This year’s London Australian Film Festival offered four days of screenings at the Regent Street Cinema in late June, as well as a special pair of Pride screenings the following weekend at Picturehouse Central.
The Audience Award winner was Storm Boy, aptly proving that this remake of a family classic is no mere imitation of the original. Second was the Indigenous rom-com Top End Wedding, emphasising the sheer popularity of these true crowd-pleasers, which are also the highest grossing local features at the Australian box office this year. Top End Wedding played to a full house on a blisteringly hot Saturday afternoon, coming direct from its UK premiere at the Edinburgh Film Festival. Executive Producer Glen Condie was on hand to introduce the film, and there were plenty of questions afterwards about when the film will get a UK release.
Alongside the crowdpleasers there was the usual round of excellent student shorts, hand-picked to match every feature (thanks to Festival partners at Sydney Film School, Swinburne University, and VCA – University of Melbourne).
The Festival kicked off on Thursday with the London premiere of mind-bending indie thriller Reaching Distance. The film’s production designer, Laura Murray, was in attendance, jumping on stage for a quick intro and drawing the well-stocked raffle in the foyer afterwards. Our late screening on Saturday was another cracking indie genre film, the outback noir Locusts, which screened in its European premiere.
Also making its European debut was the Closing Gala film, Suburban Wildlife, a really fantastic coming-of-age indie, co-produced, co-written, and directed by Imogen McCluskey, who flew over for a post-screening Q&A.
Elsewhere during the festival were screened two utterly brilliant documentaries (Ghosthunter and Backtrack Boys), and a pair of rarely screened classics, celebrating the 40th anniversary of the wonderful My Brilliant Career, and the 20th anniversary of the criminally underseen ensemble drama Erskineville Kings, which gave early screen time to both Hugh Jackman and Joel Edgerton.
A particular highlight came with the Pride screening of another classic, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, celebrating its 25th anniversary. With director Stephan Elliott unable to make the promised Q&A at Picturehouse Central, he sent along his deputy, the indefatigable Terence Stamp (aka Priscilla’s trans curmudgeon Bernadette), who delighted the crowd with a frank, and often hilarious Q&A prior to the film.
As usual there were ample treats in the way of free books to all Festival goers and an abundance of Aussie Twisties, Violet Crumbles and other delights.
FANZA was proud to support the Festival and we look forward to doing so again in 2020.