FESTIVE: Byron Bay Film Festival director J'aimee Skippon-Volke (right) and talent co-ordinator Sue Wiseman at last year's closing night event.
FESTIVE: Byron Bay Film Festival director J'aimee Skippon-Volke (right) and talent co-ordinator Sue Wiseman at last year's closing night event. Contributed

Byron Bay Film Festival off to a very French start

A stylish drama set in Paris about a betrayed wife and mother who becomes a sex worker to save her home is one of the first selections to be announced for the Byron Bay Film Festival in October.

Alice, an award-winning work by Australian Josephine Mackerras, will accompany documentaries and dramas from Baja California, Korea, Macedonia and the mean streets of Melbourne in what will be one of the most far-reaching programmes ever offered, said festival director J'aimee Skippon-Volke.

Despite its seemingly grim theme, Alice is an engaging, entertaining film, portraying a woman's fight for autonomy with empathy and a lack of sensationalism.

"That kind of balance is important throughout our programme, to avoid letting the state of the world overwhelm us when these tough social issues and heavy environmental subjects are depicted,” J'aimee said. "We aim to inspire hope.”

In the past, that inspiration has been achieved by screening films that approached serious topics in a warm, humane and even humorous way - works such as Backtrack Boys and Woman at War.

The Byron festival is often a pioneer with these films, and they have gone on to widespread acclaim in the nation's theatres, J'aimee said.

"We offer locals the opportunity to see them months and even years before they make the 'big time'.”

BBFF is a unifying force in the community, she said. "It brings Northern Rivers people together, including our dozens of volunteers, to celebrate the things we hold dear - the surf, connection with nature, a healthy environment, music, equality and social justice. And like-minded people come to join us from all over the world.

"While it's a cultural showcase of artistic and intellectual creativity, it's also a social event, with opportunities to meet and network with interesting people.”

Byron Bay Film Festival runs from October 18-27. Programme details announced soon.