SWIFF Reimagined For 2021 – Popular Festival Returns With Cinema Screenings And Online Courses

Kate Howat and Dave Horsley are planning an even better SWIFF for 2021. Photo: supplied.


PLANNING for the Coffs Coast’s Screenwave International Film Festival (SWIFF) for 2021 is well underway.

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COVID-19 restrictions have encouraged organisers to innovate and adapt to design a new, safer festival experience for their audiences.

SWIFF Festival Co-Director Dave Horsley confirmed that SWIFF in Coffs Harbour has a new autumn timeslot and will run 16 days of films and experiences from April 14 to 29, 2021.

“The new timing brings new opportunities,” according to Mr Horsley.

SWIFF came into being in 2014 after Mr. Horsley and his Co-Director and wife, Kate Howat, stopped off in Coffs
Harbour on their way to Melbourne.

“We were originally going to try SWIFF in Melbourne but thought that Melbourne didn’t need another film festival, but Coffs did,” said Mr Horsley.

The pair persevered to develop partnerships, successfully apply for grants and grow their audiences.

They are now at a stage where SWIFF is an established part of the arts scene in Coffs Harbour and creates full-time employment for them and two staff.

As well as the film festival, Mr Horsley and Ms Howat run Nextwave, which, in 2019, saw them delivering workshops to young people in 70 schools, Australia-wide, and distributing $40,000 in prizes and development opportunities.

Because of Covid-19 restrictions, they reimagined Nextwave as regional Australia’s first online youth film education program, teaching young people to make short films.

They have expanded nationally and 500 students across every state and territory are accessing three hours of content in the Nextwave training modules.

There is still a Nextwave best film competition this year with record numbers of entries and families are expected to come from all over to see the finalists on the big screen.

Earlier this year, SWIFF set its fifth consecutive attendance record, with 10,000 film lovers enjoying the festival’s offerings, making it the most highly-attended film festival in regional NSW.

SWIFF 2021 will host over 100 feature film screenings, spanning the spectrum between entertaining and challenging films.

Mr Horsley and Ms Howat are working with lead festival sponsor Ashton Designs to build on its success.

The full festival line-up will be announced closer to the festival, along with new venues, new festival patrons, new events, and new ways to experience the festival next year.

For audiences and businesses wanting to connect with the festival, visit www.swiff.com.au.


By Andrew VIVIAN

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