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Delivered Differently

For more than a decade, Darwin International Film Festival (DIFF) has delighted film fans and filmmakers for 10 flick-filled days each September. And although the global pandemic buckled plans for last year’s festival, that didn’t deter event organisers from delivering an altered format with DIFF 2020: Take One.

This month, dive into eight days and nights of fabulous film as DIFF presents the second instalment of the 2020 festival, DIFF 2020: Take Two.

By Tierney White

Let’s wind the clock back to March 2020. The gravity of the coronavirus pandemic was starting to hit home, with the cancellation of events across the board for the foreseeable future.

The DIFF team was faced with an incredibly difficult decision – should they try to program something for six month’s time or just cancel the thing altogether? Luckily for us – and for the local film industry – they opted for the former.

“Two years was just too long not to have any events or development opportunities for the Territory’s film industry,” says DIFF Director, Blandine Ruffo.

To whet the appetites of film buffs in the Top End, DIFF 2020: Take One screened selected films from a decade of festivals past last September. Recognising the opportunity to do more, the DIFF team threw support behind our notably impacted music industry, with local performers taking to the stage each night prior to screenings.

Ruffo says, although delivered differently, DIFF 2020: Take One was a great success.

“The response was really great – everyone was really happy with how it turned out. It was interesting because we were forced to think outside the box and explore what else we could do at the Deckchair,” Ruffo says.

“The audience loved it, our regulars loved it, and we had a lot of new people who loved it – people who may not be film buffs, but were attracted by the live music side of things which drew them to the screenings. I think more people understand now that the Deckchair is more than just a cinema – it’s an experience.”

DIFF 2020: Take Two includes important industry development and networking events postponed from 2020, such as the NT Screen Summit and the Capricornia Film Awards. The film program offers a diverse range of flicks across multiple genres and origins, screening across three venues – Darwin Entertainment Centre (DEC), Birch, Carroll and Coyle in Casuarina and, of course, Deckchair Cinema.

“There is one film that I feel particularly protective of called Mother Schmuckers, and I expect it will have a very intense reaction from the audience. It’s very shocking – a dark humour that goes way above and beyond! Even though some may find it offensive, we thought there would be an audience that would certainly appreciate it. I’m really happy with the whole program and love every single film in it.”

Aussie talent shines on the big screen, with several NT and Australian premieres in the mix.

“Every one of the Australian films will have the filmmakers in attendance. The main actors from Greenfield are coming from Perth – they’re incredibly talented for emerging filmmakers and have made a very powerful film. I’m also very excited about the SPARK showcase, featuring the works of talented Territory filmmakers,” Ruffo says.

A late addition to the program is a very special documentary, close to home. My Name is Gulpilil chronicles the life of award-winning Yolŋu Australian actor, David Gulpilil, who was diagnosed with lung cancer and given just six months to live in 2017.

“Filmmakers Molly Reynolds and Rolf de Heer have worked with Mr Gulpilil and formed a real bond with him over the years, and they offered to make one last project with him, hoping he could live to see it through. Molly mentioned he had a real spark whilst working on this project with them,” Ruffo says.

“She told me she always wanted to present it to a Northern Territory audience. We’re really excited that she will be attending with Rolf de Heer, and Peter Djigirr who is another actor and producer that’s worked with Mr Gulpilil over the years.

“Our audience truly loves local stories – we are truly honoured to be screening this film on the final day of DIFF, prior to the Capricornia Film Awards.”

This month, soak up the sights and sounds of DIFF 2020: Take Two, as some of the Territory’s brightest stars shine on the big screen.

DIFF 2020: Take Two

Header & thumbnail: Tiong Bahru Social Club
Top: Mother Schmuckers
Bottom: My Name is Gulpilil. Photo: Miles and Bing Rowland

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