10 Things to do at SWIFF

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SWIFF 2019 dishes up two full weeks of screen experiences for its fourth festival, screening over 60 different feature films from 20 countries, plus a big line-up of film industry guests, events, galas, film premieres, parties, and screen culture experiences. 

SWIFF’s 48-page printed program is in cafés, bars, pubs, and theatres throughout Northern NSW. It has the rundown on all the films and events available for film lovers. They get snapped up pretty fast, so if you can’t find one, download the SWIFF 2019 mobile app on your iPhone or Android. 

It’s a big program full of hidden gems, so we’ve broken it down to 10 things to see and do at SWIFF 2019.

1. See Soda_Jerk – in town from New York

This year’s Opening Night Gala brings the controversial video mash-up artists Soda_Jerk from New York to Coffs, screening Terror Nullius – a film unwriting what it is to be a modern day Australian, cut together from clips of famous Aussie movies. It’s a film so controversial, their grant funders pulled support just days before the world premiere, calling it “Un-Australian”. See it – and make up your own mind. 

2. SWIFF Live: O Brother, Where Art Thou? 

Bellingen Bluegrass band The Mid North will play a live soundtrack to accompany the Coen Brothers’ classic O Brother, Where Art Thou?, giving it a musical re-imagining live on stage, along with the film. Two shows available (Jan 17 and 20) – sells out fast. 

3. Check out the Closing Night Gala

The Closing Night Gala sees Willem Dafoe give a tour de force performance as a late-life Vincent Van Gogh in director Julian Schnabel’s (The Diving Bell & The Butterfly) new film At Eternity’s Gate. Keep an eye out at the Oscars for this one.  

4. Attend a Premiere

There’s something special about being one of the first people to see a film on the big screen after it’s fresh out of post-production. This year SWIFF hosts the World Premiere of late-life transgender documentary, Becoming Colleen (with a Coffs Harbour twist!) There are four Australian premieres also on the cards: gripping personal human trafficking doco Sisters For Sale; a story about the women fighting their own war inside the Nicaraguan revolution in Las Sandanistas!; big screen surf epic Emocean; and the new documentary about the rogue New York judge changing the lives of sex workers in Blowin’ Up. See them first at SWIFF!

5. Grab your pass and plan your SWIFF

Like to be a little impulsive with your movie-watching? Don’t want to have to pick them all at once? The good thing about SWIFF’s festival passes is that you can buy a pack of tickets (six, 12, or 24), save some money, and pick your films when you like. All the sessions are subject to availability – so if there are ones you really want to see, better get in fast before they’re gone. 

6. See an award winning film

SWIFF Artistic Director Kate Howat has lined up the best award-winning films for Coffs Coast audiences. Hideo Kore-eda’s gang-of-thieves family dramas Shoplifters (screens Jan 18 and 24) took out Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious Palme d’Or award this year. Some under-the-radar films took out other big gongs, including Lynne Ramsay’s gritty crime thriller, You Were Never Really Here (screens Jan 11 and 19) winning Best Screenplay and Best Actor (Joaquin Phoenix) at Cannes, and Tolga Karacelik’s Turkish family roadtrip comedy Butterflies winning Sundance’s Grand Jury Prize. For other award winners, check out the program. 

7. Bumper Crop of Aussie Films

It’s been a great year for Aussie films, and SWIFF has put them all in one place for you. The Australian Cinema program has doubled in size this year, with fourteen different new Aussie features and docos screening. Included is audience magnet Backtrack Boys (it won SFF, MIFF, and BBFF audience awards), Coffs late-life gender transition doco Becoming Colleen, mental health supernatural doco Ghosthunter, Tassie fiction-doco hybrid Under The Cover Of Cloud, controversial art film Terror Nullius, and Heath Davis’s new high school comedy, Book Week. 

8. Nextwave Youth Film Awards

Previously called the REC Ya Shorts Youth Film Festival, Nextwave has been busy running filmmaking workshops across Regional NSW. The best 20 regional NSW youth short films will be screened at the inaugural Nextwave Youth Film Awards on Jan 18th at C.ex Coffs. Over $40,000 in prizes will be awarded on the night. Comedies, animations, dramas, docos, and other bite-sized six-minute shorts will have their premiere on the night – including many local films!

9. $8 Tickets for Young People

With such a focus on youth filmmaking at SWIFF, the organisers have subsidised tickets for all festivalgoers under 25 down to only $8 for all regular session tickets! 

10. Head to the Festival Hubs

Want to mingle with the festival’s filmmaker guests? Head into Element Bar in Coffs and No. 5 Church Street in Bellingen, the SWIFF Festival Hubs. Sometimes you leave the cinema with more questions than answers, so pop in for a bite and a bubbly debrief after a film. 

SWIFF 2019 is the fourth Screenwave International Film Festival. It runs from January 10th to the 25th in Coffs Harbour and Bellingen. For programming and tickets, download the SWIFF 2019 mobile app to your phone or visit www.swiff.com.au

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