The Music Void
May 31, 2011
Venue: A Town Like Dungog
Places of Interest: James Picture Theatre, the oldest continuously running cinema in Australia
I was lucky enough to attend the 5th Annual Dungog Film Festival (DFF), 27th – 29th May, over the weekend. The Dungog Film Festival is a celebration of cinema, the world’s biggest festival of Australian films, and has grown from a small festival of under 2,000 attendees to over 10,000 attendees this year, with over two hundred screenings, masterclasses, workshops and seminars.
So why did TMV venture out to catch the best of Australian cinema?
Acclaimed playwright and screenplay writer David Williamson was in attendance, for one thing. Better known as a playwright, Williamson wrote the screenplays for great Australian films such as Gallipoli, The Year of Living Dangerously, The Club and his new feature, Face To Face.
If the opportunity to watch these brilliant Australian films again wasn’t reason enough – and yes, I know, I know, if only it was, but it wasn’t – the Australian Performing Rights Association (APRA) generously flew out several talented composers to launch gala events and host invaluable workshops for composers, producers, writers and directors. World-renowned music composer Lisa Gerrard, for example, member of iconic band Dead Can Dance, who designed the beautiful soundtrack for Oranges and Sunshine, acclaimed actor Hugo Weaving’s new feature, yet another of the many premiere screenings at DFF 2011.
As many will know, Gerrard’s music has long since infused Hollywood blockbusters like Gladiator, Black Hawk Down, Heat, The Insider, and Whale Rider, among others, with more emotion than your average box of tissues can handle. (The Music Void’s interview with Gerrard will be posted next week). Oranges and Sunshine is based around the true story of the deplorable practice of British authorities, from the 1940’s till as late as 1970, of taking young impoverished infants from their parents and deporting them to orphanages in Australia. The children were told their parents were dead, when often they were not, and all with the full acquiescence of the Australian authorities, I might add. Oranges and Sunshine really hit this viewer in the heart!
APRA also brought out contemporary music composer Michael Yezerski to undertake workshops for the budding composer out there. Yezerski and Co. performed a live accompaniment to a screening of “The Lost Thing”, the Academy Award winning short based on Shaun Tan’s famous picture book, narrated by Tim Minchin. (TMV’s interview with Yezerski will also be posted over the coming weeks).
It was great to see a performing rights organisations supporting film composers in such a way as well as sponsoring workshops at a film festival.
Well done APRA!
The documentary, “Charles Blackman: An imprint in Time”, directed by Darryn Hahn was another stand-out screening at DFF 2011. On a personal level, I learnt a lot about this critically acclaimed Australian painter and look forward to visiting the galleries that exhibit his art but I know, I know, it’s all about the music, and yes it was. ARIA award winning Bertie Blackman wrote and performed the closing track in the documentary, an intelligent pop song about her relationship with her father. Be still my beating… Eh, just get thee to a tissue box.
So! DFF 2011 presented features films, shorts, documentaries, digital discussions, and educational workshops, an event that delivered serious value to both established and emerging Australian film and music personnel. The educational element ensured that the new breed coming through our ranks at a fast pace were well catered for. The festival even had a competition with young directors pitching their ideas to a panel of seasoned screen veterans.
TMV would like to thank the organisers Allanah Zitserman and Stavros Kazantzidiz for an extremely well put together film festival, and Laura Macdonald, for curating such a beautiful orchestra of films. We look forward to attending in 2012!
Keep your eye out for our exclusive interviews with both Michael Yezerski and Lisa Gerrard over the coming weeks.