ScreenWave International Film Festival is back for 2022! Scenic Coffs Harbour plays host to one of the best regional film festivals (actually, that “regional” qualifier seems redundant) from Thursday, 21st April to Friday 6th May, during which the seaside town is going to be inundated with all manner of incredible cinema and the people who love it -including me, as long as I can get all my ducks in a row. I’m keen to go diving with the grey nurse sharks who hang out up that way, so it’s a twofer.
Obviously the opening night movie, The Northman by David Eggers (The Witch, The Lighthouse) is a must see – a brutal historical adventure with strong Conan the Barbarian notes and a ridiculously stacked cast (Alexander Skarsgård, Nicole Kidman, Claes Bang, Anya Taylor-Joy, Ethan Hawke, Björk, Willem Dafoe, et al). I’m absolutely in the bag for this: I love a bit of historical blood and thunder, and Eggers is one of the most interesting American filmmakers to come along in ages. Plus this is his third feature, and I have a completely untested theory that the third at bat is when a filmmaker’s voice really manifests, so I’m keen to see if that holds true here. Check out the trailer below and book your tickets here.
Everything Everywhere All At Once
The closing night film is Everything Everywhere All At Once by filmmaking team Daniels, who gave us the Daniel-Radcliffe-is-a-corpse movie Swiss Army Man a while back. Full disclosure: I’m not the hugest fan of Swiss Army Man; I caught it long after the hubbub had died down and found it a little too twee and precious for my tastes. But Everything Everywhere All at Once is a balletic and kinetic sci-fi adventure that sees the great Michelle Yeoh as a harried Chinese-American woman who really just wants to get her taxes squared away but finds herself dragged into an interdimensional adventure that sees her encountering various versions of herself. I’m getting Jet Li in The One vibes, and I’ll always show up for Yeoh. Trailer (amazing-looking trailer, I should say) below, tickets here.
In between these two is a veritable cornucopia of movies, live events, and more – well worth a trip up the coast (or down, depending on where you are – this is being typed in Sydney). My attitude to festivals has historically been to get a gold pass or whatever the top tier best-bang-for-your-buck ticketing option is (like this here 20 film pass) and just watch as many things as I can, really drown my brain in the festival experience. But I’m a freak with too much time on his hands. So, if your options are a little more constrained, let’s imagine some deranged publicist has pressed the cold muzzle of a Luger (the preferred weapon of deranged publicists everywhere) to my temple and asked my to pick out five bangers worthy of your attention.
The Verhoeven Experience
I am L.I.V.I.N.G. for the current critical reappraisal of Dutch lunatic Paul Verhoeven’s body of work and it is fucking hilarious to me that for a minute there Hollywood gave him the keys to the kingdom and let him run roughshod over American social mores to his heart’s content, to no small amount of financial success and a lot of handwringing. The more enlightened among us know that Verhoeven was right about everything all along, and if you buy me a drink at the festival I’ll tell you why in excruciating detail.
And I’ll be in a good position to do so, as SWIFF have programmed a stream of Verhoeven classics this year, including Basic Instinct, Showgirls, Benedetta (his new film – the Heretic from The Hague is still making movies!), Robocop, Starship Troopers, Spetters, and Flesh + Blood.
You should, of course, see them all, but if you can only catch one I’d go for Flesh + Blood, Verhoeven’s English language debut, a lusty Renaissance epic that pits Tom Burlinson’s young noble and Jack Thompson’s mercenary captain against Rutger Hauer’s mob of religiously-fixated mercenaries-turned-bandits, with Jennifer Jason Leigh’s noble lady caught in the middle. It’s a wild time, and if I can get festival patron Jack Thompson to answer a few questions about the production, by god I’ll make it happen. Details here.
SWIFF Live presents Beautiful Dark: the Music of Twin Peaks
Like anyone of taste, I love David Lynch in general and Twin Peaks in particular – that series came along at precisely the right time to warp my young brain good and proper, and created not so much a cottage industry as an entire Lynchian subculture, encompassing criticism, academia, fandom, and, in this particular case, music. Seven piece ensemble The Beautiful Dark will be reinterpreting Angelo Badalamenti’s iconic score, in character, in costume, with props, projections, clips, samples, and more. The owls are not what they seem, but this seems like a good night out to me. Tickets here, folks.
A one day music festival right in the middle of a film festival? Hell yes, why not? Storyland sees Courtney Barnett, Hiatus Kaiyote, Rolling Blackouts, Coastal Fever, Ngaiire, Emma Donovan, Hachiku, and Horns of Leroy on stage, while a whole honking array of large scale art installations, cinematic narrative performance, bars, food trucks, and whatnot unfold around them, plus tunes from The Yurt Locker DJs. That’s happening at Park Beach Reserve on Saturday April 23, 2022, right on the water, and is a guaranteed good time. Tickets and deets are here.
I think we all know by now that I’m a horror hound, and so SWIFF’s Wild Sides stream of genre films is right in my wheelhouse. Zeroing in on just one, I’d be inclined to put my hard earned cash down on The Innocents. No, not the excellent 1961 adaptation of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, but this new Norwegian chiller, which I’m told is “Chronicle meets Carrie”. Let’s go to the plot synopsis…
Nine-year-old Ida moves to an Oslo apartment complex with her nonverbal autistic sister, Anna, and their parents, whose time is preoccupied with her sister’s needs. Lonely and resentful, Ida spends the summer days exploring. Upon meeting the similarly adrift Ben and Aisha, who reveal to possess mysterious powers, the four children are drawn together– but soon playtime takes a dark and dangerous turn.
A beautifully creepy fable featuring exceptional child performers, all under the age of 12, The Innocents is a memorable and strikingly fresh supernatural thriller.
I’m getting a Village of the Damned vibe from this one, and I’m always up for a creepy kid film. Tickets are here, Doc.
And finally, a sci-fi romance from acclaimed director Ivan Sen (Beneath Clouds, Mystery Road) that sees Ryan Kwanten’s emotionally dead assassin fall for Jillian Nguyen’s soiled dove torch singer, only for his past to catch up with him in the form of a sudden and debilitating disease that starts breaking down his body. Reclusive life extension scientist Hugo Weaving may have the answer, but learning the truth may be more painful than our hero could ever imagine. It all takes place in neon-drenched near-future Hong Kong, with Sen offering us a high-tech, lo-fi meditation on life, love, loss, and mortality. Get your tickets here, street samurai.