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It’s bigger and broader - and for its 10th Birthday a bit richer - reports David Edwards on the 2001 festival in the Sunshine State.

After weathering 10 years as Australia’s third major film festival, the Brisbane International Film Festival celebrates its coming of age with a new name and one of the most diverse programs in its history.

In a time when competition for the sponsorship dollar is fierce, BIFF has secured a new deal with mobile phone company Cellular One and will be known as the Cellular One Brisbane International Film Festival. But the name change hasn’t altered the festival’s prime focus – to bring the best in world cinema to local audiences.

“a virtual smorgasbord of cinema”

As is now traditional, the festival will kick off on July 26 with a new Australian film – this year the honour goes to Steve Jacobs’ La Spagnola. The film, which closed the recent Sydney Film Festival, was written and produced by AFI Award winning actress Anna-Maria Monticelli. It stars Spanish actress Lola Monceli as the title character, Alice Ansara as her daughter and Australian heartthrob Alex Dimitriades has a pivotal supporting role.

From there, it’s a virtual smorgasbord of cinema for the next ten days. Although the festival is no longer than usual, extra venues have been added to cope with the almost mind-boggling range of titles.

“BIFF prides itself on its Asia-Pacific selection”

Other new Australian features showing include Robert Connolly’s The Bank, which is the opener at this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival just a week before BIFF; Rolf de Heer’s The Old Man Who Read Love Stories; Rachel Perkins’ follow up to her multi-award-winning Radiance, One Night The Moon; and Alkinos Tsilimidos’ hilarious and touching look at friendship and greyhounds, Silent Partner.

BIFF prides itself on its Asia-Pacific selection and this year’s line up looks particularly strong in that area. Acclaimed films like Takeshi Kitano’s Brother (Japan), What Time is it There? (Taiwan) and Lan Yu (China) by Stanley Kwan are on the program. To mark the festival’s 10th year, there will also be a retrospective of some of the best Asian films screened over the years, including Clara Law’s Temptation of a Monk and Sogo Ishii’s Labyrinth of Dreams.

“I’m very proud of the line-up we have for the 10th BIFF”

For the first time, BIFF is spreading its wings to introduce a competitive element in the Asia-Pacific section, says Artistic Director Anne Demy-Geroe.

“I’m very proud of the line-up we have for the 10th BIFF; especially the Asia-Pacific component, which includes a retrospective of the best Asian cinema screened at BIFF in our early years. I’m particularly pleased that Asian films are so well represented because this year we’ve joined some of the major festivals around the world by convening a panel of judges on behalf of the Network for Promotion of Asian Cinema [NETPAC] to judge the best Asian film in the Festival.”

“the list should give audiences an insight into why Polanski is rightly regarded as one of the greats”

The festival’s major retrospective this year will showcase a body of work from that most distinctive and innovative of directors, Roman Polanski. Spanning thirty years from 1958 to 1988, the retro includes Knife in the Water, Repulsion, Chinatown and Frantic. Covering the most productive period of Polanski’s career, the list should give audiences an insight into why Polanski is rightly regarded as one of the greats – his well-publicised problems with US authorities notwithstanding.

On a slightly smaller scale, BIFF will feature the films of Budd Boetticher, who is credited with being instrumental in the creation of the adult western of the 1950s. Screening are classic westerns like The Tall T (1957) and Commanche Station (1960). Anne Demy-Geroe is particularly pleased that the festival has also been able to secure Boetticher’s recently rediscovered film, Seven Men From Now.

“films about music and a slew of documentaries, shorts and experimental films”

Another BIFF tradition is the Films on Filmmaking series. In that segment, audiences can partake of documentaries on the likes of Kubrick (Stanley Kubrick: A Life in Pictures) and Fellini (Federico Fellini’s Autobiography: Clips from his Life). Also to show is The American Nightmare, a look at the American horror film – and segues nicely into the fest’s late night section featuring classic horror from the likes of Wes Craven, John Carpenter and David Croenenberg.

In the ever-popular World Cinema section, festival favourites like Faithless (Sweden) by Liv Ullman, Michael Hanecke’s Code Unknown (France), Sydney Film Festival prize winner Divided We Fall (Czech Republic) and Julian Schnabel’s When Night Falls (USA) featuring Javier Bardem’s Oscar-nominated performance will be screened. New British cinema will have its own special place thanks to A New Britannia, presented in association with The British Council. The films here include Kirsten Shridan’s Disco Pigs, and Paul Pawlikowski’s The Last Resort. A New Britannia will also provide the much acclaimed (and already popular on the US arthouse circuit) closing night film, Jonathan Glazer’s Sexy Beast, starring Ben Kingsley.

If that’s still not enough, there are silent films by Maurice Elvey, films about music and a slew of documentaries, shorts and experimental films.

Published July 12, 2001

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For more information, call the BIFF office on (07) 3220 0444 or check their Web site at www.biff.com.au

La Spagnola - opening night film

Before Night Falls

Way Down Town


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