FOUR years ago, as the government's hard-line policy against asylum seekers arriving by boat took full force, Australian filmmaker Jolyon Hoff, then living in Jakarta, decided to find out where those who were turned away end up.
His search took him to Cisarua, the Indonesian staging post for those attempting to find a home in Australia. It was there he met photographer Muzafar Ali and fellow filmmaker Khadim Dai and uncovered among the refugees a universal story of friendship, community and determination. It was to form the basis of Jolyon's uplifting documentary The Staging Post, which follows the Cisarua refugee community as they built their own school for their children, in defiance of United Nations restrictions.
The film forms part of the documentary program of Screenwave International Film Festival (SWIFF) and screens January 18 at the Jetty Theatre.
Photographer Muzafar Ali, whose work has previously exhibited at Bellingen's Nexus gallery, will be at the all-ages screening for a Q&A following the film, and there will also be a live Skype call to meet the children of Cisarua school.
Among other highlights of the coming days of the festival is the Australian premiere tonight of black comedy A Bad Idea Gone Wrong, starring Matt Jones (from Breaking Bad fame). The film, which won Best Ensemble Cast at last year's South By Southwest festival, follows a pair of unlikely thieves whose hapless plan to rob a wealthy home sees them locked in their victim's house with an unexpected third party. Screens tonight at 6.30pm at Jetty Memorial Theatre.
Also screening today at Jetty Theatre is the LGBTQI drama God's Own Country. Winner of the Directing Award at Sundance festival, it is a love story between two male farmers filmed in blustery West Yorkshire, told with an authenticity and intimacy about life in rural England. God's Own Country also screens January 16 in Bellingen. Also in the LGBTQI strand is the documentary The Freedom To Marry, following the key figures in the fight for marriage equality, screening tomorrow at Jetty Theatre and January 21 in Bellingen.
Meanwhile Oscar-winner Cate Blanchett plays 13 wildly different roles, both men and women, in Manifesto, a film which reinterprets some of the last century's most famous manifestos on art and politics as a series of monologues.
Blanchett plays a homeless tramp, a hazmat-suited plant worker, a widow speaking at a funeral, a bland corporate CEO, a newsreader, and more. Manifesto screens January 16 at Jetty Theatre and January 21 at Bellingen.
Full program details and tickets visit swiff.com.au.