Festival History

CinefestOZ is a unique festival experience, Australia’s best new films are screened as they compete for the richest film prize in Australia. As a homegrown event, CinefestOZ has defied the odds, matured and prospered to become one of the great film festivals of Australia. It is also noteworthy that the success of CinefestOZ has also been paralleled with the growth of the Western Australian film industry, with many of these local films presented in our programs over the years.

CinefestOZ was established in 2008 by David Barton and Helen Shervington, as a cultural celebration of the French bicentenary of Antipodean exploration of the South West corner of Western Australia, and the many French place names in use today. A not-for-profit CinefestOZ Board came together with a strong and enthusiastic purpose to start the Festival. That year, CinefestOZ’s first opening night film was the highly acclaimed international award winner Black Balloon. In 2010, the CinefestOZ Screen Legend award was introduced, accepted by Steve Bisley. Since then, many outstanding Australian filmmakers and talent have been presented with this award, including David Wenham, Bryan Brown, Gillian Armstrong and Sigrid Thornton to name a brief few.

The Cinesnaps schools program began an impressive run with it’s first program in 2011. This program is now the largest schools program to be held at a film festival in Australia, offering films, workshops and film and culture discussions to South West students.

The $100,000 CinefestOZ Film Prize was introduced at the 2014 CinefestOZ Film Festival, the largest Film Prize in Australia. The inaugural prize went to Robert Connolly’s charming film Paper Planes. The prize has been awarded to four further films since then; Putuparri and the Rainmakers, Girl Asleep, Ali’s Wedding and Jirga.

IndigifestOZ held it’s first Cultural Day at the 2015 Festival. IndigifestOZ has attracted the best Indigenous filmmakers from across the nation to present their films to the CinefestOZ audience, drawing focus to the best Indigenous feature films, documentaries and short films.

In 2021, CinefestOZ travelled to Albany for the first CinefestOZ Albany, bring the magic of cinema to the Great Southern Region. 2022 saw the inaugural CinefestOZ Broome, WA’s first First Nations Film Festival, presented in partnership with Goolarri Media Enterprises.