The film industry’s travel plans went up in the air with the Qantas stoppages.
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2 Nov 2011 - 12:39 PM  UPDATED 26 Feb 2014 - 4:09 PM

Guest co-ordinator Emily Jackson made an unscheduled visit to her desk at 7am on Sunday, fearful that the grounding of the entire Qantas fleet on Saturday would cause havoc for the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF), which starts tomorrow.

“I thought about 10 guests would be affected but we took the decision to hold off and see what would happen (with flights),” she said. She was much relieved when Fair Work Australia got involved and all industrial action was called off for at least 21 days.

That said, one guest, Lars Nilsen, based in Texas, was rebooked and, as a result, stepped onto a Delta instead of a Qantas plane when he left the US yesterday. BIFF includes a selection of films from the US genre film festival Fantastic Fest and Nilsen is one of Fantastic's programmers.

If he doesn't get to Australia neither will a mystery film playing as part of the strand, because it's in his hand luggage. Audiences also won't hear him discuss 50 Best Kills, the film he directed, which features some of film's most gruesome outlandish and comical murders.

Canberra International Film Festival artistic director Simon Weaving feels lucky that local filmmaker Bryan Brown got in and out of the national capital okay on the weekend to introduce the Norwegian film Limbo, in which he plays an Englishman, and to participate in an 'on the couch' session about his career.

“We are still holding our breathe a little,” said Weaving, referring to director Dome Karukoski, who is not yet in Canberra and is due to introduce his comic Finnish road movie Lapland Odyssey (pictured) this Friday. [Read interview with Dome Karukoski here]

Some Australians in Los Angeles for Ausfilm Week also had to alter travel plans, including Stephan Elliott, who directed the upcoming comedy, A Few Best Men. A VIP preview of the film kicked off the event on October 24, then Elliott headed to Italy.

“I had a 48-hour window to get from the Rome Film Festival to Canberra for a private preview screening for parliamentarians,” he told SBS Film by email as his car arrived to take him to the airport for an all-stops flight home. “I got word the second the airline went down and did a six-hour stint on the phones from 2am trying to find alternate routes. I will arrive later than planned on Cathay Pacific (instead of Qantas) and drive straight to Canberra from Sydney with a break.”

For the record, he said the Rome audience “went nuts”.

Ausfilm, a partnership between government and private interests with offices in Los Angeles and Sydney, has one aim: to entice international production companies, Hollywood studios and others to film in Australia, execute special effects there or partner with Australians on Australian films.

Ausfilm CEO Deb Richards said nearly 50 Australians were in LA for meetings, meals and matchmaking, which also involved an estimated 500 LA-based people. She estimates that 10 people were inconvenienced. She wasn't: a marriage celebrant in her spare time, she left early enough to marry a friend's daughter in Bowral, near Sydney, on Saturday.

Others, including Docklands Studios Melbourne CEO Rod Allan, weren't so lucky. He was in a plane on the tarmac when the news broke and, like everyone else on that flight, had no choice but to get off.

Warner Bros consultant Alan Horn, visiting the New Zealand set of Peter Jackson's The Hobbit, changed airlines, was late arriving in Melbourne to visit his nephew, Roadshow executive Seph McKenna, and had to stay two nights instead of one. Horn was president and chief operating officer of Warner Bros. for the 12 years up to March.

Screen NSW CEO Tania Chambers, stranded in Perth, moved to Virgin but still missed a charity screening of 33 Postcards, featuring the Sydney Children's Choir, in Sydney last night.