Cockatoo Island Film Festival

The New Thing In Town

Sydney got itself a new film festival starting this year and it took place on Cockatoo Island. Out of an odd happenstance I ended up attending parts of it. I even made it to the Award Night where they handed pout their own inaugural gongs.

What’s Good About It

They’ve done a nice job selling it as a film maker’s festival, and it does take place on a beautiful part of Sydney. If you could conceive of a film festival in Sydney that was utterly unlike the Sydney Film Festival, this would have been the place to put it, and really, it has great promise for the future.

There’s a lot of enthusiasm to it, and one suspects that it is going to be even more unlike the Sydney Film Festival which has established itself firmly with a particular kind of film-viewing public. The potential is there for it to grow into something really different and good. If nothing else it is unique and breaks the mold of what film festivals should be like

What’s Bad About It

This year being the first time in Sydney – it’s grown up and out of the Dungog Film Festival – it felt like it was more form over function. The organisation seemed in most part chaotic and planning underdone. It compared very unfavourably if you were a regular punter to the SFF and suddenly were confronted with the sense of out-of-control-ness the festival betrayed.

Volunteers were talking into their intercoms on their collars a lot, but the flow of information was anarchic. It looked great, but it didn’t work as well as it looked.

Getting to and from the island can be a little haphazard, which is a minor complaint, but it’s a real one all the same. Once you’re on the island, you feel captive to the services and amenities available and they’re not exactly good or cheap.

What’s Interesting About It

There’s a lot of space for the festival to grow, and I guess that’s where the promise is. A few years back there was talk of slotting in a comedy festival in October on Cockatoo Island, which almost happened and never did. It might be an idea to run that concurrently on the Island as well as have a band competition.

The feeling I had while I staggered around the island was that there nearly wasn’t enough to see or do at the festival, once you staggered out of movies. The flipside of it is the feeling that it could in future turn into a really varied, multifaceted event that attracts great talent from all over the world.

It sure beats stumbling in and out of the State Theatre with a bustling throng in the rain.

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Filed under Cinema, Film, General, Movies

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