Debbie Kruger
My experience with the Brisbane International Film Festival in 1996 was the most enjoyable of my three years as BIFF's publicist, primarily because I was not coming off the back of the Brisbane Biennial, and so I could spend longer on my campaign and become more involved in the programming side of the Festival with Artistic Director Anne Démy-Geroe.

Anne's program for 1996 covered everything from silent films to CD-Roms, and in between some new and old treasures. Extremely popular was the "Stanley Kubrick in Black & White" retrospective and the Jackie Chan films, screened at midnight.

1996 BIFF logo
Debbie does the PR spiel The main program included great new Australian films like the Opening Night world premiere of Mr Reliable, as well as Brilliant Lies, The Quiet Room, Love Serenade, Life and - my favourite - Shine.

The international film slate included Beautiful Thing (UK), Gabbeh (Iran), The White Balloon (Iran), Looking for Richard (US), Welcome to the Dollhouse (US), Saint Clara (Israel) and Mike Leigh's wonderful Secrets and Lies (UK). The Festival's Closing Night film was from Hong Kong — Hu-Du-Men directed by Shu Kei.

Our Festival guest list was impressive, starting with Mr Reliable director Nadia Tass, Jacqueline McKenzie and other cast members including the canine star who certainly stole my heart. We were also gearing for the casts of Brilliant Lies and Shine, and our overseas directors included Jonathan Harvey from the UK, the very yummy Ari Folman from Israel, and Hong Kong's Shu Kei.

And more...

Staff pass
Jacqueline McKenzie, her husband, Debbie and Anne
Jacqueline McKenzie and husband, Debbie and Anne
Jonathan Harvey and Debbie
Beautiful Thing director Jonathan Harvey with Debbie
Debbie and dog
Debbie and the most friendly star
of Mr Reliable
I had a brilliant time working on the publicity for so many great films, and I especially enjoyed working with renowned producer/director Dr George Miller who was the recipient of BIFF's annual Chauvel Award for a distinguished contribution to Australian feature filmmaking.
George Miller and Debbie
George Miller, Chauvel Award
and Debbie
I had known George Miller in the late 1980s when I was hanging out with Nicole Kidman around the time of Vietnam, Bangkok Hilton and Dead Calm, so it was fun catching up with him again. Being a Queensland boy, George was delighted to accept the Chauvel Award from the Brisbane International Film Festival, and to talk at length in a Q&A session with David Stratton about the films he had directed, such as the Mad Max trilogy, The Witches of Eastwick and Lorenzo's Oil, as well as the numerous films and television productions he had produced for Kennedy Miller, including Vietnam, Bangkok Hilton, The Year My Voice Broke, Flirting, The Dirtwater Dynasty and Babe.

There's a seriously enthusiastic fansite out there called Miller to the Max that's worth checking out if you want to find out more about Dr George.

The highlight of the Festival for me - and there is always a highlight - was publicizing the Queensland premiere of Shine, and meeting the director, Scott Hicks, the actor who played the young David Helfgott, Noah Taylor, and the great pianist himself, who attended along with his wife Gillian.
Debbie and David Helfgott
Debbie with the incomparable David Helfgott
Scott Hicks and David Helfgott
A couple of men truly enamoured of each other: Scott Hicks and David Helfgott
Noah Taylor and Debbie
Noah Taylor with Debbie
David Helfgott's career had a huge revival thanks to Scott Hicks and his film, and David is still actively touring and performing. The Official Homepage of David Helfgott can tell you more.
On the same night that we screened Shine, we also held the Queensland premiere of the film adaptation of David Williamson's Brilliant Lies, and among the stars on hand was the lovely Zoe Carides, whose mum I knew from Byron Bay!
Zoe Carides and Debbie
Zoe and Debbie
With so much great talent on hand, I felt compelled to orchestrate some photos especially for the people back home in Byron Bay. The local free paper, The Echo, used to like to collect and print pictures of interesting people reading the paper, with the line, "Everybody reads the Echo..." So I got out my camera and took a few nifty shots.
Everybody reads the Echo

And so ended another successful Brisbane International Film Festival. There was no question about me refusing to sign on for the 1997 BIFF - I couldn't wait!

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