Hollywood in the Outback

Ashley Burgess, Mark Melrose, Greg Dolgopolov, Pete Lewis at the Outback Film Festival.

THE Outback Film Festival returned to Winton this month, for a star-studded lineup of Australian film buffs and professionals.

The festival kicked off last Friday, and the last performance show was on Saturday, July 3.

Across the nine-day program, festival-goers were able to immerse in the unique outback experience, with screenings under the stars in Winton’s 103-year-old Royal Open Cinema, masterclasses, workshops, and live entertainment.

Festival Director Mark Melrose said the festival showcases close to forty great Australian films in the program.

“This is currently our 8th annual festival we started off in 2014, we are the only outback festival in the country and the only festival in the world dedicated to Australian film.

“Everything we show is highlighting the artists’’ works of Australian filmmakers, actors, directors, producers, editors, sound technicians, whatever they are we showcase them.

“The show is a range of different things, and we try to factor in things for everybody and we’ve got some people to meet and to get close and personal and talk about their movies that are in the program,” said Mr Melrose.

A series of short films were judged as part of the Short Film competition.

“It’’s a combination of both people who have put in their submissions (from which we select) from our education pathways with Griffith Film School,” said Mr Melrose.

“There are 60-64 students are in town working in groups; six or seven films from them will be presented and shown this Saturday evening.

“One of the highlights that I think everyone should get along to is tonight we are showing a music documentary about Wanita who is a self-crowned Queen of HonkyTonk.

“The film ‘I am Wanita’ will play and then Wanita will do a live performance afterward, it will be quite a unique experience and we are all really excited and looking forward to having her.

“We do have quite a few special guests in attendance, including Wolf Creek actor and producer John Jarratt who will discuss how the outback festival supports Australia’s budding film industry, as well as ‘This Little Love of Mine’ Actress, Saskia Hampele.”

Attendees are welcome to talk with the special guests and ask them questions about the film industry, what they have going on in their lives and what is next, anything to do with them and their industry.

The festival is centred around the theme ‘Remember’, where the program evokes feelings of nostalgia and captures Australia’s affinity for days gone by.

With respect to the Koa people, Traditional Custodians of the land, the festival will also recognise the

Year of Indigenous Tourism with First Nations peoples’ Dreamtime Stories, the latest feature films featuring Indigenous stories, and film tours with Indigenous tour guides.

Mr Melrose said the festival’s growing reputation in the film festival circuit attracts Australians near and far, while also playing a key role in promoting Outback Australia and the arts industry.

“The festival is a unique thing that is going from strength to strength, and we are in an extreme growth phase at the moment.

“We know that through what we are creating with the festival and what we are developing that there will be a lot more production being made in western and regional Queensland,” said Mr Melrose.

For more information visit www.visionsplendidfilmfest.com.