He climbed mountains just to film the fungi.


A MAGICAL fungi journey through the Eastern Himalayas is the feature of one of the films at this year's Byron Bay Film Festival at venues around the town from October 18-27.

Featuring the work of North Coast locals Stephen Axford and Catherine Marciniak, who live in the Byron Hinterland, the film Planet Fungi - North East India will have it's International launch at the festival.

The duo describe the fascinating documentary as a "a pioneering fungi adventure in the remote Eastern Himalayas".

Retiring out of a career in IT in his late 50s and taking up photography as a hobby, Axford, now 68, said he had no wish to be a "wedding photographer" or "take pictures of trucks" instead he turned his eye to the forests around their property and fungi.

Almost accidentally since then he has become an internationally acclaimed fungi photographer whose timelapse photos of the luminous fungi, Mycena chlorophos, caught the eye of the BBC and snapped them up to feature in David Attenborough's award-winning Planet Earth 2.

The rest, as they say, is history. He is presenter and special effects photographer for the documentary while his partner Catherine Marciniak, a well-known senior features reporter at ABC North Coast, is the film's director, writer, editor and cinematographer.

"Fungi is a huge obsession that has changed our lives," Catherine said.

"We love the forms, colours and the endlessly fascinating diversity of fungi. We love being in the forest. And, we love that we are helping to document one of the largest kingdoms of life on the planet. This is a new frontier of scientific discovery."

The duo describe the film as a "fun fungi safari in remote northeast India that will show you more about wild and wonderful mushrooms than you most likely ever imagined existed.".

The Byron Bay Film Festival is a platform for outstanding independent film talent showcasing a uniquely rich and diverse program of entertaining, inspiring and thought provoking films.

It's a festival that fuses artistry, education and innovation, enhancing our worldview and collective social dialogue through the power and storytelling of film. It is the largest regional film festival in Australia.

Go to bbff.com.au for more information.

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