This weekend the 8th Byron Bay International Film Festival ended 10 days of eye opening, thought provoking and inspiring cinema with awards presentations, parties and fascinating panel discussions attended by actor Jack Thompson, world champion surfer Layne Beachly and her husband, Kirk Pengilly of INXS.
On Saturday evening Jack Thompson and his renowned film critic brother, Peter Thompson, attended the Closing Red Carpet Gala Event at the Palace Cinema Byron Bay for the world premiere of award-winning director, Cathy Henkel’s impactful film, Rise Of The Eco Warriors. The film is about an international group of young people chosen to take a 100-day challenge to save rainforests and orangutans in a region of Borneo devastated by palm oil production. It received a standing ovation.
At the same time, Layne Beachley, Kirk Pengilly, and free surfer Dave Rastovich joined MC and surf legend Brad Farmer at the world premiere of Burra Jurra at the Byron Community Centre. The film is a documentary about a local surf charity changing the lives of local indigenous kids of which Beachley is a patron and supporter.
The screenings were followed by an after party at the Byron Community Centre that was catered by hatted chef Andy Wheeler of Ellenix restaurant, Lennox Heads. The party was also attended by the Opening Night film’s star, American musician Armen Ra, dancing man Tommy Franklin, and many local and international filmmakers, including BAFTA-winner Hattie Dalton. Awards ceremonies took place and dancing carried on until the wee hours.
The 8th Byron Bay international Film Festival awards were announced as follows:
- BBFF Best Film: When My Sorrow Died: The Legend Of Armen Ra & The Theremin (USA), Director, Robert Nazar Arjoyan
- BBFF Best Dramatic Feature: The Deflowering Of Eva Van End (Netherlands), Director, Michiel ten Horn
- BBFF Best Documentary: When My Sorrow Died: The Legend Of Armen Ra & The Theremin (USA), Director, Robert Nazar Arjoyan
- Screenzone International Documentary Prize: Gore Vidal: The United States Of Amnesia (USA), Director Nicholas D. Wrathall
- BBFF Best Surf Film: OUT In The Line-up (Australia), Director Ian W. Thompson
- BBFF Young Australian Filmmaker Of The Year: Director former Tropfest Winner, Genevieve Clay-Smith for The Interviewer (Australia)
- The Echo Best Byron Film: Tied between 2 Degrees (Australia) Director Jeff Canin and Burra Jurra (Australia) Director Juliet Carrington.
- The Byron At Byron Best Environmental Film: Gasland Part II (USA), Oscar-nominated and Emmy-winning Director, Josh Fox.
- Fox Creek Wines Best Short Film: The Audition (USA), Director Michael Haussman
- BBFF Best Music Video: Tales Of Us by Goldfrapp (UK) Director Lisa Gunning
- BBFF Best Cinematography: God’s Got His Head In The Clouds (Italy), Director: Gianluca Sodaro
- BBFF Best Experimental Film: Leviathan Ages (UK), Director Jon Yeo
- Greenhouse FX Best Animation: Shave It (Argentina), Director Fernando Maldonado & Jorge Tereso
- BBFF Award for Outstanding Contribution to the Northern Rivers: IMAX pioneer, John Wylie
Opening Night’s film, When My Sorrow Died: The Legend Of Armen Ra & The Theremin, took out two of the most coveted awards, Best Film and Best Documentary. Its subject, master theremin player Armen Ra, attending from Los Angeles said, “I was honestly really surprised and grateful and humbled to win these awards. This town has shown us so much love that it’s going to be very hard to leave. However, I will return!”
“I think we won these awards because the people of Byron Bay resonated with the message we’re trying to get across in their own ways – embracing and celebrating individuality”.
Festival Director, J’aimee Skippon-Volke says, “In this year’s official selection a theme of inclusivity and moving towards social equality naturally took form. It has almost taken us by surprise how strongly audiences have reacted to this and really embraced it.”
She adds, “We feel Best Film, When My Sorrow Died: The Legend Of Armen Ra & The Theremin, really exemplified this in a powerful and universally touching way and we see big things ahead for it.”
“Overall, we have had such great, positive feedback about the festival and a really fun vibe at the parties. There’s been a lot of dancing. It’s terrific to see attendance growing at our regional venues. It just inspires us to make each year better and better.”