Among those South Coast institutions adapting to COVID restrictions is the Far South Film Festival, which will be held online or the first time on August 23 this year and will be followed by an awards presentation on the same day.
The Film Festival Awards will be hosted by award-winning actor Frankie J Holden and actress and President of the Pambula Business Chamber, Michelle Pettigrove.
“We’ve had entries from every state and territory except the Northern Territory, a total of three hours of short films, all under 30 mins,” says Far South Film secretary Kush Bourke, who also acted in one of the films, La Laguna.
“Once you buy a ticket and choose your films, you’ll have 24 hours to watch them, which makes this a really nice, flexible activity to do with family or friends on a Sunday,” Kush says. “We’re also having a few Q and A sessions where you can interact and ask questions if you want to.”
Awards presenter Frankie J Holden lives in the Bega Valley, NSW and is part owner of Tathra Beachside Caravan Park together with wife Michelle and is an active member of the local community.
Amongst his many achievements as an actor, musician and presenter, Frankie won a Logie in 2019 for his role in A Place To Call Home and was nominated for an AFI Award for Best Actor in 1990.
Presenter Michelle Pettigrove is a seasoned performer on TV, live theatre and cabaret, best known for her roles in A Country Practice and Blue Heelers and is a businesswoman and author.
The Far South Film Festival features 25 short films from filmmakers living in regional areas all over Australia. Their unique voices and diverse stories are told through the medium of drama, comedy, documentary, mockumentary and experimental film.
Among the finalists is La Laguna, an eight-minute-long horror film written and directed by Marna Smith, of Merimbula.
“We filmed over two days, with a few pick-ups on the third day,” says Kush, who was cast as a corpse and spent four hours in the water at beautiful Nelsons Lagoon on a chilly autumn day for the sake of her art. “I was probably a bit blue when I got out and it wasn’t just the make-up. I had to go and sit in my car with the heater running to warm up again!”
Kush also got to put her editing skills to the test with La Laguna.
“I used to work for for a news station and had some experiencing quick, dirty cuts on news stories but this was editing for full-blown storytelling. I learned a lot!”
Despite the “torture” of having to listen to her own voice over and over during edits, Kush enjoyed the process of making La Laguna.
Other topics and genres in the festival range from the environment to social commentary, relationship crises, space odysseys and crime. Many speak to their particular community, giving insight to the diverse experiences of Australian life.
“It’s fantastic we got so many entries, so filmmakers are promoting the festival in their own areas,” Kush says. “Since we can’t all be together and roll out the red carpet, we’ll have to make do with being together virtually on the night. But I think people are getting used to an online format by now, with so many film festivals being held virtually this year.”
Tickets for the online festival are now available for pre-sale. Patrons can select festival passes or single tickets for the films, collections, Q&As and Award Ceremony. There are options to pay what you can afford for collections and single films.
The Festival is generously sponsored by Bega Valley Shire Council, South East Arts, Nullarbor Consulting, JD Shaw, Screenworks, ArtsHub, StageFlight and Merimbula School of Music.