Warrandyte Festival 2024

Even with a new date and shorter program, our community partied hard at this year’s Warrandyte Festival. From the Billycart Derby run “under lights” in its new time slot of Friday evening, to the colourful Festival Parade and a Saturday crammed with music, food, and friendship, the 2024 Festival will be one to remember.

A Festival of fun and local charm

By CLAIRE HARRISON
FESTIVAL-GOERS were able to enjoy all the usual fun and frivolity at this year’s one-and-a-half-day Warrandyte Festival.
Being held in April meant many of the usual favourites were held under lights for the first time — which was a welcome novelty for the kids turning out for the Billycart Derby and Kid’s Market.
The riverbank was bustling with families enjoying the activities, live music, delicious food, and illuminated giant snails! Saturday’s busy schedule started off with our beloved Street Parade, where Monarchs “sailed” their yacht down Yarra Street and local kids got to showcase their sporting talents and creativity, including plenty of imaginative river creatures.
Both stages were a feast of musical talent all day, including school groups, local choirs, Open Mic, Battle of the Bands, as well as plenty of emerging and professional bands.
Highlights included last year’s Battle of the Band winners, BOTH, performing just before Festival stalwarts The Scrims.
This was followed by high-energy blues and roots band 19-Twenty, who invited a group of youngsters up on stage to rock out with the band. 13-year-old Pearl said she loved it so much she didn’t want to blink, for fear of missing something!
Of course, none of this is possible without the amazing contribution of hundreds of volunteers, some of them visible, some of them behind the scenes.
“Did you know that three local families have been quietly collecting the plastic yellow Duck Race ducks out of the river from their kayaks for years?” asks Dwayne Schuyler, Committee President.
“It’s people like them, together with the volunteers who run the community stalls, the sports groups who run activities, the school communities cooking food, the emergency services crews providing logistics, and the volunteers who set up and pack up the event that make our community event so special.”
Thank you to everyone involved for celebrating Warrandyte in such a grassroots way.

Photos: STEPHEN REYNOLDS

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From Battle of the Bands to Triple J

By AHREN TAMPIYAPPA

BAND MEMBERS from BOTH were back on stage this Warrandyte Festival, a year after winning the 2023 Warrandyte Festival’s Battle of the Bands.
And what a year it has been — recording a single and music video that has since been played on Triple J and streaming services.
BOTH are made up of Melbourne Rudolf Steiner School students Ahren, Banjo, Declan and Sam. Sam and Banjo grew up and live in and around Warrandyte, with the rest of the band hailing from the Dandenong Ranges.
The band started in 2020 during lockdown, when Sam and Ahren, then in Year 8, decided to write a musical about the life of Martin Luther King (inspired after watching Hamilton).
After writing 10 songs throughout 2020, there was really no reason to stop once the project ended. Soon joined by Lelu and Declan, the band heard about Warrandyte Festival’s Battle of the Bands through the music department at school and thought it would be a great way to take what they had been recording at home to the live stage.
Battle of the Bands 2023 was the first time BOTH had ever played live together.
Their expectations were not high, especially with the band only being able to showcase two of their three songs prepared due to various technical and instrumental issues.
So, you can imagine the shock when the MC announced, “First place — BOTH!” Off the back of this euphoric debut performance, and now joined by bassist Banjo, BOTH soon played their first headline show to a sold out Sooki Lounge in Belgrave.
This is a well-established venue, having hosted the likes of Josh Pyke and the late Archie Roach. Following this show, BOTH hit the studio — their prize from Battle of the Bands — and recorded their now much-loved single Keeping Me Around.
ABC Triple J presenter Sara Glaidous described the tune as “…kind of mind blowing [with] subtle intricacies that keep me listening and wanting more.”
BOTH recently released a music video for that same track, with Keeping Me Around now having amassed nearly 10,000 streams on all streaming platforms.
Being invited to play Saturday night on stage at Warrandyte Festival this year was an honour, and a kind of full circle moment — the place where they played their very first show — now playing to a huge, electric throng of cheering and supportive people.
“It’s so heartening that Warrandyte Festival can provide seed opportunities like this for young people who are passionate about music,” said a Festival representative.
Looking forward, BOTH hope to venture into exciting new and uncharted territory in the next year, including recording an EP at the state-of-the-art studios at RMIT.  Well done, BOTH!

Film Feast is like a box of chocolates

By MARC BARRETT

ATTENDEES OF the Film Feast this year will no doubt have relished the new Warrandyte Festival design.
The decision to place most of the Friday night festival attractions along the banks of the Yarra River, next to the open-air tent used for film screenings, had the effect of placing the Film Feast at the very epicentre of the festival.
The result was a Film Feast experience which seemed more festive and community-centric than previous years, the peak of the evening’s festivities, rather than an adjunct to it.
And the crowd seemed to respond accordingly.
Warming up the throng, in the lead-up to the film screenings, was Australia’s Got Talent runners up, Sisters Doll, with their energetic rock.
Giant wandering snail puppets had the kids enthralled (and a few adults), a plethora of stalls and a billy-cart racetrack kept families occupied, and the wonderful variety of food trucks kept everyone happy.
By the time screenings began, most folks were already jumping with anticipation.
Our MCs for the night, Emma Jury and Kyle Shelton (ventriloquist) welcomed us all to Wurundjeri land and introduced our illustrious judges, many, household names.
But before the films began, the crowd were treated to a uniquely spiritual performance from flautist AwareWolves.
With the soundscape gently taking hold, the festival crowd quickly relaxed into the perfect mindset to start viewing.
The out of competition local film Number 11 kicked things off with a heart-warming reminder to take the positive road in a world of troubles.
And micro-doco Gem Amongst the Gold kept the local vibe going as it succinctly explored the issue of Warrandyte development.
One line in the film, uttered by a local, “Leave the bloody thing alone”, seemed to land well with the crowd.
The film showed just how effective a micro-doco can be.
Next, Phone-Nomenon gave us an inventive genre mash-up of sci-fi and historical drama, as a mad scientist’s mobile phone is mysteriously transported back in time to the day before the Titanic is due to set sail (and somehow, still seems to maintain its wi-fi connection…).
What would you do if you could warn someone not to board the doomed ship?
Local film, Favour on the Fourth Floor was a tight thriller with a terrific hook — a man in a hotel room asks the hotel cleaner for a very strange favour.
With solid performances, writing that keeps you guessing and a visceral impact, the film achieves a lot in its few minutes of screentime.
The animation Bearzebub warmed audience hearts with the story of a lonely teddy bear willing to literally make a deal with the devil to regain the love of its owner.
Needless to say, things don’t quite turn out as expected.
The no-dialogue film The Tallest of Tales played like a vampire-rock-a-billy video clip (I didn’t know that was a thing either), as we witness a vampire working her way through her victims in a local pub, only to meet another vampire doing the same thing.
Naturally, it was love at first sight.
Killing the Love Emoji attempted to solve the problem of finding and expressing love in a time of social media domination of human interaction.
The film took on a little more than it could chew but was a valiant effort with a tangible style of its own.
Intermission allowed the audience to re-fill and re-charge and groove a little to the debut performance of Disney cover band, The Dalt Wisneys.
The band somehow managed to successfully rock-ify many Disney classic songs in a performance that was able to please both the kids and nostalgia-seeking adults in the audience.
There are probably few bands that could pull off such a feat, apart from maybe, The Wiggles… And The Wiggles never sounded as cool as the Dalt Wisneys.
Some more “guided meditation” from AwareWolves, eased the audience into the next set of films.
Local film, Stranded began the final session, a film about a young woman alone in the bush at night and her interaction with a stranger.
Drowning beneath her sense of vulnerability, the young woman makes some tragic decisions.
Experimental film Inspire used a mixture of sumptuous imagery and cross-cutting to explore an artist’s relationship with inspiration.
Poetic and confirming, the film gave us a unique glimpse into the mind of an artist.
Tradies was a bit of a comic romp, about a woman who calls in a procession of tradies to her house for her to indulge her sadistic impulses… I will certainly never enter the home of a woman who answers the door by saying “I think I’ll call you Bob” ever again!
A bossy mermaid suddenly appearing in a man’s bathtub is the hook for local film Mira’s Tale.
Quickly recovering from this odd event, the man must then transport the mermaid back to the sea before a couple of crusty (yet strangely loquacious) fishermen capture her.
Their Heaven is a Warm Underworld was an experimental film that played a bit like one part “Furry fantasy” and another part “lost video clip from The Cure”.
Quite incomprehensible (at least to this little black duck), the film was strangely hypnotic and satisfying. It must have tapped into my inner Furry.
Animal Work rounded out the Film Feast for 2024, a short drama about the curative power of immersion. Shunning conventional group therapy, a young, conflicted man joins an acting class to explore his “inner animal”.
Somehow, the process releases his ability to express himself and confront his issues.
Fine performances anchor the film, supported by some effective camera placement.
After one last beverage and a few door prizes, judges announced the winners, this year including prizes for Best Director and Actor/ess.

The Best Director award went to the director of Animal Work, Zak Marrinan, for their confident handling of both actor and camera.
While the Best Actor award went to Jesse Bouma for their cooly calculating performance of The Cleaner in the film Favour on the Fourth Floor.
The 3rd place prize, from The Grand Hotel Warrandyte, went to the charming time-travel film Phone-Nomenon written and directed by Aylee Sunstrom and produced by Aylee Sunstrom, Jack Mason and Tom Vogel.
While the 2nd place prize of $300, from Palace Films, went to the deserving Animal Work which was produced by Bre Sims.
The unanimous winner of the 1st place award of $1,000 went to tight thriller Favour on the Fourth Floor, which, I must admit, was my personal favourite.
It turned out to be quite the night for Favour on the Fourth Floor as the film makers, Harry Quinlan (writer and director) and Lawrence Phelan (producer) also received the coveted “Wazza” People’s Choice Award.
So great to see a local filmmaker receive some very deserving acknowledgments for their efforts!
With the excitement of the new festival format and the growing impact of local films in the festival, the Warrandyte Film Feast is looking set to be even better next year.