Highlights Galore For SWIFF21

SWIFF21 premieres the holocaust drama “The Painted Bird”. Photo: supplied by SWIFF.


WITH 120 film screenings, events, performances, parties, and industry sessions, the 2021 Screenwave International Film Festival (SWIFF21) abounds with highlights that will captivate everyone.

SWIFF21, presented by tailor-made furniture company, Ashton Designs, will run from this Wednesday, April 14 until April 29.

A major highlight is the presence of Australian film icon, Jack Thompson, who will chair a Festival Patron team which also features Sydney Film Prize-winning documentary maker Sascha Ettinger-Epstein (“Destination Arnold”, “The Pink House”), and Aaron Glenane, who has been acclaimed for performances in “Killing Ground”, “Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan”, and Netflix’s “Snowpiercer”.

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SWIFF21 will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Mr Thompson’s first film, “Wake in Fright”, directed by Ted Kotcheff with the soundtrack performed live with the ‘desert blues’ of the Rhyece O’Neill Band.

For the festival’s sixth outing, in addition to the Jetty Memorial Theatre, SWIFF21 will also utilise the Coffs Harbour Education Campus (CHEC).

CHEC will be home to a huge events space that features a beer garden, a café, nine full days of programming at the 350-capacity CHEC Theatre and the Closing Night Gala and afterparty.

The festival hosts seven Australian Premieres, six NSW Premieres, and 23 World Premieres of short films.

Australian Premieres include Viggo Mortensen’s family drama “Falling”, the UNICEF Award-winning Polish holocaust epic “The Painted Bird”, UK youth drug-smuggling social drama “County Lines”, hard-hitting Filipino anti-Duterte doco “A Thousand Cuts”, the eye-opening French gender identity documentary “Little Girl”, “Wildfire” which tells the story of sisters reconciling in post-conflict Ireland, and “The Macaluso Sisters”, a stunningly-told story over multiple decades as it follows a family of Italian sisters through good and hard times.

NSW Premieres include “Yalda, A Night of Forgiveness”, an Iranian capital punishment drama on a reality TV set, “The Surrogate” an ethical drama exploring social issues, “Maddy The Model”, which shatters supermodel stereotypes and the “pressure cooker” thriller “The Killing of Two Lovers”.

Award winning or nominated films include “Nomadland”, starring two-time Oscar-winner Frances McDormand, and “Minari”, a beautiful film about a young Korean family chasing the American Dream in Arkansas, along with “Judas & The Black Messiah”, “Another Round” and “The Mole Agent” which have been nominated for Oscars, including Best Actor and Best Director.

For those who like a chuckle, there is indie comedy “Kajillionaire”, a coming-of-age black comedy “Dinner In America”, charming taboo-busting heart warmer “Saint Frances”, the utterly romantic yet absurd “Golden Voices” and “Some Kind of Heaven“, an offbeat documentary about a Floridian retirement town where sex, drugs, and rock’n’roll persevere.

Non-fiction films at SWIFF mirror the volatile year that 2020 was.

“Welcome to Chechnya” uses deep fake technology to hide the identities of persecuted gay and lesbian people in Chechnya, in “Cockroach”, Chinese dissident artist Ai Weiwei lobs a Molotov cocktail at the establishment with street-level view of the Hong Kong riots, and the Romanian doco “Collective” has been dubbed one of the greatest movies about journalism ever made.

On the lighter side of non-fiction, a selection of heart-warming true stories includes Joaquin Phoenix’s experimental silent film following the life of a pig named “Gunda”, and the award-sweeping Norwegian “The Painter and the Thief” about an artist creating a portrait of a charismatic drug addict who stole her artworks from a gallery.

For dog lovers SWIFF21 offers the poignant “Stray” and the environmentally-conscious, “The Truffle Hunters”.

Connecting cinema and music is a vital part of the SWIFF ‘recipe’, and the festival welcomes Latin guitar legends Slava and Leonard Grigoryan as they perform the live soundtrack to a screening of heart-warming, family-friendly, “A Boy Called Sailboat”.

The Nextwave Youth Film Awards, SWIFF’s most highly attended event, is a family-friendly gala event celebrating young regional filmmakers aged 10-25, with a red carpet arrival and live music,

The premiere screening of the top 22 films created for the annual Nextwave competition is followed by the awarding of tens of thousands of dollars in prizes for the next generation of regional filmmakers.

SWIFF Closing Night Galas always end with a ‘bang’, and this year’s, at the CHEC Theatre, features a screening of the blistering “Mogul Mowgli”, starring an exceptional Riz Ahmed as a UK MC spitting truth to power and is followed by an ‘ethnocyberfunk’ live, world music performance by Coco Varma, Bobby Singh, & Ben Walsh.

Tickets and information can be found at www.swiff.com.au.


By Andrew VIVIAN


Audience numbers break records each year at SWIFF. Photo: supplied by SWIFF.

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