NT Travelling Film Festival hits the road

02 April, 2019 by Jackie Keast

‘Lil Bois’. 

From now until June, the Northern Territory Travelling Film Festival will be moving about the Top End, with outdoors cinemas popping up in both popular tourist hotspots and remote Indigenous communities.


Led by festival director Britt Guy, 2019 marks the festival’s second year. The program includes Wayne Blair’s Top End Wedding, which will screen at Wurrumiyanga, Nitmiluk National Park and Kakadu National Park, as well as feature documentary The Song Keepers; The Tangentyere Artists Collection of short films, and Lil Bois, the first short film in the traditional language Ngandi, created by Ngandi man Grant Thompson and produced by Ngukurr Story Projects.

The idea for the NT Travelling Film Festival was borne out of conversations Guy had with the Darwin Film Society, who run the Darwin International Film Festival (DIFF). They realised that many of the films presented at DIFF from Territorian filmmakers weren’t having a life beyond it – and if they did, it was often interstate.

“These films that have been made about people out in regional and remote areas, or filmed on country, weren’t actually getting back to the places that they were about,” Guy tell IF.

The idea for a travelling film festival made sense to get these films to broader audiences: there are only a handful of cinemas in the Northern Territory outside of Darwin – just one cinema in Katherine, and another in Alice Springs.

“The idea was to create a really beautiful, high quality cinematic experience for regional and remote audiences, as well as creating some iconic experiences where tourists and the general public of the Northern Territory could come together on these epic NT sits and have cinematic experiences there,” says Guy.

The festival’s program is tailored to each location it travels to. At each community screening, there is half an hour of programming curated by locals, followed by a program of shorts from the NT more broadly.

Guy and her team travel with everything; the screen and equipment are carried in a troupie and trailer. “We’re completely self-contained and so able to set up in the remotest parts of the Territory.”

In addition to the film program, NTFF also runs a bespoke program of filmmaking workshops in communities across the NT. Each workshop is put on in partnership with the local community, including with key local arts and community organisations, filmmakers and schools, and is tailored to the needs and interests of the film industry within those places.

“The idea is to be able to have professional development on country, rather than travelling into town,” says Guy.

Some of the shorts that were developed through those workshops last year are part of this year’s program, such as the Ngukurr Story Project’s Lil Bois and I Am Numamurdirdi.

“It has really exposed the kind of breadth and depth of independent filmmaking in the Territory. That has existed well before the NTFF, but the NTFF has become a real vehicle for sharing that with a much larger audience.”