Half-way through this year’s festival, the Coffs Coast’s Screenwave International Film Festival has set a new all-time ticket sales record, meaning that by the end of SWIFF’23 the festival will also break the overall attendance record. Festival organisers attribute a voracious audience appetite for cinema, strong support from its local community, an diverse and expansive 2023 program line-up, and the festival’s expansion back to Bellingen Memorial Hall for the new record.
With SWIFF’23 presenting the most diverse and expansive program to date, at over 140 film screenings and special events, audiences have been particularly drawn to films from Australian voices – from first time filmmakers such as Matty Hannon’s The Road to Patagonia – or inspiring, established directors such as Rolf de Heer’s The Survival of Kindness.
Presented by Squealing Pig wines, the 2023 festival has seen sold out sessions across the first seven days, with cinemas filling up in Coffs Harbour venues CHEC Theatre and Jetty Memorial Theatre, and the newly renovated Bellingen Memorial Hall in particular driving waves of cinema lovers – drawn to heart-warming world cinema, ground-breaking Australian cinema and stories from established filmmakers and new voices in film.
Festival Director Dave Horsley says “Our number one focus is getting great cinema in front of an audience who are hungry to be confronted, comforted and connected through storytelling on screen. It’s a thrill to see that audience only grow in curiosity and, in particular, taking chances on emerging filmmakers.”
With the festival heading towards the May 5 Closing Night Gala screening of Beau Is Afraid, (from Hereditary director Ari Aster, Joker star Joaquin Phoenix, and Everything Everywhere All At Once producers A24) the festival has become a mainstay of the Australian film festival circuit – and welcomes all to join in the record-setting crowd.
Industry events brought out creatives, drawn to the Coffs Coast in anticipation of Coffs Harbour’s new film studio on the horizon and SWIFF’s support of emerging young voices through the Nextwave Youth Film Australia program – which saw the premiere of 28 short films, and crowned over 15 awards – including acknowledging emerging regional voices in particular.
The eighth annual Screenwave International Film Festival continues on, with many more sell out sessions anticipated this weekend when festival guests Watandar, My Countryman director Jolyon Hoff, and Keep Stepping breakdancer Patrix descend on the Coffs Coast, along with former leader of the Australian Greens Bob Brown and Australian screen icon Jack Thompson.