Four-day event opens with UK/Australian co-production Oranges And Sunshine

At least three of the four Australian features that have their world premieres in the fifth Dungog Film Festival, which opens tomorrow (Thursday), are yet to attach an international sales agent or local distributor.

Dungog director Allanah Zitserman regularly unearths hardly-heard-of features and is known for her passion for local film — and throwing good parties.

“We have enthusiastic, energetic and eclectic audiences, and a lot of filmmakers in attendance, and that’s a great environment for a film to succeed in,” she told “We mix mainstream and arthouse and want people to walk away proud of their culture and their storytellers.”

The four-day all-Australian event opens in the small country town of Dungog with UK/Australian co-production Oranges And Sunshine, which goes on general release on June 9 through Icon.

Turning back to the world premieres, producer Michelle Bourke said she has an offer on the table from a sales agent for the drama Taj, the debut feature of writer/director Winston Furlong.

The script was one of five nominated for an Australian Writers Guild Award for best unproduced screenplay in 2008 and is about a charismatic writer who tries to mend a neglected relationship with his young daughter from a past marriage.

The film is billed as the first Australian feature to explore Indian-Australian culture and cast Indian actors as leads. It stars Mahesh Jadu who was subsequently signed on by Australian soap Neighbours and Roland Joffe’s Singularity.

Former Madman executive and Melbourne International Film Festival director James Hewison is sales and marketing consultant on the comedy Frank And Jerry, a debut writer/director Nick McGee’s comedy about the unlikely pairing of a homeless but optimistic windscreen washer and an American producer working in Australia.

Although rights have now reverted to him, a previous McGee script, The Man Who Stopped Time, was optioned by Sleeping Beauty producer Jessica Brentnall.

Up The Aisle is a wacky romcom in which two sisters race to get married because the first to do so will inherit their gran’s beach house. IT consultant Paul O Gardner directed Judas Falling’s script and Alexia Kelly produced.

All are newcomers to film and it’s a family affair: Falling and Kelly are husband and wife and have lead roles in the film and Kelly’s accountant father Keith Mcilroy is a co-producer.

None of the three films have sales attachments. The fourth world premiere, Guy Moore’s horror pic Bad Mouth, is about an avenging female. Another new feature in the festival is Mario Andreacchio’s Australian/Chinese co-production The Dragon Pearl.

There are 194 films in the festival, including shorts, documentaries and television projects. Busloads of school students will be in attendance on Friday for the educational part of the program.

One of the challenges of the festival is the lack of accommodation and one of the ticketing options avoids the need for a bed: patrons leave Sydney at 7am, watch films all day, party until they get on the train again at 3am, and are back in the capital by 7am.