Students shine at stellar regional festival

September 29, 2008

The North West Film Festival well and truly confirmed its place as one of the region’s most significant cultural events.

Film makers from across the North West were treated to two days of Bingara, Boggabilla, Goodoga, Inverell, Lightning Ridge, Moree Mingoola, Narrabri, Tamworth, Warialda and Wee Waa were among a number of talented entrants in the North West Film Festival held at The Roxy recently.

(left to right) Winner of Best Film of the Festival, Tamworth TAFE student, special guest Louise Smith, Roxy Manager Sandy McNaughton, special guest Nash Edgerton, MC Rick Hutton, Steve Webber, Festival Judge Ben Daley, Festival Judge Josh Tanner and Regional Director, DET Des Gorman.

In his speech given at the awards presentation, Festival Director, Martin Bower highlighted that the festival was an initiative of the Gwydir Learning Region, stressing that ‘the festival is all about our young people.  The greatest satisfaction that can be got out of the festival is knowing that young people can be proud of their achievements, be proud of their rural community and its future." Mr Bower is confident that the festival "will be a catalyst by which people living in rural areas can be encouraged to follow their dreams."

Throughout the day, students had the rare opportunity of watching films and participating in workshops led by John Wiggins, Steve Dobson and Kerrie McGrath.

Screen Course Teacher at Warialda and Inverell TVET, Steve Weber commented that he had received fantastic feedback from students who came to him "incredibly excited with the ideas they had gotten after watching the films.  With the festival being held in Bingara, making it so accessible to the local kids, they were really confronted by the films which really made them think.  I have no doubt that there will be some wonderful films made as a result next year."

Forty-two entries were received in total, a particularly inspiring number considering that this was the first time the festival had been held. Judges commented on the astoundingly high quality of the entries, and were pleased to note some shining lights amongst the entrants.

The response to the festival was extremely enthusiastic, with over 400 people attending the screenings and workshops held over the course of the day, as well as in the evening for the awards presentations.

Nash Edgerton and Louise Smith.



Festival judges included Silent Cells organizer Kerrie McGrath, Greg Alchin, head of Australian Teachers of Media, John Wiggins, head of film at North Sydney TAFE and Steve Dobson, whose credits include, among others, director of photography for special effects on Moulin Rouge.

Steve Dobson described the festival as "a breakthrough event for the region in the development of its film culture" and "a seminal moment in the development of the region’s young film makers."

As a professional film maker turned teacher, Steve Dobson understands the importance that recognition at a festival can provide for young film makers who are just starting out. "Outside recognition can provide a defining moment that has an enormous influence, which will prove to be pivotal to them over the years."

Recalling the impact of winning his first awards, Steve noted that "the moment a young person realizes "I can do this", they come to a realization that they are worthy of all life has to give them. It is this defining moment that helps them recognize their true potential."

Suzy Fuelling, Youth Worker for the Gwydir Shire commented how the festival was "inspiring for our young people to witness the incredible amount of talent not only in NSW but in our own backyard.  It certainly gives everyone something to think about when it comes to the ability shown by our young people and what they can achieve."

Roxy Manager, Sandy McNaughton was delighted to support such a significant festival. "The festival is fundamental in providing a platform for young people.  We cannot underestimate what it must feel like for a young film maker to see their film on the big screen for the very first time, watched by an audience who are generally interested in their work.  It is a huge boost to their confidence that has enormous benefits not only for themselves but also their peers.  The festival is an extremely positive event and if the success of this year is anything to go by, it is inspiring to think about its future potential and direction."

Armidale TAFE student Nicola Alter won first prize in the Narrative Category for her wonderful film "The Drive," collecting $2,500 of equipment hire.

Meredith Adams and Lez Morris of Armidale TAFE received second prize in the same category. Jason Dunbar and Keaton Stewart took out first and second prize in the Subject Specific category for their works "5/4 Slight Return" and "Rock and Enroll."

All of the entrants are to be congratulated for their extraordinary efforts, as well as the contribution of the sponsors, Sony, Apple, Digital Video Technology, Panavision, Filmink, ATOM NSW, NSW Department of Education, New England Institute of TAFE, NSW Teachers Federation and the Gwydir Shire, without whose support the festival could not have taken place.

The success of the festival has left all involved eagerly awaiting
the North West Film Festival for 2005.