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CinefestOZ opens today!

CinefestOZ opens today! 1

CinefestOZ kicks off its 13th instalment today with a selection of short film sets, events and online screenings ahead of its official Opening Night presentation of the highly anticipated WA film, RAMS, tomorrow evening.

Australia’s premier destination film festival runs until 30 August with a program of live screenings and events in Busselton, Margaret River, Augusta and Bunbury and, for the first time, an online component for those unable to physically attend.

The Festival starts with the Shooting Stars Shorts short film set in Busselton and Borderless Shorts in Margaret River, along with a series of free Australian films available to watch at home through the CinefestOZ website.

For those looking for something different, indigenous filmmaker and CinefestOZ Board member Jub Clerc will go for a magical dive into her filmic life over a glass of wine and canapes amid the oceanic backdrop of Busselton Jetty’s award-winning Underwater Observatory.

The red carpet will then be rolled out at Orana Cinemas, Busselton tomorrow night for a very special screening of the Mount Barker-shot RAMS.  Directed by Jeremy Sims and starring Sam Neill, Miranda Richardson and CinefestOZ favourite Michael Caton, RAMS tells the story of a decades-long feud between two sheep farming brothers which comes to a head when disaster strikes their flocks.

CinefestOZ is the first Australian film festival to host screenings for live cinema audiences since the easing of restrictions in Western Australia following the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Festival may look and feel a little different in 2020 but will continue to champion Australian stories and film through a modified program, which includes 18 features and four packed short film sets, the Cinesnaps schools program, IndigifestOZ and a two-day Industry Program featuring a host of WA, national and international industry representatives.

CinefestOZ Chair Helen Shervington said that the Festival was able to present live screenings in the current climate was a remarkable feat and one she felt extremely proud to be able to deliver.

“We feel so very privileged to be here today opening our 13th festival,” Shervington said. “Six months ago, we would not have thought this possible but thanks to our generous sponsors and supporters we have been able to deliver an event that shines a light at the end of what, for many, has been a dark tunnel.

“We look forward to welcoming our audiences back into the cinema and for those interstate and international guests who can’t be with us this year, we urge them to join us online until we can meet again in person.”

Feature films on offer at this year’s festival include Disclosure, Ellie and Abbie (and Ellie’s Dead Aunt), Moon Rock for Monday, Unsound, Paper Champions; family-friendly films including 100% Wolf, Combat Wombat, Swimming for Gold, The Legend of the Five; and a selection of stellar documentaries including Slim & I, Brock: Over the Top, Coffee Heroes, Looky Looky Here Comes Cooky, Our Law, Rosemary’s Way and Wild Things.

2020 also sees the introduction of the CinefestOZ Short Film Awards for excellence in Australian short filmmaking, supported by Screenwest. The CinefestOZ Short Film Showcase will culminate in an awards celebration on 29 August at Margaret River HEART.

The awards will be voted on by a panel of esteemed industry professionals, including Jury Chairs screenwriter Dot West and producer Taryne Laffar; and Jury members, actors Luke Carroll, Kelton Pell and Kate Walsh and producer Brooke Silcox.

Awards will be presented for Best Short Film, Cinewest Best West Australian Short Film, Best Indigenous Film, Best WA Female Short Filmmakers (supported by WIFTWA), Best Director, (supported by the Australian Directors’ Guild), Best Actor (supported by Annie MM Casting) and an Audience Choice award.

Audiences in Margaret River will also get to enjoy a retrospective from iconic film and television stills photographer David Dare Parker at the shire’s new hub of entertainment, arts and regional tourism, adding an exciting dimension to the region’s cultural scene.

The 2020 Industry Program will be the most relevant yet, with an opportunity for filmmakers to chat in person or online about the topics of the day, including the effect of COVID-19 on the industry.  American actress Walsh will be part of this year’s program along with WA and Australian film industry leaders and innovators.

CinefestOZ CEO Malinda Nixon said this year COVID-19 restrictions had given the Industry Program the opportunity to reach a wider audience via live streaming all sessions. “The live webinars will be anchored and filmed from the Industry Hub in Busselton, with hosts and guest speakers also participating nationally and internationally,” said Nixon. “We are really excited to still have that East Coast presence via technology through various panels and discussions and look forward to some interesting and important discussions.”

CinefestOZ will close with the highly anticipated West Australian drama, Dirt Music, which will screen on the final night of CinefestOZ on 29 August at Orana Cinemas, Busselton.

Based on the critically acclaimed novel by iconic Australian writer Tim Winton and directed by Gregor Jordan, Dirt Music is a gritty, sexy drama about people whose hopes and dreams are lost, and the redemptive power of love. Set against the awe-inspiring backdrop of the Australian West, it stars Golden Globe and BAFTA Award nominee Kelly Macdonald, Garrett Hedlund and acclaimed Australian actor David Wenham, a Patron of CinefestOZ.

For those a little hesitant about attending a live film festival, Nixon said ensuring the safety of all those supplying and attending CinefestOZ was something the Festival had addressed from the start and remained a priority.

“In March, as part of our risk analysis, we began to implement a Healthy Event Implementation Plan, informed by the Western Australian government’s guidelines,” Nixon said. “This is a living guide, shared with the team, our venues and our suppliers. There’s also extensive communication and advice to all those planning to attend physical events. We have fewer venues this year, but each has a working COVID plan in line with regulations.”

CinefestOZ runs from 25- 30 August. For information and tickets visit www.cinefestoz

CinefestOZ thanks Premium Partners Screenwest and City of Busselton and Community Partner Rio Tinto. The festival acknowledges its strong support from Lotterywest and Screen Australia.

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