10 Things To Do At SWIFF ’19

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 cafes, 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 a little. Here’s 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?

Bringing the Coen Brothers beloved, sepia-toned comedy to life in a whole new way, local Bluegrass/Americana juggernauts, The Mid North will reimagine the iconic soundtrack on stage – their infectious and spirited sound sure to raise the roof at the Jetty Memorial Theatre. Sing-a-longs and bona fide old-timey outfits welcome!

With two sessions only on Thursday 17th and Sunday 20th, audiences are advised to book well in advance to avoid disappointment.

3. Check out the Closing Night Gala

See off SWIFF 2019 in style, as 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 GateKeep 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 Coffs Harbour documentary, Becoming Colleen, addressing diversity in aged care and later life gender transition. 

Four films also make their Australian premiere at SWIFF: 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

Looking at Program

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 (6, 12, or 24), save some money, and pick your films later. 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 drama Shoplifters (screens Jan 18 & 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 & 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.

Shoplifters 2

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 the powerful documentary Backtrack Boys (it won SFF, MIFF, and BBFF audience awards), the biopic of late bad-boy artist Adam Cullen, starring Daniel Henshall (SnowtownAcute Misfortune, Documentary Foundation Prize winner Ghosthunter, unique Tassie fiction-doco hybrid Under The Cover Of Cloud, controversial art film Terror Nullius, and Heath Davis’ 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 6-minute shorts created by 12-25 year olds from regional NSW will have their premiere on the night.

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