JOKE TIME: Director of the film Pharaoh vs The Egyptians Akmal Saleh hams it up with producer wife Catie.
JOKE TIME: Director of the film Pharaoh vs The Egyptians Akmal Saleh hams it up with producer wife Catie. Doug Eaton

Festival awash with talent

IF THERE'S one event that's not too disrupted by the rain, or maybe even revels in it, it's the Byron Bay International Film Festival.

"We've had four sold-out shows just over the weekend and standing ovations for Cathy (Henkle's) film and Akmal (Saleh's) film," festival director J'aimee Skippon-Volke said at the filmmakers' breakfast in Ballina yesterday.

"I think this horrible little drizzly thing that we've been having has been a good thing for us."

The seventh annual Byron Bay International Film Festival started rolling on Friday, with the opening night gala and screening of The World Before Her.

Underbelly's Martin Sacks, director Paul Cox and film reviewer Peter Thompson walked the red carpet, while Jack Thompson was unable to fly out of Sydney in time for the event due to the inclement weather.

Comedian and Byron Bay resident Akmal Saleh and his wife Catie premiered their film Pharaoh vs The Egyptians on Sunday.

Akmal's film began with the idea of telling the story of Egypt's 2011 revolution, but with a comedic twist.

Akmal and Catie spent a month in Egypt six months after protesters brought down president Hosni Mubarak's 29-year rule, in large part via social media.

The filmmakers soon realised their shots of KFC in front of the pyramids didn't fit.

"As I learnt and got to know the story more intimately and got to know these people and the gravity of what they'd been through, talking to people who had been tortured, it was just so silly of me to try and be funny," Akmal said.

The film festival continues until Sunday in Byron Bay, Lismore and Murwillumbah.



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