Hooked Takes On CinefestOZ 2016

Chantal Victor

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!

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