‘6 Festivals’ and ‘Gravel Road’ bring a musical flair to Cinefest Oz

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‘6 Festivals’ and ‘Gravel Road’ bring a musical flair to Cinefest Oz

Words by Ben Lamb

The time’s almost here for Margaret River’s CinefestOz, one of Australia’s most renowned film festivals. The program has recently been released, and its jam packed with some great films across a variety of genres.

We caught up with some of the team behind two of their music films, 6 Festivals and Gravel Road, to chat about the world of music in film and what makes their films special. With Splendour in the Grass recently moving into our rear-view mirrors, festivals are back in full swing at the moment, and 6 Festivals brings the best of them to the big screen.

Yasmin Honeychurch stars as Summer, the ‘mom’ of a friend trio, who journey through some of Australia’s coolest music festivals in search of an escape within 6 Festivals. We caught up with Yasmin to dive into the role and what the movie is all about.

“The warmth towards her friends is what attracted me to the role of Summer,” Yasmin says. “She’s this mother hen character, she has a very protective nature, I can definitely relate to that.

“She’s with the boys, (co-stars Rory Potter and Rasmus King), and they’re the ones who are the troublemakers.”

The chemistry between Yasmin, Rory and Rasmus is magnetic, you are almost immediately drawn into their relationship and establish an emotional connection.

“They’re just really cool dudes to hang out with, I felt really honoured to be on screen with them. I have no idea what they’ll do with their careers, but I think they’re going to absolutely smash it no matter what.”

Without spoiling the emotional crux of 6 Festivals, the movie details the journey of the trio through some of Australia’s coolest festivals, and viewers are treated to cameo appearances from bands and musos like Dune Rats, G Flip, Bliss n Eso, B Wise, Peking Duk, Ruby Fields, Jerome Farah and Lime Cordiale to name a few.

“It’s really cool to have their music included, because the whole way through I’m watching it I’m singing along to the songs, these are some of my favourite bands growing up.

Many Aussies today find a great deal of emotional connection to those artists, but away from live shows, the ways to celebrate that connection are few and far between.

Through 6 Festivals bringing modern music to the feature film – sphere, audiences can find new ways to interact with some of their favourite Aussie tunes.

“For a lot of these younger kids growing up in Australia, a lot of these artists like the Duneys (Dune Rats), are articulating exactly how they feel, being able to sing songs like ‘Bullshit’ and stuff like that.

“Then there’s political music, which is great as well, I think there’s always something to relate to in music.”

Gravel Road brings a different look into the world of music, and director Tristan Pemberton gave us a look behind the scenes.

The movie focuses on the journey of Jay Minning, frontman of The Desert Stars, and the first tour of the group. Tristan notes the idea for the film has been a long time coming.

“I first heard about the Spinifex people about 15 years ago from my sister, and I thought it was an amazing story, and someone should make a film out of it.

“I got in touch with the community and asked if I could come out and have a chat about it. Then about four years ago, I was invited to make a music promo for The Desert Stars, and  Jay (Minning) and I worked together and collaborated.

“When I heard the band was going to get on the road, I thought I need to capture this, it’s a historic moment, that’s how it all came about.”

Ahead of the national premiere at CinefestOZ, Gravel Road recently had a screening at the Phoenix film festival, showing that the story of a First Nations band really has no boundaries, they are voices that need to be heard from people across the world.

“It was really engaging, the audience were really engaged, you could tell through the questions people were asking, not just about the music, but the band, the community, the culture, and the outback.”

Unfortunately, the life of a First Nations person isn’t one we are accustomed to seeing very often on the big screen, but we are moving into a time where it is becoming a little bit more common. Tristan notes that with his interactions with the band, they are happy with their story being shared to cinema-goers across the globe.

The idea that their movie and story is being heard by audiences as far as the USA has kept Jay Minning and his group hopeful for what the future holds for the next generations.

“With the discussions I’ve had with Jay and Derek (guitarist), they’re really happy the film’s being made, and it’s telling their story, their way.

“It goes back to the original conversation I had, back when I first went out to the community in 2009, they’re very proud their culture has survived for so long.”

When the film hits the CinefestOz stage this month, Tristan notes that audiences should walk away having a better understanding of the Spinifex people.

“I hope they see a point of view and a voice that isn’t often heard in cinema, as a filmmaker, and especially on this film, I see myself as a conduit, it’s not about me, it’s not about my story, I was allowed to capture these stories and share them with the world.

“I really hope people learn something and experience something they normally wouldn’t.”

6 Festivals and Gravel Road are both screening at CinefestOZ, check out more info here.