Film festival shocases world-firsts

A scene from the film Lullabye Before I Wake, one of the many films being showcased during the Byron bay Film Festival.

In true Rainbow Region style, the Byron Bay Film Festival has a bigger and better screen for this years films made from hemp, of course.

The screens creator, local man Noel Jeffries, believes its a world-first.

As far I know this is the worlds first hemp screen for the cinema and its having its unveiling right here in Byron, he said.

The third annual Byron Bay Film Festival is screening over 150 films from 34 countries over eight days, kicking off with the world premiere of Stephen Currys new short film You Better Watch Out at the red carpet gala opening this Friday, February 29.

The feature film for the opening will be the world premiere of Monkey Puzzle, an intense drama about friendship as five friends journey into the Blue Mountains to find a Wollemi Pine.

With an acrobatic aerial display from Circus Arts, a catered after-party and door prizes for the best dressed in red, the evening is a real showbiz, red carpet affair.

The festival proper features 30 sessions screening at all times of the day, so no matter what your schedule or taste theres something to watch.

As it is held in Byron Bay, there are three feature-length surf films making their Australian premiere plus the world premiere of Benjamin Safaris documentary surf film Byron Tales screening next Thursday.

If spirituality is more your thing then there is a series of films that may appeal.

On Wednesday, March 5, the evening session focuses on Tibet with a couple of Australian premieres Yoga Noga Reyoga and Fate of Lhapa as well as the world premiere of Year of the Underdog, a film about 23 Tibetans cycling across India in the lead up to the Beijing Olympics to focus the worlds attention on issues of Tibetan independence.

Films about social justice and politics are also a feature of the Byron Bay Film Festival.

The evening session on Tuesday, March 4, sees the Australian premiere of Choose Connor, a film about a promising young 15-year-old becoming exposed to the dirty side of world politics.

Theres also the Australian premiere of Mr Conservative: Goldwater on Goldwater, an insightful documentary about the fascinating US Senator Barry Goldwater made by his grand-daughter a man who helped define an era of US conservatism and yet supported gay rights and abortion.

For the environmentally minded film-goers, Monday evenings session features the Australian premiere of Saving Luna, an incredible film about the struggle to save a lost baby orca (killer whale). Monday night also sees the a screening of local filmmaker Dean Jeffreys documentary Peace at Shoalwater Bay 2007.

Also not to be missed on Monday evening is the world premiere of Ngali Na Mala Jugun, a film about Wollumbin and many other sacred sites in the Bundjalung, and on Saturday afternoon the film Lullabye Before I Wake, about a Western student who goes to study in Thailand and falls in love.

There are too many fascinating films to preview here, so check out the program for yourself at Youll find family films, animation, docos, dramas, comedies and much more.

Opening night tickets are $35 and other sessions vary in price, starting from $5. To book phone 6685 6807.

Freebie: The Echo has a double pass to any session of your choice to giveaway. To go in the draw to win phone 6622 2888 between 10 and 10.15am on Monday, March 3, and tell us what world-first innovation the Byron Bay Film Festival has this year.

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