18th St George Bank Brisbane International Film Festival
Australia, July 30 - August 9 2009
The St George Bank Brisbane International Film Festival has always been well-regarded for its generous hospitality and adventurous and exciting programme. There are some dramatic changes ahead for the festival in years to come—from a move in the 2010 calendar from late-July to late-November, to the very real possibility that in the first time in its eighteen-year history, the festival may need to find a new home as the Regent Cinemas face destruction.
This year, there is an extensive world cinema programme drawing in some extraordinary films from countries as diverse as the Czech Republic (Bathory), Uruguay (Gigante), and Sri Lanka (Flowers of the Sky); and the daring ASTERISKS* programme focuses on ‘a reappreciation of the physical properties of film’, and offers some disturbing and exciting imagery. This festival also never disappoints cult film fans, with its up-late programme Shock Corridor featuring films including the Norwegian zombie Nazi schlocker Dead Snow, and the ‘psychedelic hillbilly-gothic revenge piece’ White Lightnin’. While there are some special events screening at venues including the Australian Cinémathèque at GoMA and The Tivoli (QNFA Awards), nearly all of the festival is screening at The Regent Cinemas on the Queen St Mall, so this may have been one of our last opportunities to enjoy BIFF in the austerity of this Queensland treasure.
The festival also supports four competitions: the FIPRESCI and NETPAC Awards; an Interfaith Award for promoting Humanitarian Values; and the Translink Cine Sparks Award, an Australian Film Festival for Young People Award that provides a voice for young Queensland filmmakers.
The FIPRESCI Jury—comprising Tina Kaufman (Australia), Ken-Ichi Okubo (Japan) and Tim Milfull (Australia)—considered a competition that included films from Iran, Australia, Sri Lanka, India, Turkey, the Philippines, Kazakhstan, Japan, and South Korea, before finally choosing Robert Connolly’s Balibo (2009) in recognition of the courage of both the filmmakers and their subjects—six brave, doomed journalists—who chose to seek answers to disturbing questions and, in turn, have prompted so many more. Happily for Connolly and his team, Balibo also was awarded the festival’s Interfaith Award. (Tim Milfull)
St George Bank Brisbane International Film Festival: www.stgeorgebiff.com.au