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Darwin International Film Festival

Words by Anna Dowd

Image (detail) by Del Kathryn Barton from the short film The Nightingale and the Rose, to be screened at DIFF as part of the Animatic: International Animation Collection.

The 7th Darwin International Film Festival (DIFF) is a 360 degree celebration of film, local screen culture and the art form of the moving image. From the movie buff to the aspiring filmmaker, DIFF has every angle covered with a program including big screen movies, a virtual reality cinema, live projection art, workshops, industry forums and the inaugural Capricornia Film Awards.

For 11 days of film fervour, the Deck-chair Cinema will transform into a festival club where, according to DIFF Director Tim Parish, each of the films programmed can be seen as their own creative occasion. 

“I’m a fan of film screenings being put together as unique cinematic events,” said Parish.

From live music accompanying  Silencio, a feature exploring 100 years of animation, to an opening night guest appearance by Alice Springs director Warwick Thornton (Words with Gods), the program adds far more than your usual choc top for moviegoers.   

Gone are the days when the word ‘film’ meant making and projecting movies using celluloid. Quentin Tarantino was the last director to do this and by then it was well and truly retro. Parish said this year’s DIFF program embraced the full breadth of contemporary screen culture. An example is Sundance winner Tange-rine, a documentary about transgender women in LA and the first ever feature filmed entirely on iPhones. 

“There’re so many new ways we’re making films – from drones to GoPros to smartphones. These new technologies have really liberated us and made things more accessible to everyone,” Parish stated. 

There’s a range of satellite events expanding the festival beyond your traditional big screen experience. Flagged as the next big development in screen, audiences can check out cutting edge virtual reality technology at ‘The Matrix’ pop up virtual reality cinema in Knuckey Street. Ex-perience the revolution coming your way using virtual reality goggles with 360 degree video documentaries and films uploaded to them. Or there’s the massive outdoor projection experience at the Waterfront which will visualise the movement of crowds, people and ideas from across the world. 

Supporting the local film scene is also a major focus with an industry forum, Charles Darwin University Visualizing Top End Research conference and workshops all open to the public. Workshops running over the weekend are a kind of film school intensive designed to foster the skills of local emerging filmmakers and include screenwriting, virtual reality, multi-platform storytelling and cinematography.

All of this culminates in the inaugural Capricornia Film Awards night at the Deckchair and its democratic off-shoot DUFF, the Darwin Underground Film Festival, at Café de la Plage. Hosted by celebrated Indigenous actor Tom E Lewis, Capricornia winners across 11 categories will showcase what’s happening in the NT’s vibrant screen culture and DUFF will continue the celebration screening all finalists in all categories. 

Parish is excited about the growth of our screen industry. “There’s just so much stuff being made when you really see the industry in its broad scope. The awards ceremony and festival are helping to foster and celebrate that.”

DIFF | Thu 15 – Sun 25 Sep | Various locations | diff.net.au

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