Celebrate 10 years of CinefestOZ Film Festival this August with a jam-packed program of Australian and international cinema, sidebar events and spectacular galas. We find out more about this Busselton-born festival from festival chair and co-founder, Helen Shervington.
YMRR: What exactly is CinefestOZ Film Festival?
HS: CinefestOZ is a unique festival in that it is the only destination festival in Australia that celebrates Australian films and all things connected to them. CinefestOZ features a five-day cinematic program of Australian, French and international co-productions, star studded galas and exciting sidebar events in Busselton, Bunbury and Margaret River.
The festival proudly promotes Australian and West Australian film to a broad audience in the inviting south west region and enables international, national and West Australian filmmakers to meet, discuss and collaborate on their current and future projects in a unique and facilitating environment.
YMRR: How did the festival start?
HS: We held the very first CinefestOZ in Busselton in 2008. I remember holding a planning session with David Barton (cofounder) at the Equinox Café and writing on a whiteboard our vision – to be the Cannes of the Southern Hemisphere. Of course, we had no idea how to run a film festival and at that point had never been to Cannes Film Festival, so we really didn’t know what that meant.
We had been to St Tropez’s Antipodean Film Festival in 2006 and understood that film festivals meant lots of celebrations and mixing with film stars, but weren’t aware of the serious nature of a film event. Luckily, the Busselton community and local cinema were extremely supportive. At our first festival, we screened West Australian film Last Train to Freo and Black Balloon, which was written and directed by West Australians. Now, we’re celebrating 10 years of the festival!
YMRR: Since 2008, CinefestOZ has grown from an audience of about 1,800 to 25,000. What’s the festival’s drawcard?
HS: Over the years, many West Australian films have had their premieres at CinefestOZ, including Paper Planes and Jasper Jones. Being able to present new West Australian and Australian films to Australian audiences six months before they get released in theatres, then providing the opportunity for people to meet and discuss these films with their directors and actors is what makes the festival so special. There’s no VIP tent – festival guests and the local community mix and mingle with film talent at breathtaking locations across the Margaret River region.
We can ask the filmmakers why they made the decisions they did and how they feel about the result. Team rubbing shoulders with movie stars with the allure of the south west, and you get a unique getaway celebrating film, food and wine.
YMRR: How has the festival changed over the years?
HS: The event has grown to being the largest regional film festival in Australia and now presents an annual $100,000 award to an Australian feature film, which is the richest film prize in Australia. The festival now attracts filmmakers from as far away as Hollywood, New York, Hong Kong and Shanghai as well as from all over Australia. For the last five years we have had interest from Chinese filmmakers who have attended CinefestOZ as individual filmmakers or as part of formal delegations. We have screened three Chinese-Australian co-productions and held formal film collaboration workshops and forums as part of these delegations. Each year the number of producers from the USA, Singapore, China and Hong Kong increases and this year we hope to have several international filmmaker delegations attend the festival.
YMRR: Why Busselton?
HS: CinefestOZ has become a world-class stage for showcasing new films and in many ways, it is already fulfilling that ambitious goal to be the Cannes of the Southern Hemisphere. Just as Cannes Film Festival changed the small fishing village of Cannes in the South of France and turned it into the film mecca of the world, CinefestOZ has expanded throughout the South West region enabling it to grow. I hope Busselton and the South West will continue to nurture and support this festival, and I believe it has the capability to make very positive changes to Busselton and place it firmly on the international cultural map; to give Busselton the international marketing image boost that wine provided for Margaret River.
YMRR: How is the CinefestOZ team planning on celebrating 10 years of the festival?
HS: We are planning a festival of delightful surprises for our 10th anniversary. We are working on presenting an intriguing, engaging, fresh and new program featuring a brilliant line-up of film talent. This year we hope to hold some of our gala events in the new facilities at Busselton’s city offices, as well as several new and iconic locations around the Margaret River region, and will bring each venue to life with film, music, fine food and wine. There might be cake and candles too, you’ll just have to wait and see!
Internationally acclaimed director, producer and screenwriter Scott Hicks has been announced as the 2017 Festival Jury Chair.
His film Shine was an international box office sensation and was nominated for seven Academy® Awards, including two for Hicks for Best Director and Best Original Screenplay, with Geoffrey Rush winning Best Actor. Hicks’ first Hollywood studio film, Snow Falling on Cedars starring Ethan Hawke, also received an Academy Award nomination and was followed closely by Hearts in Atlantis, an adaptation of the Stephen King novel, starring Anthony Hopkins.
Hicks will be joined on the 2017 CinefestOZ Film Prize Jury by a selection of esteemed film industry professionals, to be announced soon.
- CinefestOZ Film Festival is held at venues across Busselton, Bunbury, Margaret River and Augusta from August 23-27, 2017
- Early Bird Tickets and Cinepasses go on sale July 7
- Tickets for CinefestOZ’s Full Program, including Premiere screenings, In Conversation events and Side Bars go on sale July 28
- Those planning on travelling down to the South West should book accommodation ASAP to avoid disappointment
WHAT ARE CINEPASSES?
Cinepasses are the ultimate ‘golden’ tickets to the festival.
- Film Prize Cinepass – This all-inclusive pass includes tickets to all Film Prize Premieres, all Film In Conversation Lunches as well as four General Screenings and is valid for the entire festival.
- Weekend Cinepass – Valid from Friday night through to Sunday night, this pass allows guests to enjoy as many screenings and events as they can physically fit into their weekend schedules.
- Mixed Bag Cinepass – The Mixed Bag Cinepass lets you and a friend choose up to five General Screenings or Side Bar events to attend.
- Multi Cinepass – Can’t decide what films to catch? Get a Multi Cinepass, which allows you to see up to five general screening sessions at Orana Cinemas, Grand Cinemas or the Margaret River Cultural Centre.
Find out more at cinefestoz.com