Big Screen 2014

Coming to your town
 Cassandra Chester

The NFSA’s Big Screen touring film festival kicks off its 2014 season in Mildura, Victoria on 2 March. Now in its 14th year, Big Screen allows audiences in regional and remote Australia to engage with the NFSA collection and experience the best of Australian cinema. For many communities the festival offers the only opportunity to see Australian films on the big screen, as they were meant to be seen.

Big Screen programs a mix of classic and contemporary features, short films and documentaries in local cinemas and outdoor settings. Opening night in Mildura showcases a new package of restored silent films from the NFSA’s Corrick Collection, accompanied by internationally acclaimed pianist Elaine Loebenstein. Also screening in Mildura are all the major film winners at the recent AACTA Australian Academy Awards (The Great Gatsby, The Turning and The Rocket).

Big Screen invites special guests to introduce their films and meet local audiences. Producer Kath Shelper will present The Darkside at Murwillumbah, NSW. The film features iconic actors telling Australian ghost stories and Kath Shelper will be recording ghost stories from audience members before and after the screening. Read an interview with director Warwick Thornton about the NFSA building’s featured role in the documentary.

Special guests at Big Screen events in 2013 included actors Magda Szubanski (Goddess), Aaron Pedersen (Mystery Road), Paul Mercurio (Strictly Ballroom) and directors Kim Mordaunt (The Rocket) and Robert Connolly (Underground: The Julian Assange Story).

In February-March, Big Screen visits Mildura, Ouyen and Traralgon, Victoria; Murwillumbah and Wentworth, NSW; and Bundaberg, Qld. Screening highlights include current box-office hit The Railway Man (pictured above), with Colin Firth and Nicole Kidman; cricket comedy Backyard Ashes; Baz Luhrmann’s Moulin Rouge!; and a family-friendly screening of Ferngully: The Last Rainforest.

A feature of Big Screen festivals is affordable films for families; the NFSA also supports local communities where it can through fundraisers or by hosting events like short film workshops.

In 2013 Big Screen visited 29 locations and screened films to over 11,000 people across Australia. Other Big Screen locations planned for the first half of 2014 include Mallacoota, Cann River and Briagolong in Victoria; Nanango and Kingaroy in Queensland; and Darwin in the Northern Territory. Return visits to South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia are expected later in the year.

We would like to thank all the people from the communities where we tour; without them Big Screen wouldn’t happen. Cinema owners and managers, local councils, film societies and volunteers all contribute to make Big Screen a success.