Goran Stolevski’s “Of An Age” won Australia’s richest film prize of A$100,000 ($65,000) at CinefestOz at a closing gala night over the weekend in Busselton, Western Australia.
Stolevski, a Macedonian-born, Melbourne-based writer and director, also presented his acclaimed feature debut “We Are Not Alone” at the festival.
The CinefestOZ film award is dedicated to new films made in Australia and consisted of four finalists. Others also included the Gracie Otto comedy “Seriously Red,” the world premiere of Matt Nable’s intense drama “Transfusion,” starring Sam Worthington, and the audience favorite “Sweet As,” the first feature film by the local indigenous director. Jub Clerk.
“Sweet As” was based on Clerc’s own experiences as a teenager on a photographic road trip through Western Australia’s spectacular Pilbara region. (It has also been selected as one of five Australian projects to screen at the Toronto festival this year.)
The competition jury was chaired by actor Richard Roxburgh (“Moulin Rouge”, “Elvis”), who was also named this year’s CinefestOZ 2021 Screen Legend for his outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry.
Held in the picturesque Margaret River region, the six-day festival showcased a jam-packed program of 270 screenings and events featuring Australian shorts, features and documentaries, as well as a two-day industry program featuring national and international guests. international.
Helpful local volunteers (wearing distinctive red berets as a nod to the region’s French heritage) have earned CinefestOz a reputation for “[Australia’s] friendliest party.” The event is also a flagship for attracting tourism to the area, as the festival’s program structure encourages attendees to visit the region’s rugged surf beaches, native forests, and high-end wineries and dining destinations.
While the festival continued to take place in person annually during covid restrictions, 2022 was the first year since 2019 that the state’s strict border policies were relaxed to allow interstate Australians and international guests to attend.
CinefestOZ has set ambitious goals, already expanding into a subsidiary festival in Albany in the southern region of the state, and will hold its first three-day indigenous film festival in Broome in November.
“We started as a local film festival fifteen years ago and have accomplished a lot,” said Malinda Nixon, CEO of CinefestOZ. Variety. “We are now a premier destination film festival and are the only one focusing on Australian feature films, short films and docos.”