The North West Film Festival was held at The Roxy on Friday and Saturday, attracting terrific numbers of students and participants from across the New England.
Festival organisers and judges were unanimous in their agreement that the event had been an invaluable opportunity for young filmmakers to showcase their work, as well as to participate in a number of hands-on workshops that allowed them to experience a cross-section of mediums.
The standard of entries was deemed excellent by the four visiting judges: actor Jaclyn Albergoni, actor Annie Byron, writer/director Belinda Chayko and casting director Kirsty de Vallance.
Gum Flat Public School, who had submitted a number of entries and who attended in large numbers on the day, were rewarded with a number of first prizes in their categories, including the Purely Creative and Documentary Categories.
The Years 7 – 10 Categories saw winning entries from Boggabilla, Lightning Ridge Central School and Inverell and MacIntyre High Schools.
At the glittering Awards event held on Friday evening for the senior age groups, prizes were shared between Inverell and MacIntyre High Schools and the Armidale Film and Television School. Top honours were taken out by Armidale Film and Television School with Alex Evans winning Best Film of the Festival with his breathtaking film “Butterflies.”
Workshops and screenings were held during the day on Saturday and were well attended by a number of students. Members of the general public also joined in to hear the first-hand accounts from the judges of what life behind the scenes in the Australian film and television industry is all about.
Kirsty de Vallance is responsible for choosing contestants for reality television programs such as Masterchef, The Biggest Loser, Project Runaway and World’s Strictest Parents. Kirsty who is responsible for selecting 50 hopeful Masterchefs from an original pool of over 7000 applicants, described the process, as well as providing an insight of the way reality television has transformed the television market.
Actor Annie Byron, who grew up in Inverell, provided her accounts of the Australian film and theatre industries. Hearing Annie’s impressions of appearing with Cate Blanchett on stage in New York was inspiring, as well as her descriptions of the vast experience she has had in the industry over 30 years.
At the conclusion of the Festival Annie stated “It has been so special to return to the area of my childhood and growing up after 40 years of adventures…So mind blowing to see the work produced by young people of this place.”
The appreciation of the students was expressed by the spontaneous standing ovation they gave the judges at the end of the two day event. The judges in turn reciprocated the standing ovation, saying that the experience had been equally enriching for them.
Actor Jaclyn Albergoni, who appears in Channel 7’s Home and Away as Constable Georgina Watson, described the Festival as one of the highlights of her career.
In its seventh year, there is no doubt that the Festival delivered a unique and invaluable opportunity for young people across the region to experience the best films being made in the region, as well as to participate in an event that will inspire many to go on to make wonderful work in the future. The opportunity to spend two days with industry professionals allowed them a unique insight that even young people in the city may not necessarily have the benefit of experiencing.
The North West Film Festival truly is an extraordinary event that we should all be proud of.