Not even thunder and lightning could scare off Perth's hardcore film buffs for the opening of the 2012-13 Lotterywest Film Festival.
The open-air Somerville theatre at the University of Western Australia played host to hundreds of guests who dined on Mexican-style picnic boxes and were entertained by folk musician James Teague in honour of the film on show, Searching for Sugar Man, which tells the incredible true story of 70s folk musician Rodriguez in Audience Award-winning style.
Searching for Sugar Man isn't the only decorated film on show; the 25 films share 52 awards between them including gongs from Sundance and Cannes. Six films have been submitted for the Best Foreign Film Oscar.
Artistic director Jonathan Holloway and film program manager Madeline Bates welcomed guests to the screening and said Searching for Sugar Man was everything the festival should be: creative, fascinating and inspiring.
"I think it touches at the heart of what creativity can be, and the power it can wield in improving the world, and how sometimes culture can be one of the best means of personal and social reformation," Bates said.
"It's also a fascinating and, frankly, inspiring story that is hard not to be affected by. Great films succeed at being universal and particular at the same time and I think that's true of Sugar Man."
Films have been pulled from every corner of the globe for the five-month program, but one that organisers are particularly excited about it Satellite Boy.
Shot in the Kimberley, it tells the story of a young indigenous boy's fight to save his home from development. It's an exciting first for the Festival as an Australian premiere and more importantly, the Festival's first WA film ever.
If there's anything that previous Lotterywest Film Festivals have proven, it's a commitment to bringing stunning international films to Perth that leave minds ticking over for hours after leaving the pine tree-surrounded cinemas.
"Obviously, awards are not everything and ultimately it's the first hand experience that you have with the films themselves that matters," Bates said.
"And that personal response you have is what's important."
Films are screening at UWA's Somerville theatre and ECU's Joondalup Pines until April. Tickets are $16, available on the door or via telephone on (08) 6488 5555.
November 25 – December 2: Searching for Sugar Man (Somerville); The Angels' Share (Joondalup Pines)
December 3 – 9: The Angels' Share (Somerville); Searching for Sugar Man (Joondalup Pines)
December 10 – 16: Satellite Boy (Somerville); Sleepless Night (Joondalup Pines)
December 17 – 23: Skylab (Somerville); Satellite Boy (Joondalup Pines)
*December 24, 26 – 30: Shadow Dancer (Somerville); Farewell, My Queen (Joondalup Pines)
December 31 – January 6: Starbuck (Somerville); Shadow Dancer (Joondalup Pines)
January 7 – 13: The Hunt (Somerville); Starbuck (Joondalup Pines)
January 14 – 20: Safety Not Guaranteed (Somerville); The Hunt (Joondalup Pines)
*January 21 – 27: Sister (Somerville); Safety Not Guaranteed (Joondalup Pines)
January 28 – February 3: Barbara (Somerville); Sister (Joondalup Pines)
*February 4 – 10: Smashed (Somerville); Barbara (Joondalup Pines)
February 11 – 17: Caesar Must Die (Somerville); Smashed (Joondalup Pines)
February 18 – 24: No (Somerville); Miss Bala (Joondalup Pines)
February 25 – March 3: Amour (Somerville); No (Joondalup Pines)
March 4 – 10: What's in a Name? (Somerville); Amour (Joondalup Pines)
March 11 – 17: About Elly (Somerville); What's in a Name? (Joondalup Pines)
March 18 – 24: Blancanieves (Somerville); Violeta Went to Heaven (Joondalup Pines)
March 25 – 31: The Patience Stone (Somerville); Blancanieves (Joondalup Pines)
April 1 – 7: I Wish (Somerville); The Patience Stone (Joondalup Pines)
April 8 – 14: Tabu (Somerville); The Loneliest Planet (Joondalup Pines)
*Somerville is closed on January 26 and February 8. Both Somerville and Joondalup Pines are closed on December 25.
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The story Lotterywest Film Festival opens to thunderous applause first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.