements that have inspired regular attendees to make the long haul to the rural mecca over the event’s 6 year history – Hunter region hospitality, Aussie films and beer.
From Newcastle’s iconic Honeysuckle Hotel, Festival Director Allanah Zisterman (pictured, below), co-founding member of the philanthropic industry initiative Cockatoo Institute with partner Stavros Kazantzidis, presented the line-up for this year’s event. Having long ago established must-attend status with industry-types, it is now also considered an annual tourism highlight with its inclusion on the NSW Events’ Master Calendar.
The three-day festivities kick-off on June 29 with the Opening Night film, Peter Templeman’s Not Suitable for Children. The contemporary comedy-drama recently won over the notoriously hard-to-please city-folk as the kickstarter for the current Sydney Film Festival. Those in town early can catch a special pre-launch screening of Penny Vozniak’s Despite The Gods, the Australian director’s vivid account of the Indian film that veered wildly of the rails under the guidance of director Jennifer Lynch.
Though the partially retooled event is offering a slightly condensed range when compared to past incarnations, the non-competitive celebration of Australian film culture and storytelling is still brimming with fresh visions from the nation’s new wave of filmmaking talent. One of the most buzzed-about titles on the international midnight-movie festival circuit, Paul China’s Crawl, will screen in the coveted Saturday Night slot; the director and star Georgina Haig will be in attendance.
Other features to experience the communal love that the township’s James Theatre engenders will be John Duigan’s Careless Love and Stuart Stanton’s Charlie Bonnett, as well as longform documentaries Between Home, from director Jack Rath, and the World Premiere of Michael O’Neill’s Grammar of Happiness (pictured, left). Visitors and locals alike will be thrilled to see ‘The James’ open for business once again; the historically-significant site shuttered for a long period, unable to afford the digital upgrade required to show many first-run features in this modern age.
Our film-making culture has always featured prominently at past Dungog events and this year is no different. 2012 sees a rare screening of Michael Rymer’s Angel Baby, winner of 7 AFI Awards; attending will be star Jacqueline McKenzie, who will reflect upon the film and the career opportunities its success presented. Also enjoying a long-overdue re-emergence will be animation legend Yoram Gross’ classic Dot and The Kangaroo, which organisers will screen at the Dungog Public School for visitors and students alike.
A vast shorts program numbering an incredible 60 locally-made minis has been collated in a strand of thematically-linked sessions, amongst them the conflict-based ‘Did a Bad Bad Thing’, the scary ‘Paranormal Activity’ selection, the male-centric ‘A Man’s Gotta Do’ films and three different student film sidebars. This year’s always-popular ‘In The Raw’ live script-reading will be of Andrea Rogers’ AWGIE-winning immigrant love-story Diving for Poland and will feature the voice talents of McKenzie, Ben O'Toole, Sophie Hensser and Anna Hruby.