May 20, 2007
Residents of Dungog will shine alongside some of the Australian movie industry’s brightest stars when the Hunter Valley town hosts its inaugural film festival this month.
The festival’s trailer, unveiled last week, features a host of "undiscovered talents" from the town at the foothills of the World Heritage-listed Barrington Tops National Park.
They include Dungog’s sole taxi driver Stephen "Sparrow" Farrow, 10-year-old schoolgirl Georgia Burns, mother-of-triplets and shire councillor Margaret Flannery, bricklayer turned champion cross-stitcher Trevor Brooker, and Ken Reeve, the long-time projectionist at the local James Theatre.
The theatre, the country’s oldest continuously run cinema, will be the headquarters of the festival, to be staged from May 31 to June 3.
Festival director and filmmaker Allanah Zitserman has also signed a host of big names to participate in the festival, including actor Hugo Weaving (Matrix, The Lord Of The Rings), who has a holiday home in the district.
"This is our first festival and we’ve been absolutely blown away by the response," Ms Zitserman said.
"I think people are attracted to having a showcase like this away from the hustle and bustle of the city, and all the red-carpet rah-rah that often goes with those events."
Weaving and At The Movies critic Margaret Pomeranz will officially open the festival. Acclaimed director Bruce Beresford will present a masterclass on filmmaking while directors Claire McCarthy, Michael James Rowland and Dee McLachlan will show their latest feature films.
All titles on the program – 12 features, five documentaries, 30 shorts and a few surprises from the vault, are Australian made.
Oscar-winning director Jane Campion, who has stayed at Ms Zitserman’s place, has been recruited to drum up further support for Dungog, which she calls a "treasure of a country town".
"It’s been great having people like Jane and Hugo Weaving involved because they’ve been to festivals all around the world," Ms Zitserman said.
"But everyone has been really supportive, probably because we’re putting the focus on Australian films and we’ve got such a beautiful, friendly town."
Source: The Sun-Herald