CinefestOZ Film Festival has unveiled its full program for 2020 with an offering of live and online screenings and special events, curated for unprecedented times.

Tickets are now on sale for Australia’s premier destination film festival, which takes place from 25-30 August in the South West.

View the full Festival program here

Purchase your Festival Cinepass here

Purchase your Short Film Cinepass here

CinefestOZ 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.

For those unable to attend, the festival also presents Grounded, a series of free Australian films available to watch at home for the first time.

CinefestOZ is now in its 13th year, somewhat fitting given the challenges that come with organising a festival during a global pandemic. It will be 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.

CinefestOZ Chair Helen Shervington admitted delivering a festival in 2020 had been an experience like no other. “In six short months, we’ve travelled from no festival, to an online festival, to bringing audiences real screenings and live events,” said Shervington. “Social distancing has meant social isolation for many of us and with that comes a sense of loneliness and loss of connections. Now it’s time to re-emerge, reconnect and celebrate, yes celebrate, because that’s what CinefestOZ is, a joyful celebration of new Australian films and storytelling.”

CinefestOZ kicks off formally on 26 August with a special screening of the highly anticipated West Australian film RAMS at Orana Cinemas, Busselton. 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.

The RAMS opening night event will include an introduction from one of the film’s producers, Aidan O’Bryan, followed by a celebratory after-party and a RAMS In Conversation event the following day.

Bookending the festival will be another 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.

Between opening and closing nights, audiences will have the chance to watch a host of feature films, including 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 features sets which screen from 25 August and culminate in an awards celebration on 29 August at Margaret River HEART. 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, Best Actor and Actress (supported by Annie MM Casting) and an Audience Choice award.

Audiences in Margaret River will also be able to enjoy six days of feature films and 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. Dare Parker will also host an online industry workshop for established and emerging practitioners to gain a better understanding of the role an on-set production stills photographer plays in the commercial success of a film and TV production.

Busselton’s historic Esplanade Hotel will also be a hub during CinefestOZ and play host to this year’s Industry Program, which will feature 10 sessions over two days. 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.

The program will feature national and international speakers and plenty of networking opportunities – be it in person or online – and has been adapted to allow industry representatives from interstate unable to attend the festival due to travel restrictions in place, to join in online from the comfort of their home office.

CinefestOZ CEO Malinda Nixon said: “2020 has been a challenging year for the film industry and continues to be so, particularly for our friends on the east coast and overseas. We do not take for granted the fact that we have been able to forge ahead with our festival this year, albeit in a modified format, and we are delighted to be able to share part of it with industry representatives who can’t be with us in person.”