Urban Cinefile
"The cult of Ernesto Che Guevara is an episode in the moral callousness of our time. Che was a totalitarian. He achieved nothing but disaster. "  - Paul Berman in slant.com on The Motorcycle Diaries
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Wednesday March 25, 2020 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



The pioneering festival of Australian films in the charming Hunter Valley town of Dungog at 6 years old is going back to its roots and moving its dates. In its wake, the town’s James Theatre is getting a new lease of (digital) life. Andrew L. Urban reports.

Exactly two weeks before the 2012 Dungog Film Festival opens, Dungog’s James Theatre (the Festival’s core venue) is screening the first feature on its new digital projector. The film is Owen Elliott’s Bathing Franky, which was shot in Dungog. But the real significance of the screening is the fact that it was largely thanks to the enormous success of the Dungog Film Festival over the past five years that the theatre is operating at all, now under the direct management of Dungog Shire Council, which has invested in the digital gear.

"the Festival has gone ‘unplugged’"

In its sixth year, the Festival has gone ‘unplugged’ as they put it, meaning it has stopped trying to expand and grow and fill its four day program with bells and whistles. In fact, it has shrunk the program to three days, starting on Friday, with the gala opening affair on Friday night – not the Thursday as in the past.

“It was getting too big,” says Festival Director Allanah Zitserman, “and Dungog itself was struggling to cope. We’re taking it back to its roots and incorporating the community.”

The other major change is the timing: instead of late May, the Festival runs late June, after the Sydney Film Festival, not before it. “We’ve been meaning to change the date for a while,” says Festival Chief Executive Stavros Kazantzidis. “It was originally set at the end of May to accommodate Dungog Council’s plans, but we don’t want to clash or compete with the Sydney Film Festival – which at one stage was going to move its dates, but hasn’t, so we moved ours.”

"In the Raw"

One of the features of the Festival that is staying in the program is In the Raw, a reading of an unproduced screenplay with professional actors. Diving For Poland will be read on Saturday, June 30 by McKenzie, Ivy Latimer, Ben O’Toole, Sophie Hensser with Anna Hruby as narrator. Andrea Rogers’ In The Raw reading of her script will be directed by up and coming director Hannah Hilliard 

McKenzie will also be seen on screen at the Festival, in the ‘classic’ slot screening of Angel Baby (1995), directed by Michael Rymer.

The Fest will officially open with the romantic comedy Not Suitable for Children, with director Peter Templeman attending to celebrate the opening night. The film will be followed by the now legendary opening night party. Four other Australian films will be screened, including, Careless Love, written and directed by John Duigan (Sirens, The Year My Voice Broke) which follows a Vietnamese Australian university student who secretly begins working as an escort. 

The Saturday Fright Night thriller is the Australian premiere of Crawl, set in a rural town, where a seedy bar owner hires a mysterious Croatian to murder an acquaintance over an unpaid debt. The plan backfires and an innocent young woman becomes involved, held hostage in her own home. Directors Paul and Benjamin China and star of the film Georgina Haig will be attending the festival. The second classic feature will be Yoram Gross’ Dot and The Kangaroo.

"A strong documentary section"

A strong documentary section includes the World Premiere of Grammar of Happiness, directed by Michael O’Neil and produced by festival guest Jay Court, which sees linguistics professor Daniel Everett do a complete 360 on his lifelong beliefs when he visits Brazil's Pirahã tribe, a tribe whose language can be spoken, whistled or drummed and contains no words for colours and numbers, fiction, art, or any reflective past tense. 

Also premiering is Jack Rath’s Between Home, a film about novice sailor Nick Jaffe who, inspired by his mysterious father’s history in Berlin, decided to undertake a 2.5 year journey to sail solo across the Atlantic, he and Jack Rath will also be guests at the Festival.

Despite the Gods by Penny Vozniak follows award-winning filmmaker Jennifer Lynch (Boxing Helena), cult film figure David Lynch’s daughter, over eight months as she embarks on a journey to make her most ambitious film yet on location in India. Vozniak will be in attendance.

The much-celebrated annual street parade on Saturday June 30 will be themed this year to pay respect to last years blockbuster Australian film, Red Dog.

expand our vision for regional events"

The Festival is now presented under the auspices of the Cockatoo Institute, set up by Zitserman and Kazantzidis to develop a regional festival portfolio, with Cockatoo Island being the next event, presented in association with Destination NSW.

“We want to expand our vision for regional events, including festivals of Australian films, and to be able to do thing all year round,” says Zitserman.

Published June 14, 2012

Email this article

Dungog Film Festival 2012
June 29 – July 1

Not Suitable For Children

James Theatre, Dungog

Bathing Franky

Careless Love

Dot and the Kangaroo

Angel Baby

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2020