AACTA unveils festival program

Danny and Michael Philippou.

AACTA has announced more than 70 of the events that will form part of its inaugural festival, including talks with Danny and Michael Philippou, Warwick Thornton and Celeste Barber.

The four-day program, running alongside the awards in February, will also include an exclusive screening of upcoming Binge drama High Country with star Leah Purcell in attendance, a sneak peakat Robbie Williams biopic Better Man, presented by director Michael Gracey and producer Paul Currie, and a screening of John Raftopoulos’ Take My Hand, starring Radha Mitchell and Adam Demos. Simon McQuoid will also share a progress update on Mortal Kombat 2, which has resumed shooting on the Gold Coast following the SAG-AFTRA strike.

There will be a dedicated industry day that will include Meet the Creators sessions, to feature the teams behind shows like The Newsreader, and Meet the Nominee panels, giving audiences a chance to hear from the actors, producers, and directors nominated for this year’s AACTAs. Up for discussion elsewhere will be the future of both AI and streaming, as well as First Nations truth-telling.

As the The Matrix reaches its 25th anniversary, there will also be a look back at its special effects with Bruce Hunt, an animation deconstruction of Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse with the Australian animators, and a look into the stunt work in Mad Max: Fury Road.

Composer David Hirschfelder will deliver a masterclass, and appear in conversation with musician Russell Morris, and there will also be in conversation events with the authors of books recently adapted for screen, such as Trent Dalton of Boy Swallows Universe and Holly Ringland of Lost Flowers of Alice Hart. There will also be online gaming ‘Let’s Play’ events, and an immersive art experience led by painter, actor, and musician Stan Yarramunua.

The festival, like the awards, will take place at the Home of the Arts (HOTA) on the Gold Coast, running. Most events will be free to attend, variously pitched at industry professionals, aspiring creatives and the general public. There will also be a series of kids events, including a Play School live event, an appearance from Bluey, acting workshops, face painting and live music.

The last day of the event, February 11, will be a Screen Careers Expo presented by Essential Screen Skills, aimed at those interested in joining the industry. More than 14 universities have confirmed they will attend the day, and there will also be talks from industry professionals about how they got their start.

Further parts of the program will continue to be announced in the weeks ahead. Festival ambassadors include Chris Alosio, Lincoln Lewis, the MacFarlane brothers and Savannah La Rain.

AACTA director of programming and international engagement Sam Buckland tells IF the team set out to create as an accessible event as possible, covering all different screen mediums and adjacent industries. He hopes the program should have something for everyone.

“I wanted it to be more than a film festival, and more than an an industry get together. I wanted it to be a mix of both, which I think it’s achieved. It’s got all the best elements of a film festival, with screenings of new and classic films and Q&A with the filmmakers, but also has a full industry day for professionals and those wanting to meet others in the industry,” he said.

The AACTA Festival runs February 8-11, with Industry Awards to be held February 8 and the Awards Ceremony February 10. View the full program here.

The remaining AACTA nominees will be announced this Saturday.