Canberra International Film Festival marks 20th anniversary with Chief Minister Andrew Barr’s sci-fi movie cameo

Megan Doherty


There are not many places which can boast its political leader has a part in a sci-fi movie as a mind-controlled, post-apocalyptic commoner – but Canberra can.
The Canberra International Film Festival launched its 20th anniversary program on Thursday with a program heavy on locally produced and filmed features, documentaries and short films including the stunning sci-fi movie Blue World Order which looks like Mad Max in the national capital and in which Mr Barr has his cameo.

The film will have an exclusive preview as part of the festival on November 5.
The festival, which will screen at the National Film and Sound Archive, comprises 29 films and runs from October 27 to November 6.

It was announced on Thursday the festival will have a home at the NFSA for the next three years.

The program includes 14 Canberra short films, three documentaries and four feature-length films, including Blue World Order which is about a post-apocalyptic world in which “one man fights for survival to protect his daughter”.

The trailer for the film shows the national capital in a completely different light, with Telstra Tower under siege and Mad Max-style jalopies careening across Lake George. The Wee Jasper caves, the ANU and The Henge, the mini-Stonehenge on the Federal Highway, were also used as locations.
Blue World Order director Che Baker said having the film premiere at the festival was a great way to thank the “amazingly supportive” local community which helped make it become a reality.

“Canberra is one of those places which is an undiscovered gold mine for location,” Mr Baker said.

“It’s very often just been portrayed as a political capital but there’s a lot more to the town and I think we’ve been very fortunate in having people know the area really well show us some of those amazing locations.

“So we’ve been able to film everything in and around the Canberra region.”

A trailer included Mr Barr’s cameo at the end as an eyes-glowing commoner who has been subject to some mind-control shenanigans.

As Mr Barr took to the stage, he good-naturedly said, “It wasn’t that funny” as the crowd laughed in surprise to see him in the film.

“I have to particularly thank Che for the opportunity to begin my acting career,” he said, before giving a nod to the upcoming election.

“Before this festival, we have a festival of democracy and I’ll apologise in advance that you will see me on your screens in the next five weeks. But I promise, next time I’ll have a speaking role, in addition to the mind-control.”

More seriously, Mr Barr said the festival launch was a fantastic opportunity to showcase what was happening in film in Canberra.

“We are really, really lucky to have an incredibly strong program supported by passionate people with a view to the long term for the industry in Canberra,” he said.

Festival director Alice Taylor drew attention to some of the highlights of the program.

These included a locally-made documentary about Ngunnawal elder Aunty Agnes Shea called, Footprints on Our Land; a Hungarian film about three wheelchair-bound assassins called Kills on Wheels and a documentary about the first female taxi driver in Southern Indian, a former child bride, called Driving With Selvi.

The first Canberra International Film Festival was held at the University of Canberra in 1996.

A 20th birthday party will celebrate with a screening of the Australian comedy Children of the Revolution, the audience pick from the 1996 festival, on November 4, which director Peter Duncan and star Richard Roxburgh will attend.

Ms Taylor said the 20th anniversary was a chance for some looking back but also looking forward.

“What we’re celebrating this year is that it really is a strong year for Canberra film,” she said.

“In keeping with the shift of focus that started last year, led by Andrew Pike, from Ronin Films, who was the general manager last year, we really wanted to bring back some support to the Canberra film community and we’re going ahead with that this year by showcasing a lot of Canberra films.”