Filmmaker Macario De Souza has lived one heck of a life. Growing up in Maroubra, the son of Brazilian immigrants played in punk bands during high school and was also a keen surfer. So much so that he co-directed seminal surfie culture doco Bra Boys alongside Sunny Abberton. He brings his wave-riding nous and couch-surfing experience while touring as Kid Mac at the tougher end of the music industry to his latest movie, 6 Festivals.
Debuting at the Sydney Film Festival, it fuses elements of the documentary form into a fun, frenetic dramatic feature by shooting on location at some of Australia's biggest and most scenic music fests. We follow three young broke mates as they at first jump the fence to bust into one fest, then score backstage passes to five more.
Back of the Net star Yasmin Honeychurch plays Summer, a bright-hearted young woman who has made the most of her life in the face of absentee parents. She also happens to rock a dreamy voice, with Summer harbouring aspirations of taking to a main stage herself one day. Barons ensemble member Rasmus King, rocking flowing surfie locks and a young Heath Ledger vibe, plays Maxie. Hailing from a similarly troubled background, his mum is dead and his dad’s in jail, leaving him in the care of his violently delinquent, drug-dealing older brother Kane, as played by professional surfer Kyuss King. As you might expect from the co-director of Bra Boys, De Souza includes some gnarly surf scenes featuring the pair. Rounding out the trio is James (Rory Potter, The Dressmaker). He may have the most loving family, especially his lovely mum (Briony Williams), but sadly also has a brain tumour crashing the party. When he divulges this news to Summer and Maxie during their first festival outing, they swiftly agree to rack up five more as James embarks on the rocky recovery process.
All three leads are sparkling screen presences, as is radiant newcomer Guyala Bayles. She plays Marley, a First Nations star in the making who’s on the verge of her biggest break but has her own stuff to deal with. She also shares a connection to Summer and it's great to see both actors bring their common history to life. Marley's burgeoning success is the key to upgrading the trio's festival experience from fleeing security to flashing their VIP passes.
De Souza has a keen eye for capturing the group dynamic in a barnstormer of a film that thrives off the back of shooting enormous crowds going off at the real deal fests namechecked. Only one had to be faked, due to Sydney's lockdown. It makes for some spectacular footage and also ensures 6 Festivals throbs with a banging soundtrack featuring the likes of Peking Duk, Ruby Fields, Bliss n Eso and the Dune Rats.
Many of these real-life artists also make time to play themselves, interacting with the core trio. It lends the film an electric energy and remarkable authenticity that's only bolstered by the lived-in performances of our leads. You really buy their ride-or-die friendship, making this a bittersweet coming-of-age story that smells like teen spirit. A monument to Australia's thriving music scene, it will have you whooping with joy one minute, then fighting back the tears the next. Destined to be a cult hit, it even made this reviewer, who thought his festival-hopping days were long behind him, reconsider jumping in the back of a ute, heading to a bush doof and getting lit. That’s some achievement.
6 Festivals has one more Sydney Film Festival screening left at Dendy Cinemas Newtown on Friday, June 17. Get tickets here.