CinefestOZ Film Festival has unveiled its 2019 program, lifting the lid on an epic line-up of Australian features, short films, documentaries, industry workshops and more than 150 related events.
Now in its 12th year, CinefestOZ has cemented its reputation as Australia's premier destination film festival and from August 28 to September 1 will once again offer audiences the chance to explore a diverse program at some of the finest venues and spaces across the stunning South West region.
This year's festival continues CinefestOZ's proud tradition of showcasing the best of Australian film, boasting more than 150 film screening events, including 15 world, 11 Australian and 53 WA premieres - a 10 per cent increase on the 2018 festival.
CinefestOZ chief executive officer Malinda Nixon said the quality and diversity of the 2019 program underlined the enormous growth the festival had experienced in its 12 years and promised audiences another memorable five days in the South West.
"Anyone who picks up a program for this year's CinefestOZ is going to be blown away by what's on offer," she said.
"We have an absolutely incredible selection of features, short films, documentaries, industry workshops and special events and audiences really will be spoilt for choice.
"We are so proud that each year, CinefestOZ continues to grow and provide not only a platform for audiences to experience premiere film screenings but for WA and Australian filmmakers to come together to champion the industry.
"This is another outstanding year for homegrown cinema and we can't wait for audiences to enjoy our fabulous celebration of Australian film in the beautiful South West next month."
Leading the program will be the Film Prize finalists GO! MIFF@CinefestOZ film H is for Happiness, Hearts and Bones, Judy & Punch and MIFF@CinefestOZ drama Measure for Measure competing for the coveted CinefestOZ $100,000 Film Prize.
Filmmakers and attending talent from all Film Prize finalist films will walk the red carpet at Orana Cinemas ahead of each premiere and the following day will attend special In Conversation events, which allow audiences a deeper insight into the filmmaking teams' creative process.
Award-winning Australian director Rachel Ward has accepted the role of Film Prize Jury Chair for the 2019 Festival.
She will take part in the Film Prize Jury In Conversation, a popular festival experience where the esteemed Jury members talk about their filmic lives and experiences over lunch, and also introduce a special screening of her film Palm Beach, starring Bryan Brown, Greta Scacchi, Sam Neill and Richard. E. Grant.
Joining Ward and her husband Brown as guests of the festival will be some of the nation's most well-known and loved film and television personalities including WA actress Sophia Forrest, Marta Dusseldorp, Kelton Pell, Emma Booth, Megan Hajjar Smart, Angus McLaren, Myles Pollard, Roz Hammond, Alex Williams, Daisy Axon, Eddie Baroo, Zara Zoe, Travis Jeffery, William Lodder, Anastasia Bampos, Darius Amarfio-Jefferson and Cooper Van Grootel.
Set against the backdrop of WA's iconic South West region, the CinefestOZ 2019 program is for film lovers, filmmakers and stars who are drawn to Busselton, Bunbury and Margaret River to share in five days of immersive film experiences at the region's cinemas, wineries, boutique breweries, small bars and galleries.
Festival events combine the excitement of a premiere screening with beautiful South West food and wine and are an opportunity for audiences to experience highly anticipated films not yet seen in Western Australia.
In addition to the stellar line up of features vying for the Film Prize, 2019 program highlights include world premieres of a diverse range of films and documentaries.
Locally shot film The Naked Wanderer is about a broken-hearted man who treks the WA coastline mostly naked for charity in a bid to win back his ex-girlfriend.
The West Australian feature documentary, Whale Super Highway, in Australia's first mobile 180-degree Dome cinema and Wild Butterfly, a heartbreaking and gripping real-life drama and the very twisted horror anthology Dark Whispers Vol 1.
Other festival highlights include the WA premiere of Standing Up for Sunny, which tells the story of an isolated guy with cerebral palsy who is railroaded into helping an unassertive comedienne and finds love and acceptance through stand-up comedy and Ride Like a Girl, the directorial debut from actor Rachel Griffiths which tells the incredible true story of Michelle Payne, the first female jockey to win the Melbourne Cup.
The screening will be followed by a Q&A with special guests Sophia Forrest and Zara Zoe, who star in the film.
CinefestOZ's French flair for films continues with a selection of features and shorts from this filmmaking powerhouse including Non-Fiction (Doubles Vies), A Faithful Man (L'Homme fidele) and Family Photo (Photo de Famille), along with a selection of French short films.
This year CinefestOZ is also introducing a small segment of New Zealand feature films, including Bellbird, about a dairy farmer who, over four seasons, struggles to cope with the sudden death of his beloved wife, and builds a bond with his only son; Daffodils, director David Stubbs' bittersweet love story told with beautiful re-imaginings of iconic New Zealand songs; and Vai, a film about female empowerment that spans the breadth of the Pacific telling the story of one woman's life in eight separate moments.
The WA premiere of Vai will be followed by a Q&A with filmmakers Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton.
Vai is also one of a number of films included in the IndigifestOZ program which provides a platform for showcasing the unique and important voices of Indigenous filmmakers as well as showcasing films with Indigenous themes.
IndigifestOZ aims to inspire young Aboriginal students to take a further look into the many and varied areas of telling stories through film while highlighting the assortment of career paths within the film industry.
Complementing the incredible range of entertaining screenings and special events for audiences is CinefestOZ's Industry Program, which will present local, national and international guests for three days of inspiring talks, exciting discussions, intense debates and fantastic networking opportunities.
Over the years, as a direct result of the program and festival networking opportunities, seven films have been made in the South West region and at least another seven are currently in development or pre-production.
The 2019 Industry Program has been curated to discuss the rapid changes in the screen industry and how to stay ahead of the game and this year will be spearheaded by industry heavyweight Glenn Gainor, head of Physical Production for Screen Gems and president of Innovation Studios for Sony Entertainment and Technology.
Among his credits are The Wedding Ringer, The Perfect Guy and No Good Deed. He is also a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, British Academy of Film and Television Arts and Directors Guild of America, among others.
Gainor will deliver a keynote speech on Embracing Technology as an Empowerment Tool, and also present the world premiere of Taste, the film fronting the global launch of Sony's new Xperia smartphone technology, Cinema Pro, "powered by CineAlta" which offers cinema-quality images from a pocket-sized camera.
Taste is the story of a chef who uses advanced technology to source the sub-molecular essence of the food we eat without harming the environment.
In 2019, CinefestOZ is also pleased to be partnering with WA Museum to present extraordinary encounters - from the white vastness of Antarctica to the remote resting place of World War Two shipwrecks in the deep sea - in VR and 3D. Museum@CinefestOZ are free community events at the Festival Hub.
However, while CinefestOZ's hub may be Busselton its heart beats strong in other areas of the South West region with screenings and events taking place in a variety of wineries, craft breweries, theatres, libraries, galleries and other spaces in Augusta, Bunbury, Dunsborough and Margaret River.
The festival will once again offer a variety of community events and screenings, including the IndigifestOZ Day, Cinesnaps Grand Finale and free community screenings, which will involve the filmmakers in post-screening audience discussions.
Short films also provide a sweet opportunity to indulge in both cinematic and culinary pleasures with events being held in the beautiful surrounds of the region's most popular wineries, craft breweries, galleries or restaurants.
CinefestOZ is supported by the State Government through Tourism WA's Regional Events Program. Rio Tinto is a proud Premium Partner of CinefestOZ. The festival acknowledges its strong partnership with Screenwest, Western Australia's screen funding and development agency.
Gala Night - Screen Legend and CinefestOZ Film Prize announcement - Saturday, August 31
Gala Night offers the glamour, drama and spectacle befitting this award-winning festival's premium evening event. Finalist filmmakers attend, along with all VIP guests and audiences to witness the awarding of the highly coveted $100,000 CinefestOZ Film Prize in competition at the festival.
Film Prize premiere screenings and In Conversation events
Each of the five film finalists will have their premiere screenings throughout the Festival, allowing audiences to sit in with the esteemed Film Prize Jury, and an In Conversation event, where audiences can delve deep into the minds of Australia's best filmmakers and acting talent.
Question and answer screenings - CinefestOZ continues its proud tradition of showcasing the best Australian feature and short films, followed by an interactive filmmaker conversation.
Cinesnaps Grand Finale on Thursday, August 29
A youth-friendly, cinema-style seated red carpet event showcasing the best entries in the Cinesnaps Short Film Competition - an annual project encouraging young, aspiring South West filmmakers to create original short films. Winners are announced by a Jury Panel led by actor and director Myles Pollard.
IndigifestOZ Day on Friday, August 30
The Festival Hub transforms on Friday to celebrate IndigifestOZ Day where people of all ages can watch Aboriginal films and meet their filmmakers and Retrospective film guest. There will also be Indigenous stalls with products to purchase.
CinefestOZ Directors Lunch on Friday, August 30
Join Australian film legend Bryan Brown for lunch at this premium event. Expect famous faces and a few revelations when film VIPs and festival guests gather to share stories and great times.
CinefestOZ Film Prize Jury In Conversation Lunch on Saturday, August 31
Meet the Film Prize Jury, led by Chair Rachel Ward, who adjudicate the CinefestOZ $100,000 Film Prize.
This special festival experience allows access to this high-profile group of film professionals as they talk about their filmic lives and experiences over lunch.
The relaxed gallery setting at Yallingup's Studio Bistro is this year's location for this highly popular lunch.
CinefestOZ runs from August 28 to September 1.
The full festival program and tickets will be available online 26 July. For more information visit cinefestoz.com