Breath of fresh ideas!
When a Tassie film festival attracts the likes of star, Sam Neill, you know it’s having a big impact.
And, that’s exactly what BOFA is doing – inspiring community change through ideas.
The Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival, or BOFA as everyone knows it, is a Tasmanian creation that pulls no punches: it’s about provoking positive change through stories that inspire.
"BOFA is unique. We aren’t your classical film festival obsessed with film making as such. Rather, we see ourselves as an 'ideas festival’ which uses the powerful mechanism of film to get people to think,” BOFA Director, Owen Tilbury enthuses.
That BOFA message is clearly cutting through, because Aussie actor and Hollywood heavyweight, Sam Neill, made the trek to Launceston last week especially to launch the festival.
Sam has starred in 70 films, including Hollywood blockbusters like Jurassic Park. But it was his second movie, My Brilliant Career, that hit the spotlight last week with the 40th anniversary of this Australian classic celebrated at a special BOFA screening.
"I’m sure I’ll be just crippled with embarrassment. It’s an early work and I’m sure it was pretty raw,” Sam told The Mercury before the big event.
Despite such modest sentiments the film had a big impact. My Brilliant Career not only launched Sam’s career but also that of debut director, Gillian Armstrong, who also made the BOFA pilgrimage this year.
"It’s certainly changed my life, and in fact, it sort of propelled all of us on the international stage,” Sam explains.
Throughout the years BOFA has used the power of film to explore current issues and spark debate.
In the wake of the #MeToo phenomenon, one of 2019’s themes was 'Strong Women’, which was also very much at the core of My Brilliant Career.
Set in the 1890s, this Aussie masterpiece revolves around a headstrong young woman who shuns convention to pursue her passion for writing. Sam plays her spurned admirer.
"It’s one of those ones that people have affection for, and a lot of people say it’s had a kind of effect on their lives in a way because it touches on women’s issues,” Sam explained.
"That’s the importance of cinema, it has the effect of presenting a rather more nuanced look at what we are.”
BOFA is Tasmania’s official film festival, and this year it provoked thought with 32 films from 16 different countries.
There were stories about asylum seekers; human endurance; young innovators; and life in Indonesia beyond Bali. One of the most popular was Food Fighter where waste campaigner, Ronni Kahn, championed recycled food for the disadvantaged.
Lively debate after each screening was designed to activate community change.
"We pull together a bunch of experts to chew over what that film means in terms of Tasmania and what we can do differently,” BOFA Director Owen, explains.
"Film is very powerful. It reaches you emotionally, and also rationally by getting to you through the ears and the eyes. We use that power of film in a pro-active and positive way.
"We are interested in how a film can encourage people to make changes at a personal, community or even global level. BOFA is all about what we can do to make the world a better place.”
Images courtesy of BOFA
23 May 2019, Edition 205