Real Film Festival features shorts by Newcastle’s budding filmmakers

WILLIAMTOWN: A still from Beyond the Red Zone, a short film by University of Newcastle students Ben Fearnley, Kristen Wunderlich, Eli Sharp and Paris Wright. The Hunter’s annual Real Film Festival will screen true storiesfrom and around the world this weekend, including documentaries by young filmmakers from Newcastle.

Ben Fearnley, 20, and Rebekah Jenkins, 23, students at the University of Newcastle, both directed short films that will premiere at the festival onSaturday.

The budding filmmakers said they were inspired to tellstories from their homeregion.

PURPOSE: Cabbage Tree Road resident Jenny Robinson interviewed in Beyond the Red Zone, which will be screening at the Real Film Festival this Saturday.

Mr Fearnley’s Beyond the Red Zonereturns to Williamtown two years after residents were notified aboutPFAS contamination.

“I live on campus,half-an-hour away. I know a lot of people who just don’t know what’s going on,” he said.

“We really wanted to do something that would be of interest and have purpose.”

Ms Jenkins’ Hey Honeyfollows the creation of a successful honey farm from a backyard beehive in the Hunter Valley.

SWEET SUCCESS: Alicia Cooke of the Hunter Valley Honey Farm. She is the subject of Hey Honey, a short film by Rebekah Jenkins, James Diep, Clarissa Skelding and Anneli Wingertz. Pictures: Supplied

“It’s really exciting. We put a lotof work into it,” she said.

The Real Film Festival opens on Friday night,andis hosting screeningsand workshops in Newcastle, Port Stephens and Lake Macquarie.

The full program is available on the Real Film Festival website.

Related stories:

One Less God headlines the Real Film FestivalThe grim reality of living in the PFAS red zone

US-bound migrants press through Mexico

Central American have been arriving in the town of Mapastepec in southern Mexico on their way north.Thousands of Central American migrants have begun arriving at a town in southern Mexico on their march toward the United States, where President Donald Trump has declared them unwelcome and threatened to cut off aid to their home countries.

Men, women and children, mostly from Honduras, had set out early on foot from the town of Huixtla in the southern state of Chiapas to continue their slog toward the US border, more than 1770km away.

They began arriving in the town of Mapastepec, about 60km to the northwest, by Wednesday afternoon.

Their trek has drawn the ire of Trump, who has used the migrant caravan to fire up support for his Republican party before the November 6 congressional elections.

It has also prompted Washington to put pressure on the Mexican government to halt the migrants’ progress.

The caravan, which began as a march of a few hundred people from the crime-racked Honduran city of San Pedro Sula on October 13, has swelled into the thousands as it was joined by migrants from El Salvador, Nicaragua and Guatemala.

Mexican authorities have told the migrants they will not be able to cross illegally into the United States but private citizens have offered them supplies and rides.

Alex Mensing of Pueblo Sin Fronteras, a group that organised a previous migrant caravan that angered Trump in April, said the caravan comprised about 10,000 people.

Pueblo Sin Fronteras is accompanying the caravan, which Mensing forecast would fragment in due course.

“It’s very unlikely that 10,000 people will arrive together at a border city between Mexico and the United States,” he said.

“There will be people who stay in Mexico, there will be people who go to different borders because everyone has their own plan and different support where they have family members.”

Mexican authorities have tried to walk a fine line between responding to Trump’s demands to close its borders while also respecting migrants’ rights.

Mexico’s interior ministry said late on Tuesday about 4500 people reached Huixtla, about 50km north of the Guatemalan border.

A separate group of least 1000 migrants, also mostly Hondurans, has been moving slowly through Guatemala toward Mexico.

Second Newcastle council employee sacked after Newcastle Now investigation

Newcastle’s City Hall. An investigation into the operations of Newcastle Now has claimed another council employee after economic development facilitator Greg Fenwick was shown the door on Wednesday.

The Herald reported last week that Newcastle City Council had sacked corporate and community planning manager Jill Gaynor and stood down another staff member after an inquiry into the ratepayer-fundedbusiness group.

Mr Fenwick was the employee who had been stood down.

Ms Gaynor, Mr Fenwick and city revitalisation coordinatorTim Askew, whoresigned two weeks ago,were the main liaisons between the council and Newcastle Now, one of five independent “business improvement associations” in the city funded bya special council rate on property owners.

Read more:Council cuts off Newcastle Now funding over business plans

The council has not explained the reasons for the two sackings nor made public the findings of the Newcastle Now investigation.

Itsaid last week that it would not comment on Ms Gaynor’s departure“in the interest of her right to privacy”.

The departures of Mr Fenwick, Ms Gaynor and Mr Askew bring to 15 the number of senior and mid-ranking council staff to have left the organisation this year.

Planning director Peter Chrystal, regulatory services manager Andrew Baxter,cultural facilities director Liz Burcham and civil works manager Greg Essex left as part of a staff restructure announced in March.

Others to leave since then include seven in the areas of customer service,development and building, the Civic Theatre,human resources, facilities and recreation, communications, and internal audit.

Read more:Council sacks strategic planning manager after Newcastle Now investigation

The chairman of the council’s audit and risk committee, Dr Col Gellatly, a former long-time head of the NSW premier’s department, quit in April over the restructure.

Lord mayor Nuatali Nelmes and Newcastle Now have had a public falling-out this year over the business group’s advocacy work.

Council chief executive officer Jeremy Bathsuspended Newcastle Now’s fundingin July and launched an external investigationinto whether it had been operating without submitting annual business plans, in breach of its 2011 funding agreement.

Thatinvestigation has now claimed the jobs of Ms Gaynor, who has been at the council since 2010, and Mr Fenwick.

Read more:Newcastle Now, council to thrash out light rail business relief fund

Newcastle Now chairman Edward Duc said last week that Ms Gaynor’s sacking was “very unfortunate, very sad” and praised her as “very hard-working”.

The council has said it isalso conducting a separate inquiry into the“current BIA model to ensure that ratepayer funds are appropriately spent at all times”.

The council​oversees other business improvement associations at Hamilton, Mayfield and Wallsend.

Whincup buys into Triple Eight

Jamie Whincup has bought into the team he has piloted to seven championships, becoming a minority owner of Supercars outfit Triple Eight.

“The guys and girls at Triple Eight are like family to me and if it’s my choice, I will keep racing with them until I am 80 years old,” he said.

“My motivation to be a team owner has risen from the fact I simply love the concept of motorsport.

“I want to ensure that I’m still racing well after my driving career.”

Since joining the team in 2006, Whincup has claimed 113 race wins – the most in Supercars history – in the Triple Eight Commodore.

The team, founded by Roland Dane back in 2003, now counts Dane, Tim Miles, Paul Dumbrell, Jessica Dane and Whincup as owners after the Brit opened up his outfit to minority stakeholders three years ago.

“Jamie and I have been working on a plan for him to come into the business side of the team for a few years, so to see this start to come to fruition now is very satisfying,” Dane said.

“I’ve no doubt he’ll put every effort into learning as much as he can about the running of Triple Eight to make sure that his contribution is valuable.”

Whincup, 35, has a driving contract to the end of 2019 but has signalled he wants to continue in the seat full-time for at least another two years.

As Whincup consolidates his role in the sport, speculation continues to rage around Craig Lowndes’ position.

The 44-year-old announced his intention to step back from full-time driving at the end of this season, but then rolled back the years to win the Bathurst 1000 earlier this month and carried the Enduro Cup with Steven Richards for good measure.

That performance would suggest Lowndes has race-winning efforts left in him, but there’s been no firm announcement of future plans.

As it presently stands, Lowndes would race as a co-driver to either Whincup or Shane van Gisbergen as a co-driver at the three endurance events in 2019, and possibly beyond.

OpinionEnergy chief wrong on renewables’ reliability claim

Kerry SchottKerry Schott as chair of the Energy Security Board has a very important job. Her board advises the federal government about ’s future energy security and the most appropriate and economical way to generate electricity.

cannot exist without 24/7 supply of electricity.

Recently, Fairfax Media reported that Dr Schott had expressed the view that coal fired power stations could not compete with renewable energy (wind and solar) because renewable energy was cheaper to operate.

Dr Schott claims can rely on renewables as a major source of our electricity.

Unfortunately the facts do not support this claim.

In 1990 there was no renewable power in Europe and it has taken almost 30 years of constant construction of wind and solar farms for 10 per cent of Europe’s electricity to be generated from renewables.

About 70 per cent of Europe’s generation comes from a combination of coal, gas and nuclear.

wasslower to start building wind and solar farms and, after 20 years of construction, 7 per cent of our electricity comes from wind and solar farms.

Per capita, Spain claims to have the most wind and solar generation in the world, but theygenerate only 20 per cent of Spain’s electricity.

For the foreseeable future cannot rely on renewables as a major source of electricity. Bill Shorten has said that Labor’s goal is to have 30 per cent of our electricity come from renewables by 2030.It is an ambitious goal. But, even so, where will the other 70 per cent of our electricity come from?

Most of ’s existing coal fired power stations are 30 to 40 years old and need to be replaced. Dr Schott believes that it is uneconomical to build coal plants. I believe we can’t afford not to build coal plants. must have reliable 24/7 power or we will face a massive economic disaster. Europe gets 70 per cent of its electricity from non-renewable sources, so why does Dr Schott think that can survive without non-renewable electricity?

By the end of this year Dr Schott’s Energy Security Board will report to the federal government with recommendations for the future security of our electricity generation.

I hope Dr Schott’s board will consider the overall economic benefit of still needing 24/7 non-renewable electricity as well as some ‘cheaper to build’ but intermittent renewable electricity.

Robert Monteath is a registered surveyor andcertified practising planner