CinefestOZ Film Festival are proud to announce the release of the 2021 film program, consisting of 270 exciting film and event options, with 17 World Premieres, 4 Australian Premieres and 34 WA Premieres at over 35 incredible venues throughout the picturesque South West region.

Now in its 14th year, the festival continues to deliver a diverse range of Australian films across feature, documentary, shorts and experiential releases to entice audiences to the cinema. The bustling hubs of Busselton, Augusta-Margaret River and Bunbury will roll out the red carpet from 25 – 29 August and welcome filmmakers from across the country to share their projects.

Across the five day festival audiences can expect immersive film experiences at the region’s cinemas, wineries, boutique breweries, small bars and galleries.

CinefestOZ CEO Malinda Nixon described this year’s program as a force of creativity and diversity, in a time when our arts communities are fighting strong.

“It’s an incredible time in Australia to be hosting a film festival, and we’re so proud of our team and the South West community for pulling together such an impressive lineup of premieres, events and workshops,” she said.

“We’ve proven before that our festival is adaptive, and this year will be no different. We have a program filled with innovative storytelling, unique voices and immersive events that will surely cater to anyone with an interest in cinema. Hosting in-person screenings, filmmaker Q&As and Gala Night celebrations, some of which can be streamed online to a global audience, is just one way we’ve expanded and grown from previous years.”

“We are, of course, continually thinking of our friends and colleagues around the country who are fighting through COVID-19 restrictions. We hope in the weeks to come that situations improve so that we can welcome tourists and industry friends alike back to our festival with open arms in the beautiful South West region.”

WA Tourism Minister, David Templeman, said audiences are in for a treat this year with a fantastic line up of Australian and Western Australian films.

“The McGowan Government is proud to support this wonderful event, which is part of our commitment to the screen industry in Western Australia,” he said. “More than 2,000 visitors are expected to join in the excitement when this festival kicks off in the South West from August 25 – 29.”

2021 sees the return of the CinefestOZ Film Prize, of which four films compete to take the award title. The CinefestOZ Jury, led by innovative filmmaker Nadia Tass as Chair, will award the Prize to an Australian feature film or feature-length documentary showcasing excellence in the craft of filmmaking. Here Out West, Nitram MIFF@CinefestOZ, River and The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson are this year’s Film Prize finalists.

All of this year’s Film Prize screenings can be paired with their unique In Conversation dining experiences. Each event will showcase the best food and wine the South West region has to offer whilst entertaining audiences with enlightening film discussions.

These popular events are set to sell fast, so be quick in securing your In Conversation tickets for Here Out West, MIFF@CinefestOZ film Nitram, River and The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson online.

In addition, CinefestOZ is excited to announce the full program of premieres lighting up cinema screens throughout the festival.

Girl Like You, an emotive and powerful documentary from WA producer Cody Greenwood, celebrates its World Premiere at CinefestOZ. Directed by Frances Elliott and Samantha Marlow, the film follows the six-year journey of Lauren and Lewis, as they navigate Lewis’ medical transition to change genders, moving pronouns from He to She, and becoming Elle. The premiere will host a red carpet arrival and insightful filmmaker Q&A after the screening.

Star Dreaming, a stunning creation from WA writer, director Perun Bonser alongside Prospero Productions, will host its World Premiere and screen every day throughout the festival. A magical odyssey through time and space, two children explore the mysteries of the Universe from the world’s oldest living culture and its largest radio telescope. This is an incredible immersive experience not to be missed.

Akoni, directed, written and produced by Australian filmmaker Genna Chanelle Hayes, explores the social and cultural struggles of a Nigrian refugee in Australia. This highly anticipated drama will celebrate its World Premiere as the Opening Night film in Augusta.

Big Deal celebrates its World Premiere at CinefestOZ. Written by and starring comedian Christiaan Van Vuuren, with direction by Craig Reucassel, this documentary serves as a wake-up call on the frightening extent to which money has infiltrated politics.

Iggy & Ace, an Australian premiere at CinefestOZ Film Festival, explores friendship, addiction and recovery through the eyes of two queer friends. This WA webseries from director, writer AB Morrison, director Monica Zanetti and Perth producer Hannah Ngo combines dark and witty characters with diverse and complex storytelling.

This year’s Australian dramas in Official Selection showcase some of the best filmmaking and acting performances the country has to offer. Little Tornadoes and Lone Wolf, both MIFF@CinefestOZ films, and Streamline are powerful and emotive cinematic stories the festival is proud to showcase.

The stunning surf documentary Facing Monsters will screen Opening Night at Margaret River HEART as a World Premiere. In addition, the film will have an In Conversation lunch event with filmmakers and talent sharing their experiences of capturing enigmatic free surfer Kerby Brown in action.

Audiences with a fascination for music documentaries are spoilt for choice this year, with Anonymous Club and Love In Bright Landscapes, both MIFF@CinefestOZ documentaries, I’m Wanita and the WA produced Under the Volcano screening at the festival.

Under the Volcano charts the incredible rise and fall of AIR Studios Montserrat, the recording studio at the centre of the pop universe in the 1980s, and features interviews from some of the most influential recording artists at the time.

In addition, incredible documentaries Araatika: Rise Up!, Blind Ambition, Hating Peter Tatchell and Uluru & The Magician, both MIFF@CinefstOZ films, Firestarter – The Story of Bangarra, Jaimen Hudson: From Sky to Sea, Oleg: The Oleg Vidov Story and Off Country, also a MIFF@CinefstOZ film, will screen across several South West cinemas and venues.

Off Country follows the lives of seven Indigenous students as they leave home to spend a year boarding at Geelong Grammar School in Victoria. The documentary combines their personal observational storytelling and interviews to canvas a broad range of issues, directed by John Harvey and Rhian Skirvin.

Oleg: The Oleg Vidov Story, a documentary directed by this year’s Jury Chair Nadia Tass, explores the fascinating story of one of the Soviet Union’s most celebrated actors, Oleg Vidov, who was blacklisted, threatened with death, and forced to defect to the West.

Walk the red carpet for the World Premiere of The Fort, from producer Shaynna Blaze. Directed by Carly Anne Kenneally and Jess Kenneally (the latter penning the screenplay), the film explores one woman’s struggle with family violence, as she tries to shelter her son from the harsh reality of their lives.

Front and centre for Bunbury’s Opening Night event at Grand Cinemas is the endearing romantic comedy Love You Like That, written and directed by Eric C. Nash, having its World Premiere at CinefestOZ. In Rhapsody of Love, another heartwarming comedy, romance, work and life all collide when a wedding planner and wedding photographer meet and sparks ignite – a production written, produced and directed by Joy Hopwood. Comedy audiences can also enjoy the French film The Kids Are Back during the festival.

The World Premiere of Ruby’s Choice at Margaret River’s HEART is a chance for audiences to experience an affecting and heartwarming story during the festival. Poppy, a New Zealand production, is another touching story audiences can get behind, featuring a rebellious young woman with Down Syndrome who has big ambitions for her future.

Homespun had its crowd-pleasing World Premiere at CinefestOZ Albany earlier this year and will screen again, now for South West audiences. Actor and writer Bec Bignell spearheaded this local production that shines a spotlight on the authentic lives and relationships in rural communities. Don’t miss the In Conversation lunch, hosted on the waterfront in Bunbury.

CinefestOZ proudly hosts the return of Cinesnaps, showcasing the short films of middle school and high school students from the South West and Great Southern Region. Eight films will screen as finalists at the Red Carpet Grand Finale Event on August 26, in anticipation of one being awarded the 2021 Prize.

Young families are also encouraged to get involved with this year’s festival program with Dive Club and Maya The Bee The Golden Orb screening at Orana Cinemas, Busselton. The wildly popular Community Screenings also returns, with a program based on ‘Expecting the Unexpected’ these free screenings will showcase features and short films that reflect unexpected successes, events, and stories.

In addition to the feature-length and documentary film program, CinefestOZ is presenting it’s Short Film Awards for the second consecutive year:

The popular Deadly Indigenous Short Film Set returns for another year, shining a spotlight on the creativity and power of Indigenous filmmaking in Australian culture. Filmmakers of the Future Short Film Set is a chance to see WA’s greatest creatives share their latest projects, signalling an exciting future for Australian cinema. Don’t miss the Party Mix Short Film Set – a fantastic mix of Australian and French films showcasing genres and stories through exceptional filmmaking – as well as the Rocky Road Short Film Set, a chance to reflect on heartwarming stories of struggle and overcoming adversity.

Audiences can also get involved with the red carpet glitz and glamour by attending the Gala Night celebration on Saturday 29 August. You’ll be treated to a showcase of short films before the award for this year’s Screen Legend is announced, alongside the winner of the highly coveted CinefestOZ Film Prize.

Complementing the incredible range of exclusive screenings and special events is CinefestOZ’s Industry Program, which showcases three days of inspiring talks, unique workshops and fantastic networking opportunities.

The full film program for this year’s CinefestOZ has now launched with an exciting array of new and established filmmakers premiering their work. Download the official CinefestOZ app to search session times, book tickets and build your calendar of events during the festival.

CinefestOZ would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we live and work on, and pay our respect to the Elders past, present and future.

CinefestOZ thanks Presenting Partner Tourism WA, Premium Partners Screenwestand City of Busselton and Community Partner Rio Tinto. The festival acknowledges its strong support from Lotterywest and Screen Australia.