5.30pm Wednesday 23 November 2011
Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery
Spring is fluttering her wings as I head towards the Queen Victoria Museum and Art Gallery at Inveresk for the BOFA Opening Night Party. Ahead in the warm afternoon glow and sea of people I glimpse red carpet, black tie, a white marquee and a woman in an iconic backless green dress, alchemical colours that are transforming the grassland of the familiar industrial site into a celebration with the magic of party favours.
The Party pops like a champagne cork. It's bubbles and glitterati as I'm ushered up the red carpet as starlet, along with some 200 VIP guests and celebrities that appear to glide across it and underneath the sweeping yellow pylons that lead to the Museum mecca. I can't help but crowd-spot for my favourites, but I'm not sure I'll recognise the incredible who's who of behind-the-camera Australian film-making talent that BOFA has attracted to Launceston: Jonathan auf der Heide; Vicki Madden; Rowan Woods; Gregor Jordan; Vincent Sheehan; Michael Rymer. I slip into the ladies and have a conversation at the mirror with Yu Hsiu Camille Chen, Director of "Little Sparrows". She's screamingly elegant in an off-the-shoulder long black crepe dress and we chat about how beautiful Launceston is, how much warmer it is than she expected, how wonderful the festival is. It seems generosity of spirit is on the runsheet for tonight.
The speeches are short, the camaraderie long, the Tasmanian food and wine by Matsons Catering superb. I sup on oysters, wallaby, little snow-cones of delicious risotto balls, quail, stuffed mushrooms and ragout before wandering the gallery's Stories of Cinema, Past, Present and Future exhibition with its showcased Corrick collection - this is Launceston's gift to the history of silent cinema. Normally housed in the National Film and Sound Archive in Canberra, it is being shown for the first time in Tasmania, together with much of the equipment used by Leonard Corrick 100 years ago. The white-walled gallery is the perfect setting for such a venerated collection: of photographs, of history, of people. It reminds me just how much Launceston contributes to Tasmania's, Australia's, cultural heritage.
And, like the feature film we're being treated to, I am Happy Happy. BOFA is in town and we are privileged to be a part of such esteemed company.