SXSW Sydney: Promoting Inclusivity in Film and Television Production

In the ever-evolving landscape of the film and television industry, inclusivity and diversity have become more than just buzzwords; they are the pillars upon which creative excellence thrives. With this ethos in mind, SXSW Sydney brings you an enlightening session from October 15 to 22.

For those who aspire to create content that resonates with a broad and varied audience, understanding how to assemble a production team that reflects the world we live in is paramount. Many, however, find themselves at a loss when it comes to practical steps and overcoming obstacles. This session, made possible through the collaboration with Women In Film and Television (WIFT) and their global network, intends to shed light on this vital aspect of the industry.

Breaking Down Barriers

The heart of this session lies in its commitment to breaking down barriers and assessing the approach to crewing productions. Oakley Kwon, an award-winning actor, policy maker, and film producer, as well as the head of Loom Films and a prominent figure on the boards of WIFT Australia, Asian Food and Film, and the QLD Community Television Association Inc., will lead the discussion as the moderator.

Joining Kwon are three leading industry experts, each with an impressive track record in sourcing and running inclusive sets:

Andria Wilson Mirza: As the Director of ReFrame, a gender equity coalition founded and led by Sundance Institute and Women In Film, she brings a wealth of knowledge on the subject. ReFrame has been instrumental in promoting gender equity in the screen industry and is an influential advocate for diversity.

Kirsty Stark: AACTA, Rose d’Or, and Emmy award-winning television and feature film producer, Kirsty Stark, boasts an Emmy award for the children’s series “First Day” and extensive experience in championing inclusive storytelling. Her work speaks volumes about her commitment to diversity in the industry.

Kristen Hodges: With over 60 hours of television and feature films under her belt, Kristen Hodges is a Screen Australia executive and producer with a deep understanding of what it takes to create premium content. Her experience spans both Australian and US markets, emphasizing the importance of diversity on a global scale.

Tackling Obstacles and Sharing Resources

The panel will delve into the obstacles that screen practitioners face when crewing for diversity. By drawing from their wealth of experience and insights, they will provide practical solutions and share valuable resources to support those looking to make their productions as inclusive as possible. From casting to crewing, this session aims to equip attendees with the knowledge and tools to drive positive change in the industry.

Networking Opportunity

Following the panel discussion, WIFT will host a one-hour networking event, offering attendees a chance to connect with like-minded individuals and industry professionals. Networking is a vital component of forging meaningful collaborations and advancing the cause of inclusivity in film and television.

Event Details

Date and Time: Friday, October 20, 2023, from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Location: Theatrette – Powerhouse Museum
In a world where storytelling has the power to shape perspectives and challenge societal norms, it is essential that our production teams reflect the rich tapestry of humanity. SXSW Sydney’s session on promoting inclusivity in film and television production is an opportunity to learn from the best in the industry and be part of the movement toward a more diverse and representative future.

Don’t miss out on this chance to be a catalyst for change in the entertainment world. Join us at SXSW Sydney and be a part of the conversation that matters.

For more information and tickets, visit SXSW Sydney’s official website via this link: SXSW 2023

Behind the Lens: George Basha’s Inspiring Path from Actor to Auteur

George Basha, a multifaceted artist from Parramatta, Western Sydney, has a remarkable journey reflecting his resilience and determination. Growing up on the challenging streets of western Sydney as the child of Lebanese migrants, George’s path to success was far from conventional.

In 1997, George received his big break in the world of acting when he portrayed ‘Kemel’ alongside the late Heath Ledger in the feature film ‘Blackrock,’ directed by Steve Vidler. However, despite this initial taste of the film industry, he encountered difficulties securing subsequent acting roles.

At the time, George’s agent conveyed the harsh reality that he faced hurdles in obtaining auditions due to his ethnicity. Refusing to be defined by these limitations, George decided to take matters into his own hands. He embarked on a journey as a writer, penning the feature film ‘The Combination.’ In George’s words, “It was my voice and the voice of western Sydney, which was never really told before.”

In addition to crafting the script, George took on the roles of co-producer and the lead character, ‘John.’ ‘The Combination’ made its cinematic debut in 2009, earning both robust box office receipts and favourable reviews. Esteemed movie critics Margaret Pomeranz and David Stratton rated the film an impressive four and a half stars out of five.

Despite its early success, ‘The Combination’ faced controversy when it was unexpectedly pulled from all Event Cinemas nationwide. The decision came after an altercation erupted during a Parramatta screening.

In 2014, George continued his creative journey by writing, producing, co-directing, and starring in his second feature film, ‘Convict,’ in which he portrayed ‘Ray.’ The movie achieved remarkable success on DVD and quickly sold out in retail outlets, particularly in Western Sydney. As a producer, George showcased his ability to secure funding for both of these projects outside the conventional funding structures, leading to profitable returns for each venture.

Fast forward to 2019, George once again demonstrated his versatile talents as he wrote, produced, and starred in ‘The Combination Redemption,’ a film that received theatrical distribution throughout Australia. David Stratton, once more impressed, awarded the film a rating of four stars out of five. As with his previous works, George independently secured funding for this project, highlighting his resourcefulness and commitment to storytelling.

In 2002, George took on an ambitious project, directing, writing, producing, and starring in the yet-to-be-released “Retreat,” an action-thriller. Myriad Pictures has since acquired the film, and is scheduled for release in 2023.

George Basha’s journey is a testament to his unwavering determination to tell compelling stories and break down barriers in the entertainment industry. His resilience and talent have not only brought his unique voice to the forefront but have also paved the way for future generations of storytellers.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with George to discuss his journey in the industry, and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started in the industry?

I grew up in a very rough and tough western Sydney suburb called Guildford. I come from a big family that consists of five brothers and one sister, and we were always so competitive in sports when we played against one another. We grew up with not much. My father worked long hours just to make ends meet, and my mother was one tough lady who was always tough on us, especially me, as I was the eldest. All that combined is what prepared me to tackle the film industry, my father’s hard work and the competition, which I loved that came from sports and always wanting to win no matter what. I had always had a love for American cinema and filmmaking, and I loved actors like Sylvester Stallone and Denzel Washington and have always wanted to be an actor. It wasn’t till I was In my early twenties that I decided to really give acting a go and started acting classes in 1996. By 1997, I landed my first-ever acting role in a film called Blackrock alongside some great Australian talent, which included the late Heath Ledger, David Field, John Howard, and Geoff Morrell, to name a few.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

I would have to say, as a director, there are a few things. First, you need to get your casting right because I truly believe every actor in the film, no matter how big or small a role, maybe they are all equally important to the project. Then you have the artistic choice you make as in how you want the audience to feel as they watch the film, which will dictate how you want to shoot the movie. Then you have the edit and the music, which is just as important as your other artistic decisions because the edit and music will just amplify the emotions you want the audience to experience.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to viewers what they want?

Both. You always want to be original and add your own flavour to your films. You also have to deliver a film that the viewers want. It’s entertainment, and whenever I make a film it is important that I make it for an audience. Some filmmakers prefer making films for festivals and winning awards. I’m about making films for an audience; without an audience, to me, that’s a failure. So as a filmmaker, I always want to deliver what viewers want.

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Follow your heart and get in the industry straight after school. Believe in yourself and your ability.

Where do you draw your inspiration from for your stories?

The first few film scripts I wrote were written about some of my real-life experiences and, most importantly, from the heart. My inspiration comes from many places real-life stories or from other films I have seen over the years. I will always write from the heart, even if it is fictional. What I mean by that is as long as you believe and love a story you want to tell. Then you tell it and really believe in it.

What was an early experience where you learned that films had power?

In 2009 when I made The Combination it really opened my eyes to the power of film. The amount of messages and fans telling me the effect the film had on them blew me away. Even today, people still talk to me about the film and how it made them feel.

Can you tell us more about your latest project?

Hostile Forces is my new film which I directed, wrote, produced, and starred in. I play a retired soldier who takes his family on a quiet vacation into the Australian bush, which takes a deadly turn when they accidentally stumble across some mysterious bags, forcing the father to rely on his old military skills to protect his family from a team of trained killers.

Hostile Forces has just been released to the North American market by our international sales agent, Myriad Pictures, and distributor, Saban Films. The film has also been distributed in Australia & New Zealand by Pinnacle Films. The film will hit digital streaming in the coming weeks in Australia.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Nothing is ever given to you. You have to take it.

What advice would you give to a newbie writer who wants to make it in the industry?

Write something that is special to you or is passionate about, and do not listen to anyone but yourself as to what you really want to make. The industry is very opinionated, and there is no wrong or right.

What are your future plans?

I am looking at shooting a new feature next year titled Caught Up which will take me back to the streets of western Sydney. I’m also currently working on a TV series with David Field, which is still in the early stages.

From Kakuma to the Silver Screen: The Inspiring Journey of Athiéi

Athiéi is a talented film actress with a unique background. Born in the Kakuma Refugee Camp, located in Kakuma, Kenya, she shares South Sudanese heritage from both sides of her family and is the middle child among five siblings. In 1996, her family made a significant move to Perth, Western Australia, where Athiéi’s remarkable journey in the world of acting began to unfold.

Her initial exposure to the acting world commenced in 2009 when she attended her first professional acting classes at Actors Now. However, Athiéi’s educational pursuits also reflect her diverse interests and dedication. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and media Studies and Political Science and international Relations, which she earned from the University of Western Australia.

In 2018, Athiéi embarked on a new chapter in Sydney, Australia, where her acting career truly began to flourish. Her talents have graced television, theater, and film productions, marking her as a versatile performer in the entertainment industry. Notably, she is set to make her debut in the world of feature films, portraying the character Tina Honsou in the upcoming production, “Streets of Colour.”

Athiéi’s journey from Kakuma to the Australian stage and screen is a testament to her passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to her craft. With a promising future ahead, her presence in the world of film is sure to captivate audiences and leave an indelible mark on the industry.

FilmCentral Magazine recently caught up with Athiéi and here’s what went down:

Can you tell us more about yourself?

I’m currently a Sydney-based actor, but I grew up in Perth. I love and enjoy achieving my dreams and watching others do the same.

How did you get started in the entertainment industry?

From a young age, I’ve always had a love for acting. Drama was my favorite class in school, and I had my first professional acting classes when I was 15. I knew I wanted to be an actor early on, but it wasn’t until a couple of years after graduating from university that I decided that I was going to commit to my dreams and pursue acting as a career. I began, again, by seeking training and auditions, and soon enough, I was landing work and experience in the entertainment industry.

What do you like most about acting?

I love that acting can transform you into another human being and another world. The liberating use of imagination as an artist means that our possibilities are limitless. My character could be a lawyer, a rockstar, a mother, or a twisted or complex character, and I get to explore that story and that world. I get to learn about it. I get a glimpse into it, and I get to translate it to other people. What an opportunity! Acting is so powerful, and not only do I get to enjoy or be a part of the human experience that is right in front of me, but audiences can be inspired, entertained, and taken on this journey

Tell us about your role in the new film Streets of Colour. What was your character like and how did you bring it to life?

I play Tina Honsou in Streets of Colour. Tina is the sister of Akachi, and Tina and Tez have a son together. Very early on, viewers can see that her relationship with Tez quickly goes downhill for more than one reason. To avoid spoiling the film, I can say that his inability to get clean from drugs was one of them. Tina is a strong character who is fiercely protective of herself, her future, and her loved ones. When bringing her to life, I found it most helpful to look internally for insight and answers to many deep, reflective questions that helped uncover her story.

What have you learned from the directors that you have worked with throughout your career?

Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have worked with directors – including Ronnie – who carry themselves with kindness, flexibility, and professionalism. This deepens and expands my own ability to carry these qualities forward when collaborating with others. With Ronnie, I also learned that passion, faith, and hard work can go a long way.

What are some of the difficulties of the acting business?

Rejection. To face rejection and to STILL pick yourself up and move forward despite it. Another challenge is navigating through instability while fighting to stay true to your dreams and other areas of your life.

What’s challenging about bringing a script to life?

There are so many pathways that you can take and ways that you can approach bringing a script to life. In order to believe a story, it must be truly seen, heard, felt, and understood. So there is this journey of uncovering those invisible things that are not seen or shown in the script so that they may be seen, felt, and heard by an audience when brought to life on screen. How an artist goes about this is unique, and the approach can be different with each film or work.

What do you do when you’re not filming?

I like to read books, go for walks, and listen to music.

What has been the most memorable experience of your career so far?

Being a part of this film, Streets of Colour. I had a lot of ‘firsts’ with this film. My first feature film role and the experiences that came with it (from preproduction to release). My first red-carpet premiere event experience. The first time, I did a behind-the-scenes interview for a movie. My first film as an actor to screen in theatres – and so on (the list goes on). And to be able to do all this through sharing a meaningful and significant story – what an honour! It has been such a rich and all-encompassing experience. I am grateful to have worked with everyone who made this possible. I feel blessed.

Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?

I’ve crossed paths with many interesting people, but here are three special shoutouts to Ronnie, Rahel & Yolandi. Ronnie is a passionate and gifted director. I admire his authenticity, uniqueness, and wisdom; he carries that with him everywhere he goes. Rahel is not only an extremely talented actor but one of the kindest, most professional artists I’ve worked with. How he carries himself, both on and off screen, is inspiring and remarkable. And our skilled and hardworking producer, Yolandi, always fills the room with her loving, glowing presence. What a beautiful, kind, and talented human being she is.

If someone is going to make your life into a movie, who would play you?

When I can see more actor representation (of people who look like me or very similar), I’ll be better able to answer this question authentically. At the moment, two actresses come to mind, but they are ten or more years my senior. And anyone else who comes to mind is not an actor. So, for now, my
sister is the best fit.

What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.

Working in various acting roles and being exposed to different kinds of acting experiences on screen.

Rev Your Engines: 20th Century Studios Drops Trailer, Poster, and Exclusive Stills for ‘The Bikeriders’!

Prepare to rev your engines as 20th Century Studios has dropped the highly anticipated trailer and poster for their upcoming feature film, “The Bikeriders.” Directed and written by Jeff Nichols, this film made its debut at the Telluride Film Festival last week and has already received critical acclaim.

Deadline’s Pete Hammond hails the ensemble cast, led by Jodie Comer (“Killing Eve,” “The Last Duel”), Austin Butler (“Elvis”), and Tom Hardy (“Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Revenant”), as superb.

The cast, many of whom performed their own motorcycle stunts on a variety of era-appropriate bikes, also includes Michael Shannon (“Bullet Train”), Mike Faist (“West Side Story”), Boyd Holbrook (“Logan”), and Norman Reedus (“The Walking Dead”). “The Bikeriders,” brought to life by writer-director Jeff Nichols (“Loving,” “Midnight Special,” “Mud”), is a gripping drama that traces the ascent of a fictional 1960s Midwestern motorcycle club through the lives of its members. Inspired by Danny Lyon’s iconic photography book, it immerses viewers in the gritty, oil-soaked subculture of ’60s bikers.

Kathy (played by Comer), a determined Vandals club member married to the wild and reckless Benny (Butler), recounts the Vandals’ journey over a decade. The club begins as a local assembly of outsiders united by camaraderie, roaring bikes, and their unwavering leader, Johnny (Hardy). As time passes, Kathy grapples with her husband’s untamed spirit and his loyalty to Johnny, with whom she competes for Benny’s attention. With the Vandals veering toward a more menacing path, Kathy, Benny, and Johnny are confronted with choices about their allegiance to the club and each other.

Produced by Sarah Green, Brian Kavanaugh-Jones, and Arnon Milchan, “The Bikeriders” promises to be a gripping and visceral cinematic experience. Yariv Milchan, Michael Schaefer, Sam Hanson, David Kern, and Fred Berger serve as executive producers.

Next on the agenda, “The Bikeriders” will be showcased at the London Film Festival from October 4th to 15th. Australian audiences can also anticipate its arrival in cinemas in the near future. Get ready for a wild ride!

A Night of Horror Film Festival 2023: Bryn Tilly Paves the Way for a Spectacular Night of Horror

Bryn Tilly, the Festival Director of A Night of Horror Film Festival (ANOH), has officially launched the program for the 2023 edition of Australia’s longest-running horror showcase. Spanning four thrilling days, this year’s festival promises to be a spine-chilling experience, featuring an impressive lineup of ten feature films and 31 short films from around the globe. ANOH has come a long way since its inception seventeen years ago, and under Tilly’s stewardship, it continues to evolve and thrive.

The roots of A Night of Horror can be traced back to seventeen years ago when festival founders Dean Bertram and Lisa Mitchell embarked on a journey to create an event that would serve as a platform for showcasing short horror films from both Australia and abroad. The response was nothing short of spectacular, with the inaugural event spanning three days, leaving audiences hungry for more. The following year, the festival relocated to Dendy Newtown and expanded its program to include short films and feature-length horrors. Over the past decade, ANOH has solidified its reputation as one of the world’s premier genre film festivals, providing unwavering support to independent cinema and emerging filmmakers. Remarkably, the festival continues its tradition of selecting the majority of its program through cold submissions, a practice dating back to its inception.

Stepping into the role of Festival Director and Programmer in 2020, Bryn Tilly has brought a fresh perspective and a wealth of experience to ANOH. His goal for the 15th edition of the festival is clear: to celebrate the rich and diverse spectrum of horror cinema. Under Tilly’s guidance, ANOH seeks to honor filmmaking that reflects the contemporary world while drawing inspiration from the past and reaching toward the future.

Under Tilly’s visionary leadership, ANOH promises to offer audiences an unforgettable cinematic experience that transcends the traditional boundaries of horror. With a diverse lineup of films from across the globe, this year’s festival is set to terrify, entertain, and inspire, reaffirming its position as the foremost horror film festival in Australia and beyond.

As A Night of Horror Film Festival’s 15th edition approaches, horror enthusiasts and cinephiles eagerly await the unveiling of a program that reflects Bryn Tilly’s passion for the genre and his commitment to pushing the boundaries of cinematic horror. The festival’s legacy of showcasing innovative and spine-tingling works of cinema remains as strong as ever, ensuring that ANOH 2023 will be an event horror fans won’t want to miss.

FilmCentral magazine recently had the privilege of sitting down with Bryn Tilly, the creative force behind A Night of Horror Film Festival, to delve deeper into his vision for the 15th edition of this iconic event, and here’s what went down:

As the Festival Director, what are your main goals and aspirations for this year’s ANOH, which is now in its 15th edition?

I began programming for the festival back in 2014, with the shorts programs and took over as Festival Director and programmer in 2020. I intend to nurture and celebrate the broader spectrum of horror cinema with filmmaking that is an expression of the here and now but can also pull from the past and reach into the future.

The festival is known for showcasing horror films from around the world. How do you go about selecting the films that make it into the program?

A Night of Horror, like the majority of film festivals around the world, uses a platform called FilmFreeway and invites filmmakers to submit their films once we announce our Call for Entries each year. I watch hundreds of movies over months, looking for features and shorts exhibiting originality and craftsmanship. They don’t necessarily have to have high production values, but in order to make my shortlist, they need to show me they understand the medium well and know how to achieve the best result, and that means not casting amateurs, not attempting to make a feature when you’re making a short film, and striving to make something striking and memorable.

With such a diverse array of films from various countries, what common themes or trends have you noticed in this year’s selection?

The curious thing is that I never deliberately select films because of their thematic content. Still, invariably, when I’m shaping the program from my short list, that’s when common themes can become apparent. This year, and it’s no real surprise, many of the features and short films deal with trauma, grief, survival, delusion, mental illness, and psychological turmoil—all very much a post-pandemic expression.

ANOH has gained a reputation as Australia’s longest-running horror film showcase. What do you think has contributed to the festival’s sustained success and popularity?

The key to the respect the festival has garnered over the years is due to its programming of independent cinema, screening films that often don’t get a theatrical release, and dedicated support for local filmmakers, especially with the festival’s signature session, the Australian Shorts Gala. People love a festival that champions a community vibe and encourages it.

Could you highlight a few standout films or events from this year’s program that you believe attendees should be especially excited about?

We have four Aussie features in the program, including our Opening Night session, Ursula Dabrowksy’s The Devil’s Work, a World Premiere. The other three are all Australian Premire’s, Jack Dignan’s PUZZLE BOX, Gareth Carr & David Sullivan’s SAVING GRACE, and Steven Mihaljevich’s VIOLETT, our Closing Night session.

Horror is a genre that often plays with emotions and pushes boundaries. What are your thoughts on how horror cinema has evolved over the years, and where do you see it heading in the future?

The horror genre is often, unjustly, the most maligned yet provides audiences with the greatest thrills. The essence of what makes a good horror movie work hasn’t really changed. It’s about an effective atmosphere and the fear of the unknown. Audiences are still freaked out by the same things that freaked them fifty years ago, be it the weird supernatural, brutal realism, monsters, psychopaths, or madness. In the future, horror will continue to thrill and chill, much like it has for the past 100 years. It’s a genre that relies very much on pure cinema – the moving image – and is best enjoyed in a darkened cinema with an audience.

The festival’s tagline is “Be afraid. Be very afraid.” What do you think draws audiences to horror films, and what experience do you hope they take away from ANOH?

That’s the tagline to David Cronenberg’s THE FLY! People are drawn to watching horror films because it provides them with the shared experience of being confronted with something fearful on the screen yet within the safety of a cinema audience. There’s a real adrenalin rush that comes with that combination. I hope audiences come away having seen films that excite and inspire them that they otherwise might not have been able to see in a cinema.

As the official program is set to launch soon, can you offer us a sneak peek into any special elements or surprises that attendees can look forward to?

The program is out now! Check the festival site, Dendy site, and the festival socials. We have Q&As following all four of our Australian feature sessions. There are excellent short films preceding all the features and two dedicated short programs of local and international films. Dendy has a great value 10-session Pass available directly from the Candy Bar.

Lastly, what do you find personally rewarding about being involved with ANOH and the horror film community, and what message would you like to send to both seasoned fans and newcomers to the genre?

As both festival director and programmer, I love celebrating bold new talent and providing a platform so others can appreciate their work in the proper setting. I love being able to impart my own vision – to curate and select films that work well on their own, but also work well together in the way that any good film festival should.

Here’s a link to their official website: A Night Of Horror International Film Festival

Unleashing Turtle Power: Inside the TMNT Mutant Mayhem Experience in Sydney

In a remarkable fusion of pop culture and immersive entertainment, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) recently descended upon Sydney’s Central Station Grand Concourse, offering fans a unique opportunity to bask in the glory of the iconic “heroes in a half shell.” The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Experience, held from September 1 to September 3, served as a captivating precursor to the Turtles’ imminent cinematic return on September 7.

The TMNT Underground Lair: A Portal to Childhood Nostalgia

The centerpiece of this extraordinary experience was an intricately designed underground lair, meticulously recreated to emulate the very essence of the TMNT universe. From the moment attendees set foot within its confines, they were transported into a world of animated enchantment. The attention to detail was nothing short of astonishing, as every corner of the lair pulsated with the vivacity of the beloved series. This interactive exhibition offered fans a tangible connection to the Turtles’ secret sanctuary, an unparalleled opportunity to delve deep into the lore that has captivated audiences for generations.

A Culinary Affair, TMNT Style

To satisfy the insatiable cravings of attendees and align with the Turtles’ notorious love for pizza, the event featured a delectable spread from Pizza Hut. It was a culinary delight that brought smiles to the faces of fans and made them feel like true denizens of the Turtles’ world. Gelatissimo’s tantalizing ice cream creations rounded off the gastronomic journey, leaving attendees with a sweet aftertaste of nostalgia, much like the heartwarming lessons imparted by the TMNT franchise.

Nostalgia Meets Modern Entertainment

The TMNT: Mutant Mayhem Experience catered to a diverse audience, bridging generational gaps with finesse. Retro TVs showcased classic TMNT episodes, evoking waves of nostalgia among long-time aficionados while introducing younger fans to the enduring magic of the series. The training ground designed for kids and the skateboard spot were hits with the younger crowd, offering them a taste of the Turtles’ life of action and adventure. Classic arcade games transported attendees back to a time when arcades were the epicenters of entertainment, reminiscent of the Turtles’ own adventures.

Notably, a wall space was allocated for attendees to leave heartfelt messages for the Turtles, underlining the emotional bond that fans have cultivated with these beloved characters. It was a touching gesture that acknowledged the enduring impact of the TMNT franchise on multiple generations.

In Conclusion, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem Experience was an unparalleled fusion of entertainment, nostalgia, and gastronomy. It served as a testament to the enduring appeal of the TMNT franchise and its ability to bring people of all ages together. In a world where the line between reality and fiction is often blurred, this experience was a resounding affirmation that the magic of childhood heroes can be relived and cherished in the most extraordinary of ways. Here’s to the TMNT and their indomitable Turtle Power, which continues to captivate and inspire fans worldwide.

Nintendo Australia Unveils Emma Watkins as New Face of Nintendo Switch Campaign

Photo supplied by Nintendo Switch

In an exciting announcement, Nintendo Australia has revealed that the multi-talented Australian children’s entertainer, singer, actress, and dancer Emma Watkins is the latest celebrity to grace the screens in a dynamic brand campaign for the Nintendo Switch.

Emma skillfully showcases how the Nintendo Switch seamlessly integrates into her active lifestyle in this fresh campaign. With captivating games like Ring Fit Adventure, Animal Crossing: New Horizons, and Pikmin 4, the Nintendo Switch provides Emma with moments of relaxation and enjoyment amid her bustling work schedule and touring commitments.

A genuine aficionado of the Nintendo Switch, Emma enthuses, “It’s been such a thrill to partner with Nintendo Australia for this campaign and show how these games, and Nintendo Switch, form a part of my home routine and help me to relax and unwind by myself and with family. Sharing the fun with my husband and sister has been great too!” 

The campaign commercials also showcase the involvement of Emma’s sister, Hayley Watkins, and her husband, Oliver Brian, adding a heartfelt touch to the narrative. The debut TV commercial, highlighting the entertaining gameplay of Ring Fit Adventure and Animal Crossing: New Horizons, is already captivating audiences.

Explore the captivating world of Nintendo Switch with the first commercial starring Emma Watkins and her sister, Hayley. Immerse yourself in their journey of unwinding and connecting through the magic of Nintendo Switch.

Stay tuned for more engaging content and inspiring narratives as Nintendo Switch continues to bridge the gap between entertainment, lifestyle, and innovation.

For further updates and to stay connected with Emma and Hayley Watkins, join the conversation on social media and explore the endless possibilities of the Nintendo Switch experience.

Beyond the Octagon: ‘STYLEBENDER’ Documentary Explores the Complex Life of Israel Adesanya

Prepare for an enthralling journey into the life of MMA superstar Israel Adesanya as the trailer for the much-awaited documentary, “STYLEBENDER,” takes center stage. Directed by the accomplished Zoë McIntosh, renowned for her works like “Dark Tourist” and “The World in Your Window,” this documentary promises an intimate perspective on Adesanya’s life. Set to hit cinemas on September 28, 2023, “STYLEBENDER” boasts of an international premiere that graced the esteemed Tribeca Film Festival earlier this year. The film’s captivating narrative was captured over five years, offering unprecedented access into the world of UFC World Middleweight Champion Israel Adesanya and his dedicated team.

“STYLEBENDER” isn’t just a documentation of Adesanya’s fights within the octagon; it’s a profound exploration of his journey, his essence, and the complexities that shape him. The documentary delves beyond the veneer of a fighter to reveal the intimate aspects of Israel Adesanya’s life. Born in Nigeria and rooted in New Zealand, Adesanya’s trajectory is far more than a conquest in the ring. This cinematic narrative traverses the realms of masculinity, the aftermath of bullying, the intricate maze of mental health, and the transformative power of dance. “STYLEBENDER” delves deep, providing a poignant and multi-dimensional portrait of this electrifying figure who is nothing short of enigmatic. Aptly nicknamed ‘The Last Stylebender,’ Israel Adesanya’s journey is a testament to his resilience, the scars he carries, and the triumphs that define him.

This cinematic odyssey is a FluroBlack production, a collaborative effort that brings together filmmakers of note. The skilled hands of Fraser Brown (known for “McLaren” and “Dawn Raid”), Leela Menon (acclaimed for “Dawn Raid” and “Mothers of the Revolution”), and Tom Blackwell (noteworthy for “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a #@%!”), are at the helm of “STYLEBENDER.” The film’s realization has been made possible through the support of the New Zealand Film Commission and the New Zealand Government’s Screen Production Grant. The film’s completion was further aided by funding from the New Zealand Government’s Screen Production Recovery Fund.

The captivating tale of Israel Adesanya, as unveiled in “STYLEBENDER,” is set to captivate audiences in New Zealand and Australia. Ahi, the distributor of this compelling documentary, ensures that the journey of Adesanya will resonate deeply with audiences, serving as an inspiring testament to the power of determination, the complexity of the human experience, and the capacity for transformation.

As the cinematic stage is set to welcome “STYLEBENDER” into its fold, the anticipation mounts. The life, the struggles, and the triumphs of Israel Adesanya, a fighter whose journey transcends the ring, will illuminate screens, minds, and hearts. This documentary is more than a depiction; it’s an exploration, a revelation, and an invitation to witness the layers of a man who embodies the spirit of a champion both within and beyond the octagon.

From Screening Room to Script: Ronnie S. Riskalla’s Evolution as a Force In The Movie Industry

In the dynamic world of filmmaking, where creativity meets technology, few stories are as inspiring as that of Ronnie S. Riskalla. An acclaimed Screenwriter and Director, Riskalla’s journey began with a humble Betacam camera and blossomed into a career that has left an indelible mark on the global cinematic landscape. From his early years of producing films as a young child to his pivotal role in Hollywood’s entertainment juggernaut, Riskalla’s trajectory is a testament to passion, dedication, and the pursuit of excellence.

Riskalla’s passion for storytelling ignited during his formative years. Armed with only a Betacam camera, he embarked on a creative journey that would shape his destiny. Despite his young age, Riskalla showcased an innate talent for producing films, laying the foundation for what would become a remarkable career. His early experiences ignited a spark that would guide him through cinema’s challenging yet rewarding world.

Riskalla’s commitment to his craft led him to pursue formal education in film and drama. High School provided a platform for him to hone his skills, performing in talent shows, police youth clubs, and various school theatre productions. Following this, he attended a private film college, laying the groundwork for his artistic development.

The turning point came when Riskalla enrolled at The Australian Film, Television & Radio School. Here, he found his true calling behind the camera. The school nurtured his passion and equipped him with the technical and artistic prowess required to excel in the industry. Riskalla’s hunger for knowledge led him to further studies at UCLA, where he had the privilege of learning from Hollywood’s finest professionals.

Riskalla’s journey encompassed roles that spanned both the creative and technical aspects of cinema. His career as a Projectionist & Technical Manager in the cinema industry granted him unparalleled insights into the world of film exhibition. From the days of 35mm projectors to the digital projection age, Riskalla stood at the forefront of cinema’s evolution, running regular screenings and orchestrating special events that brought joy to Australian audiences.

Riskalla’s stint with Deluxe Entertainment, an American company deeply rooted in Hollywood history, was a testament to his seamless transition from the projection booth to behind the camera. His role involved overseeing the quality control and digital delivery of numerous Hollywood films across the Asia-Pacific region. This experience further refined his understanding of the cinematic craft and solidified his connection with the heart of the industry.

Riskalla’s creative spirit found a profound outlet with the experimental feature film “The Day Hollywood Died.” Premiering at the ECU Film Festival in Paris, the film showcased his artistic vision and marked his entry into the world of filmmaking in a different capacity.

In 2009, Riskalla founded Rising Pictures, a Film Production & Distribution company that sought to amplify innovative narratives. His entrepreneurial spirit led him to secure distribution rights for the ANZ and Pacific Islands for the feature film “Mooz-Lum,” starring Danny Glover and Nia Long. A tireless writer and director, Riskalla has diligently crafted seven feature film scripts, each a testament to his creative depth.

Riskalla’s latest venture, SkyCross Entertainment, reflects his unwavering commitment to storytelling. The upcoming release of his second feature film, “Streets of Colour,” underscores his dedication to addressing significant social issues through the lens of cinema.

FilmCentral magazine recently caught up with Riskalla to discuss his journey in the film industry, and here’s what went down:

Could you please tell our readers a brief background about yourself and how you started in the industry?

I’ve loved the moving image since the age of 4; my parents would tell me stories of how I was attached to the TV and even learned how to record my favourite TV shows and movies like Superman and Star Wars in the early 80s.

Throughout my childhood, I watched everything, recorded everything, and used my dad’s Betamax video camera through my childhood making short films and stop animation.

In high school, I was the guy who carried a video camera everywhere I went. I filmed everything. I wasn’t an athlete. I was a film geek.

I went on to study film and video in high school, short courses at my local PCYC and then went to a private film school when I was 17. I was young.

At 17, I also started a job as an usher at Hoyts Cinemas Mt Druitt whilst juggling film school. I was mesmerised by film, and when I laid my eyes on the bio-box (projection booth) in the cinema – I had a vision – I had to be a projectionist.

I kept asking the complex manager, and they said I was too young. I had to be 18. At the time, a manager allowed me to go up and learn projection on an unpaid volunteer basis. Three hundred hours later, I could do everything as a casual projectionist. I immediately got a job and became the first 17-year-old projectionist.

What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?

Not having enough resources due to funding or other factors. For example, not being able to really realise my vision because we couldn’t get a specific location, couldn’t afford the right cars, or being able to have the VFX needed, etc. Trying to match the vision in my head to what’s on the screen is always challenging, but you try your best with what you have to get as close as possible to your vision.

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to viewers what they want?

I think its a balance of trying to be original and having a unique voice; with a story such as this, I was careful to try and be authentic with the story because it’s loosely based on my experiences but also uses creative license to enhance ideas and make them original and stand-out. I think a writer/director must use his imagination to the fullest and try and use different angles. I believe I did this by creating an urban street film and mixing it with a subtle magical element using spirituality which gives it a touch of fantasy. 

If you could tell your younger self anything, what would it be?

Make more films, create more, write more, spend more of your spare time learning the craft, and keep practicing and using those story-telling muscles.

What is your directing Kryptonite?

I don’t know if I have any, so to speak, but what I do believe is that I have the power of compelling storytelling, being able to move people through storytelling. I find that I walk away from films these days feeling nothing; it’s contrived, not compelling, not interesting, and they don’t evoke emotion. If I was to pick one thing – it’s evoking emotion using all the tools at my fingertips. I also have this innate intuition fuelled by knowledge. For example, I have been watching the Oscars since I was a child and consistently trying to seek out and watch the nominated films and then the ones that win.

Over the years, I made it a ritual to try and watch as many of the nominated films in the best film categories as possible, specifically in the acting categories. Every year I have a strike rate of 90 percent picking the winners because I take the time to watch the films and look at why they were chosen for that category. This year I almost got 95 percent, so I pride myself on constantly learning and studying films that help me understand what makes them great.

Tell us about why and how you came up with the story for your latest film, Streets of Colour.

I’ve always been a storyteller, making short films with my dad’s old clunky Betamax camera, so filmmaking is my passion, and telling stories is what I love to do. That’s the first thing.

Coming up with this story wasn’t hard. I was always planning to make a film about growing up in Western Sydney because I always thought it was underrepresented, and we faced many social issues growing up.  I was bullied as a kid and teen for being dark-skinned and not looking like an Anglo-Saxon, so this was a traumatic experience, but as we all do, we grow up, and I put that behind me.

But the catalyst was that it happened later in my life as an adult when I was abused with vulgar racial slurs, which brought up the past trauma to the surface again. 

I knew then that I had to write that into a story, and remembering what a great director once said, when you make a film as a writer, make a film about something you know and something authentic – so I did.

What do you hope the film will achieve?

I’m hoping it will do a few things, the film covers a few themes, and maybe I was being a little too ambitious with that.

Firstly, I want to spark a conversation on all types of racism, especially systemic racism, which can be used as a guise to stop people from different ethnicities from getting the opportunities they should. Secondly, I want people from different cultures to be able to embrace their beautiful culture and not run away from it like Tez in the film. 

Thirdly, I want people to think more about this physical world and day-to-day life and learn more about what’s beyond this world. 

I believe in a higher power, and no matter your beliefs or religion,  be proud of your belief and faith. 

I’ve had many magical things happen in my family that science can’t explain, so it set me on a path of learning and being open to knowing that God exists. 

I want people to experience it through the film and make them think about why we are all here.

Lastly, the film is about growing up in a low-socioeconomic suburb that the media has loved to destroy its reputation over the years. I want the people reading this to realise that the areas we grew up in as much have their fair share of trouble – they also have a vibrant culture full of some of the friendliest communities you will ever meet. The people are kind, humble, and some of the hardest working in the Blacktown council area. 

I’ve witnessed more kindness and humanity in Western Sydney than in any other area of Sydney. The generosity of people from “the area” is abundant, making the place great. 

People need to stop demonising the area for a small minority that makes it bad. I hope the film shows all facets; the good, the bad, and the ugly – an authentic portrayal. 

There are so many success stories that come out of the area. We have some of the most prominent artists coming out of Western Sydney, so I am here to say that no matter your adversities, you can conquer them. It doesn’t matter what your postcode is; you need to push harder.

What were some of the challenges and joys of making the film?

The challenges are always the long hours, and on top of that, having some health issues and a partial physical disability. Not being able to sleep much means your body and mind don’t repair, and in essence, the film suffers a little when you do that, as you’re not operating at your fullest.

Apart from that, it’s challenging for a director to have ten conversations simultaneously. It’s overwhelming having all these people ask what you want for makeup, camera, lighting, etc., and being able to give adequate time and respect to every person.

The joys of the film are the people you get to work with, being blessed to make a film based on your experiences, and sharing that with the world.

What is the best advice you have ever been given?

Learn your craft every single day. You must do one thing every single day that propels you forward. If you have a passion, there will be no excuses for getting this done, even if it’s five minutes towards bettering your craft.

What advice would you give to a newbie director who wants to make it in the industry?

Have passion, be enthusiastic, and don’t ever do it for the money because the money will come, and you will eventually have value.

If you’re telling a story, make sure that you at least evoke emotions – that means to make people laugh, cry, feel happy, scared, or anxious. You need to be able to make people walk away from a film feeling something. It doesn’t matter what it is – even getting your audience thoroughly entertained and excited is the key.

Your film doesn’t have to have a message, but it must make you feel something.

What are your future plans?

Currently touring with the film Australia-wide and attached to direct a movie next year, which hasn’t been greenlighted yet.

I’m also developing a true-crime TV series and two thriller/drama feature films as well as looking at a comedy feature film in the early development stage.

From Sundance Triumph to National Debut: SHAYDA’s Powerful Storyline Is About to Make Waves Across Australia!

Mark your calendars for a significant cinematic event on September 28, 2023. The highly anticipated Australian drama, SHAYDA, is set to make its nationwide debut. Madman Entertainment has just unveiled the trailer for this compelling film, which marks the directorial debut of Iranian-Australian writer and director, Noora Niasari.

SHAYDA, a film that has already garnered attention, is gearing up for its Australian release on September 28th, following its triumphant World Premiere at the Sundance Film Festival in January. At Sundance, the movie received the prestigious World Cinema Audience Award. Additionally, Australian audiences can look forward to its domestic premiere on August 3rd, as the film takes center stage at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

In the heart of SHAYDA’s narrative, a young Iranian mother and her six-year-old daughter seek solace within an Australian women’s shelter during the fortnight of Iranian New Year, known as Nowrooz—a period symbolizing renewal and rejuvenation. United by the resilient community of women within the refuge, they embark on a journey towards liberation in their newfound realm of opportunities. However, their path is soon obstructed by the very violence they fought to leave behind.

SHAYDA stands as an impressive inaugural directorial effort from Noora Niasari, who hails from Tehran and grew up in Australia. A writer-director and a co-founder of Parandeh Pictures, Noora’s portfolio includes short films and documentaries showcased at esteemed film festivals worldwide.

Bringing SHAYDA to life is a collaborative effort, produced by Vincent Sheehan and Niasari, with executive production by Cate Blanchett. The cast boasts the presence of Cannes Best Actress awardee Zar Amir Ebrahimi (known for ‘Holy Spider’), along with Osamah Sami, Leah Purcell, Jillian Nguyen, Mojean Aria, and Selina Zahednia.

A production by Origma 45 in conjunction with Dirty Films and Parandeh Pictures, SHAYDA received substantial backing from Screen Australia in partnership with The 51 Fund. Additional financial support was provided by VicScreen and the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Premiere Fund.