Sit back and imagine the best party you’ve ever been to, mixed with your favourite film of the year. Add in some beautiful landscapes and a road trip, and there you have it… CinefestOZ 2016! I don’t think I’ve had this much fun while being so busy in such a long time! I know CinefestOZ is that one festival that gets talked about every year, but I never seem to make my way down south to attend because I always have enough excuses not to go. Well, this year I made it my goal to go, and believe me, if there is one event all film lovers should attend its Cinefest!
The festival runs from a Wednesday to Sunday with the Gala evening on the Saturday night where the winning film of the $100 000 prize is announced. This year’s winning film is Girl Asleep, which is certainly a weird film, but once I got to sit in conversation with the creators, everything started to make sense. The festival also delights itself in premiering ground breaking films, and this year I was lucky enough to get a seat to the world premiere of Pulse, an independent Australian feature film about a gay disabled teenage boy who changes into the body of a beautiful woman so that he can be loved.
Even though it rained throughout the weekend, there wasn’t a time when people weren’t either lining up to make it into a cinema or chatting enthusiastically in the foyer about the most recent film they’d seen. As soon as I thought I’d take a quick break and grab lunch I’d catch myself buying another ticket for the next screening. Popcorn became a staple in my diet. One of those unplanned tickets was for the Sydney Film Festival Finalist documentary Zach’s Ceremony, a beautiful film about a boy learning to transition from boyhood into a man, in both the modern world and his ancient culture. The audience got to see a glimpse of the traditional ceremony Zach had to take part in to become a warrior within his culture in loving honour of his grandfather.
My favourite film at Cinefest was Hotel Coolgardie, a very raw documentary of a remote pub in Coolgardie which receives a rotation of foreign travellers every 3 months who work as bar maids to replenish their travel funds. The documentary follows two Finnish girls and how they cope in the outback. At times, I honestly feared for the girls’ safety throughout the film and I didn’t want to look. It sheltered the audience from nothing and made us feel like we were a part of it.
I only got down on Friday night and missed out on all the industry days where aspiring filmmakers got to chat to industry experts, but I managed to squeeze everything out of the festival right to the very end at a side bar at Caves House with a few short films. The South West is a beautiful backdrop for such an eventful week with amazing food and friends. I cannot wait to drive down next year and see what CinefestOZ 2017 has to offer. See you all next year!