It’s safe to say there was a brilliant UPROAR at the Opening Night Gala of the 2023 Brisbane International Film Festival. Boasting over 40 feature films from Australian and around the world, plus a selection of shorts films and immersive industry days, BIFF has seemingly gone from strength to strength in the lead up to this year’s festival, with a fantastic selection of films to back that up.
Taking place at the lively cinematic hub at Reading Cinemas Newmarket, one of BIFF’s returning venue partners, the green carpet was rolled out to begin the festivities before leading into the opening night film, the uplifting, hilarious, and truly touching New Zealand film, Uproar, starring Julian Dennison, Rhys Darby and Minnie Driver.
In attendance on the green carpet was one of Uproar’s co-directors, Paul Middleditch, who was ecstatic to showcase his film to the eager Brisbane audience after an incredibly successful debut at Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year.
“I think this film will work brilliantly for Australian audiences,” Paul says, “because I think there are so many connections between New Zealand and Australia.”
“I’ve lived half of my life in Australia, and half in New Zealand. I’m like an ANZAC biscuit! But as filmmakers we wanted to make a film with a universal quality to it.”
The film is also an incredibly personal piece of art for Paul, basing a lot of the story on his own upbringing as a kid who loved the arts.
“When I was a young kid, I had an art teacher at school who know I had an interest in painting and so on. Then there was a competition in New Zealand where I made little films on a Super 8 camera! Then I eventually won that competition 4 years in a row!”
But the major thing Paul wanted to get right was the representation of Māori culture, and that’s where his collaboration with co-writer/director Hamish Bennett and star Julian Dennison came in.
“Julian [Dennison] came to me and said he wanted to play the lead role! He’s a Māori boy, so we’ve gotta do this right and make it right in terms of understanding his voice as a Māori boy. So, Sonia, who had worked on the first three drafts for three years, did another draft with Hamish Bennett, knowing Julian was going to be in it and we worked on the really important cultural issues, especially with the racism involved.”
Also attending BIFF this year is acclaimed director Phillip Noyce, who is premiering a new 4K restoration of his iconic film, Rabbit Proof Fence.
“I got to thank the New South Wales, Queensland, Norther Territory, South Australian, Western Australian and Tasmanian education departments and all the teachers who have used this film as the basis of history lessons in indigenous studies. We’re know future proofing the movie by bringing it up to a standard of presentation that’s demanded by all streamers and cinemas around the world these days!”
And Phillip had very strong feelings about why Brisbane International Film Festival was the place he wanted the film to play!
“It’s a film festival that’s on at the right time of the year! Sydney and Melbourne play there’s in the middle of the year, which is a hopeless time! The really important, artistic films are released from September through to Christmas, and that’s when this film festival is on! It’s a festival that makes sense for us filmmakers!”
“I was 18 years old, and I wandered into a screening of underground films in 1968. I was absolutely amazed looking at the screening because I’d never seen an Australian movie growing up in the 50s. Afterwards, I hung around, and there were these 3 guy who all called themselves ‘film directors’. So I went home, and within 3 months, I made a movie, and I’m a director. So, that was a screening of films that changed my life completely.”
Film Fantastic CEO, Luke Wheatley, who has only as recently as July been appointed as the lead on bringing BIFF together shared similar thoughts to Phillip.
“It’s all about momentum. It’s about raising Brisbane’s profile. It’s Toronto [International Film Festival], then it’s Brisbane straight after it. Why aren’t we the next big one for people to look forward to? So, it’s about having really big films, an incredible lineup, that people want to come and see!”
“The pressure is on me! I had the pressure to deliver on my own expectations, because I’m, at heart, a film fan. I’ve been to Toronto. I went to Cannes. I’ve been to Berlinale. I love films. So, I think my unique vision of BIFF is a filmmakers visions.”
BIFF is now on with 10 days of films and events you don’t want to miss out on! Head to biff.com.au to secure tickets to your festival picks now!
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