Mur’bah, short for Murwillumbah, not only hosts the Tweed Valley Banana Festival, it is one of the 53 destinations on the national Flickerfest tour. Australia hosts the International Short Film Festival, Flickerfest, every January at Bondi Beach but Mullumbimby and Murwillumbah, in northern NSW, are first cabs off the rank on the national tour, with the Best of Australian Shorts and the Short Laughs Comedy in late January.
Flickerfest is now internationally renowned and this year celebrated 25 years of Hot Shorts – apparently being Academy Accredited and BAFTA recognised. How lucky were we to have it not once but twice within 20 minutes driving distance, over two weekends!
We chose to go to Mur’bah because we love the Regent Cinema and its patrons Ken and Mia. The cinema was constructed in 1947 and has memorabilia from that time, including a huge projector in the foyer complete with enormous reel. Mia and Ken are cinema buffs. Posters of ancient film stars grace the stair way and throughout the foyer are scattered books on cinema, lounge chairs and tables where you can drink a glass of wine and if you’re lucky sample some of Mia’s bruschetta. The ambience is European, as if you have stepped into an old cinema on the Mediterranean coast.
The program on Saturday was the Best of the Aussie Shorts – nine films, ranging from 4-16 minutes. Ernie Biscuit by Academy Award winning Adam Elliott was a favourite. Elliott is a Melbourne based stop-motion animation writer, known for creating Harvey Krumpet and Ernie was in the same genre. A lovely clay model deaf Parisian taxidermist. Nan and A Whole Lot of Trouble by Sue McPherson/Dena Curtis/Lois Randall featured 3 women of Aboriginal descent, Nan, sister Min and Bub, the grand-daughter tackling cultural taboos around death. It was hilarious. Imagination Game, The Trophy Thief and Flat Daddy were also exceptional.
We arrived early because the cinema was featuring cheese platters made by our local ‘Cheese Loves You’, cheesemaker Deb Allard. Deb was featuring her Blue, baked Ricotta, Jarlsberg and Burringbar Brie. Washed down with some organic Semillon, Sauvignon Blanc, this little treat put us in excellent mood for the films to follow. The foyer filled up quickly and Deb sold out of platters – we could all sit down and enjoy the wine!
Just before the films started an electrical storm erupted. The upstairs balcony at the cinema overlooks the town, with its Coles, Subway and the local Budds’ hardware store. Out there, the Mediterranean ambience tends to get lost if you look beyond the balustrade, however on this night, with the lightning illuminating the sunset, it was pretty spectacular.