Like the native parrot from which it derives its name, Australia's newest film festival is making a lot of noise.
Having conquered the rural film festival scene with the iconic Dungog Film Festival (DFF) event, ma-and-pa movie mavens Stavros Kazantzidis and Allanah Zisterman have drawn a line in Sydney’s film festival sand with the just-announced program highlights for The Cockatoo Island Film Festival (CIFF), their start-up off-shore event.
At this morning’s media event on the historically significant atoll, the organising committee (which includes DFF dynamo Laura MacDonald and ex-Mardi Gras Film Festival programmer Lex Lindsay) announced that Paul Thomas Anderson’s The Master, starring Joaquin Phoenix (pictured, right) will kick-off the competitive film strand of the multi-tiered cultural event on October 24. Securing one of the most buzzed-about films of the year is a major coup for a first-year festival and signals to the well-established Sydney Film Festival body that there is a new and determined player in town.
Though the full 100-strong feature film programme will not be revealed until early October, buff’s appetites were further whetted with the news that Tim Burton’s 3-D monochromatic kidspic Frankenweenie will have its Australian premiere at one of 5 digital-screen locations to be erected especially for CIFF. The portmanteau work 7 Days in Havana, featuring short-format contributions from directors as diverse as Laurent Cantet, Julio Medem, Benicio del Toro and Gaspar Noe, will head-up the Festival’s international section. And the hinted-at schedule of late-night genre pics was kick-started by news that the NSW premieres of Frank Kahlfoun’s Maniac, a remake of William Lustig’s 80’s video-nasty cult item and starring Elijah Wood as the titular stalker, and Justin Dix’s Oz shocker Crawlspace will be central to the event.
Mirroring the community-friendly slant that Kazantzidis and Zisterman (pictured, right, on the new site) have always adopted as part of their Dungog schedule, CIFF will feature all-age, all-day Kidsfest screenings, the Oovie-sponsored Schools Film Project and host the always pertinent SPAA Fringe event, with international guest Larry Cohen (It’s Alive; Q The Winged Serpent) and representatives from Matchbox Pictures, Screen Australia, Screen NSW, Essential Media, BBC Worldwide, Movie Network, ABC TV, SBS, AFTRS, Metro Screen, Pozible and Film Finances in attendance.