Mindfulness is a great thing, but I didn’t need any prompting to be present and grateful the day I sat in the audience at the CinefestOZ Jury Lunch at Amelia Park listening to director extraordinaire and Oscar winner Scott Hicks. I was rapt – like everyone else – with the perfect blend of cuisine and fine wines, talent, creativity, and passion that seems to run in the very veins of everyone who comes to this luscious film carnival.
The largest destination film festival in Australia not only packs a punch but consistently hits above its weight. When an event – itself created to bestow glittering prizes – attracts two of the highest awards from Australia’s tourism industry, its quality is assured. This year, the excellence of CinefestOZ’s delivery model and its maturity was recognised at the Perth Airport WA Tourism Awards by Gold in the Festivals and Events category, followed by Silver at the Qantas Australian Tourism Awards.
Festival CEO, Malinda Nixon, remembers its inception in 2008. “We’ve grown from a community event in Busselton attracting 1800 attendances to almost 29,000 guests last year. In August 2019, CinefestOZ will feature over 200 exciting screenings and film related event options spread across more than 30 venues. We always have an incredible line up of films and this year should be very strong, based on the number of Australian films produced recently.”
Cinephiles and gourmet travellers are both satiated with the format of this festival because organisers have successfully placed a dual focus on destination experiences and film-related activities. At CinefestOZ, you can glam up for a red carpet premier screening of a much anticipated Australian film – complete with real film stars – then bus out the following day to a degustation lunch in one of Margaret River’s finest wineries. Here, the festival’s In Conversation format gives you the most delicious behind-the-scenes experience with contributions by a panel of the film’s director/producer/actors matched with the ambience of world class wine and cuisine.
One astounding feat is how the festival manages to embrace the entire Margaret River Region. “CinefestOZ happens in 35 venues across Busselton, Dunsborough, Eagle Bay, Yallingup and Augusta. We know the key to the festival’s success is the belief and acceptance of it by the South West region, its people, volunteers, businesses and venues. It’s quite unique! And importantly, the choice of place and venues matches the diversity of our audience. We attract people of differing age, gender and interests. Some like to immerse themselves in general screenings, some like the cosy short film Side Bar events in bars and restaurants and others love the premiere events and parties.”
Busselton has its very own Walk of Fame where Australian film icons and CinefestOZ attendees like Jack Thompson, Hugo Weaving, Bryan Brown, Joel Edgerton and Jacqueline McKenzie have been immortalised with their SLick (Screen Legend brick) outside Orana Cinemas.
Last year’s Screen Legend and Jury Chair was Sigrid Thornton of The Man From Snowy River, and Sea Change fame. Like all previous festival guests, she has become a powerful advocate. “I’d been trying to get to CinefestOZ for a long, long, time. Film industry colleagues told me ‘you have to come down’, so there’s a reputation here like no other. And it has the richest film prize in the country; $100,000 to the filmmakers, which is quite extraordinary. It is a really serious film festival with a lot of breadth and depth – the indigenous film program; IndigifestOZ, plus a student program – all wrapped around the very close and warm community.”
This year, CinefestOZ will launch internationally in Singapore on 22 August thanks to a collaboration with Margaret River Wine Association, Australia’s South West and support from South West Development Commission. It is an exciting step for the festival, directly targeting international audiences to visit the beautiful Margaret River Region.
How To – CinefestOZ in 2019:
- Secure accommodation and attend the event from 28 August – 1 September 2019
- Browse the festival program. Program available July 26th
- Grab your early bird tickets (on sale 5th July!) There are major film prize screenings and events, lunches and cosy short film screenings.
- Stay up to date via the event’s Facebook, Instagram or sign up for news via the CinefestOZ website!