Festival Director, J'aimee Skippon-Volke, is ready for the Byron Bay Film Festival starting in six weeks.
Festival Director, J'aimee Skippon-Volke, is ready for the Byron Bay Film Festival starting in six weeks. Mireille Merlet-Shaw

Feast for film fans

HOW would you like to watch more than 900 films?

That's how many entries were submitted to the Byron Bay International Film Festival and festival director J'aimee Skippon-Volke has seen them all.

"We've had to really go through them all quite thoroughly so I'm absolutely square eyed," she laughed.

"We anticipate screening 170 films over 40 sessions and we'll also have screenings for the local primary and secondary schools."

The first film to be officially selected in the program is former SBS presenter Pria Viswalingam's acclaimed documentary Decadence: The Decline of the Western World.

The film is up for the inaugural $5000 Byron International Documentary Prize, which will be judged by the writer and director of Gasland, a film which examined the boom of the coal seam gas industry in the US.

"Josh Fox made the documentary Gasland so he's very well known to people in our region and we're hoping to bring him to the festival - if his very busy schedule allows it."

Stefan Elliot, the director of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert and a new comedy called A Few Best Men, will also judge a film award.

The film festival was established in 2005 and Ms Skippon-Volke said its profile is growing.

"This will be our sixth festival and our aim is to become a very significant international film festival," she said.

"I think something like 25,000 feature films get made each year but only about 400 are actually distributed worldwide. So our aim is to highlight the films people might never get the chance to see otherwise."

In 2010, Destination NSW awarded the festival 'flagship' event status which includes $60,000 in funding over three years.

Ms Skippon-Volke said the money has helped to increase the profile of the festival.

It means that like Beef Week the festival is considered a key event for the area.

"We're now in a really strong position to grow our profile overseas ... while also exposing our local film-makers and giving them the opportunity to network with film-makers at the top of their game."



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