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29/4/2010: ANNE DEMY-GEROE DEPARTS BRISBANE FILM FEST

The longest continuously serving film festival director in Australia, Anne Demy-Geroe has resigned from the Brisbane International Film festival after 18 years – and has been farewelled with tributes and acclaim for her outstanding work with the Festival.

Demy-Geroe will now complete her PhD in Iranian cinema.


Andrew L. Urban & Anne Demy-Geroe cross Christmas holiday paths in Salzburg. Photo: Louise Keller

Demy-Geroe’s personal highlights from her 18 festivals:
1992
The petite Agnès Varda, who initially thought I might be related to Jaques, standing over the cinema manager to effect daily changes of the cinema hoardings for the films in her retrospective.

1993
Premières of The Puppet Master, The Blue Kite, The Wedding Banquet, and Rebels of the Neon God, courtesy of Tony Rayns, then programming for BIFF.

Our first Indigenous programme with films from Australia, the USA, and Canada, including Michael Apted's Incident at Oglala and Errol Morris's The Dark Wind.

1994
Living legends of Australian avant-garde cinema, Corinne and Arthur Cantrill, presenting Projected Light, a two-screen work with live narration.

1995
The 800 Heroes, then newly re-discovered, made in China in 1938 about the Fall of Shanghai. Sound had been suspended. We screened it as intended, with the 25-piece Chinese Orchestra. Regrettably, the audience was not much larger, but many of those who were present still consider it a BIFF highlight.

A tribute to Oscar-winning animator, Faith Hubley, whose favourite BIFF memory was of the jellyfish she saw on a daytrip to Stradbroke Island.

1996
The new prints that we had struck of several of Kubrick's black and white films, but that was not enough. On the Friday before the screening, Stanley's assistant called Alan Finney, then at Roadshow, to check on our cinemas and projectors. All those rumours were true....

Tony Rayns's Japanese Independent Filmmakers' spotlight, including Sogo Ishii, Tsukamoto Shinya, and Hiroki Ryuichi. David Helfgott dispensing hugs at BIFF for the screening of Shine.

1997
Riding up the mall in a 200-strong Harley cavalcade to celebrate the Dennis Hopper retrospective; bustling Maggie Cheung down the fire escape to escape the fans; sending Kevin Spacey to the airport with a police motorcycle escort to ensure he made the flight; the standing ovation for Eddie Mabo.

1998
Rolf de Heer receiving the Chauvel Award, giving us the rare chance to see Incident at Raven's Gate; a screening of the 1935 two-colour Technicolor Legong, Dance of the Virgins, shot in Bali; endless phonecalls to Melvin van Peebles over Sweet Sweetback's Baadasssss Song, part of a blaxploitation retro.

1999
A great Surrealist retro inspired and assisted by Adrian Martin, featuring A Page of Madness through to Borowczyk and more than a nod to Buñuel. The one that defied us was Rose Hobart, placed two years later on the US National Film Registry and now available on YouTube; Larry Cohen presenting 10 of his films, including the It's Alive trilogy; B Ruby Rich introducing us to Daisies and Lethal Lesbians.

2000
A Lens on the Beat Generation. The obsessed audience that came out to see some of these films. Robert Frank's continued reference to me as ‘the Antipodean' in correspondence with the British distributor; and an era when films had titles such as We're talking Vulva and Can I be your Bratwurst?!

2001
My big Variety moment with Tippi Hedren here for a screening of The Birds and BIFF patron George Miller.

2002
Shoot shoot shoot curated by Mark Webber. Who'd have thought Brisbane could draw a growing audience for eight programmes of London Filmmakers Co-op films? The highlight for me and many others was the famous Line describing a Cone.

1001 Voices-a massive 24 features from the Middle East, before film had had time to inflect the events of September 11.

2003
The 13 film strong Ozu retrospective, especially the silent I was born, but accompanied by shakuhachi and cello in the 1200-seat city hall.

2004
Finally getting James Benning to BIFF to present his films; a season of classic Czech Gothic horror films; and Shimizu Hiroshi.

2005
A comprehensive retrospective of Malayalam cinema, in co-operation with the Tropenmuseum, Amsterdam; a tingle up the spine presenting Zainap (Coca) Gashaeva at her film, Coca: The Dove from Chechnya; the suspense as David Stratton took a call from Margaret Pomeranz in the middle of the Chauvel presentation to determine whether Greg Araki's Mysterious Skin, which had screened the previous night, would be banned.

2006
Eighty-something-year-old animator, Kawamoto Kihachiro, demonstrating his puppets on-stage before the screening of his superb films; Unveiling Islam, 18 films comparing Turkish and Iranian women as filmmakers and on screen.

2007
Tsitsi Dangarembga, from Zimbabwe, and her extraordinary cannibalistic musical, Mother's Day, based on an old Shona folk tale.

Spotlights on Malaysia and Estonia, Africa and China; Buddhism and Buñuel rubbing shoulders.

Presenting David Stratton with the Chauvel Award for his distinguished contribution to the industry in general and his wonderful support of BIFF. And, of course, the terrific private ‘David-and-Margaret' show that we all received.

2008
A meaty retrospective, Resistance and Terrorism in post WWII Europe

The lamp-lighting ceremony and full houses honouring Adoor Gopalakrishnan, who finally made it to BIFF.

2009
And last year... the disappointment of Amitabh Bachchan cancelling his BIFF appearance in protest at the violence towards Indian students. At least I did get to meet him at the famous Mehboob Studios.

But amply made up for by the very cute 1959 open-top Morris Minor, themed for An Education, which took me to opening night with Carey Mulligan and Leah Purcell.

The Great Deadbate with the Spierig Brothers and Andrew Leavold, moderated by BIFFster Coreen Haddad.

Ivan Sen at the world premiere of his film Dreamland, informing me and the audience that we were about to see a whole different film from what I had selected....

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Anne Demy-Geroe


Dr George Miller, Tippi Hedren and Anne Démy-Geroe







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