When teenager James (Rory Potter) reveals that he has a brain tumour it’s a shock to friends Summer (Yasmin Honeychurch) and Maxie (Rasmus King).
All three are in the middle of gatecrashing the Central Coast’s Utopia Valley concert to see acts including Lime Cordiale, Dune Rats and G Flip. Utopia indeed.
But not one to take defeat lying down, he floats a ‘bucket list’ idea to see 5 more festivals this summer -hence the title of a Paramount+ film by director Macario de Souza (Bra Boys, Fighting Fear).
What unfolds is an energetic coming-of-age tale with a fine young cast and a host of stage cameos by artists including Bliss n Eso, B Wise, Peking Duk, Ruby Fields, Jerome Farah, Kobie Dee and more. Hand-held cameras dance with hip-hop, rap, electronic, dance and rock music all pitched squarely at a Gen Z audience.
If you were in any doubts if you are target audience , lines like “Stay in touch on Insta, ay?” should sort you out pretty quickly.
Against the backdrop of rock festivals up and down the east coast, we learn more about our hero trio.
James has hopes to be an entrepreneur if it wasn’t for this damned diagnosis, with concerned mother (Briony Williams) trying to give him freedom whilst navigating care; surfer Maxie (Rasmus King) is oppressed under the guardianship of his selfish, substance-abuse brother (Kyuss King); and Summer (Yasmin Honeychurch) is a budding but shy singer-songwriter mentored by friend Marley (Guyala Bayles) who is a rising star on the music scene.
There are highs and lows for the three leads with James medical diagnosis underlining everything they do.
“Some days I’m planning events… other days I think what’s the point?” – James.
Filmed at actual festivals including Big Pineapple Music Festival (Sunshine Coast), Lunar Electric (Gold Goast), Cityfest (Sydney), Yours & Owls (Wollongong), Cinematographer Hugh Miller evocatively fuses live music performances with dramatic foreground action.
Stakes are raised for the trio as the action progresses which brings them closer together and imparts life lessons.
Holding it all together for de Souza is the excellent cast he has assembled: Rory Potter for under-playing the inner conflict, Yasmin Honeychurch for her vulnerability and Rasmus King for defiant zeal -the camera loves this kid.
Sometimes the dialogue borders on mumblecore -another reminder, in case the rap didn’t remind me, I’m out of the target demo.
The film also marks the first to screen for Mark Fennessy’s new Helium productions and the first local film for Paramount+. On that front it’s a tick.
6 Festivals works in its authenticity and celebration of a thriving alternative local music scene.
6 Festivals screens Thursday on Paramount+.