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Australian writer, director and Producer Frank Howson has announced the inaugural OZ International Film Festival to be held at The Alex Theatre in Melbourne from November 23 to December 1.
In its premiere year the festival will have a week-long showcase of feature length and short films from young and not so young local and international film makers, the films chosen will tackle indigenous subjects, women’s issues, gay rights, and other thought-provoking subjects not catered for in many mainstream film festivals.
Announcing the festival, Frank Howson, Festival Director said, “I have always believed in helping the next generation of filmmakers and spend a great deal of my time fiving free advised to those who approach me. I also believe in giving back to the industry when you have some good fortune and the phenomenal success of my musical “Dream Lover” has enabled me to put my money where my mouth is and come up with this new and exciting film festival that celebrates diversity and bold and brave voices from local and international filmmakers.” He added, “The Oz international Film Festival is a festival for all the right reasons and competes with no other as we are shining a light on categories that most other festivals don’t i.e., indigenous works, student films, gay rights, women’s issues, political films showing both sides of relevant issues. We take no sides politically and out only criteria in selecting a movie is whether it is well made. We are a festival that celebrates diversity of all kinds and respects free speech.”
Opening night will feature a live performance by Jonathon Welch AM, best known as the Founding Music Director of the inspirational Choir of Hard Knocks and his new celebrated THECHOIR, Melbourne’s most exciting non-professional adult choirs. group of singers. They will open the night of the screenings with a newly commissioned work, composed by internationally renowned pianist and composer Warren Wills, “Hymn to St Kilda” celebrating the much-loved suburb as the place where the first Australian film, and one of the first in the world was shot. It is also fitting the festival is at the beautiful new Alex Theatre in the heart of Fitzroy Street, St. Kilda.
The opening night feature film will be Travis Bains “Landfall” starring indy actress Kristen Condon in her nominated performance, industry veteran Tony Bonner and Mad Max’s Vernon Welles.
Other films secured and certainly one of the highlights of the festival will be the Australian premiere of the U.S. Documentary “Bill Evans – Time Remembered” about the innovative jazz great featuring interviews with Tony Bennett and a cavalcade of jazz greats.
The Premier screening of Jonathon’s Welch’s emotional documentary “Choir Man in Africa” showing the story of Jonathon and his Australian choir traveling to Uganda to perform a concert to celebrate the anniversary of their independence. In this highly charged doco we see the emotional impact it has on the Australians as they witness the poverty and brave spirits of the local Ugandans, and the profound impact it has on them.
Also, screening will be a Jewish documentary “Operation Wedding” that tells of the brave failed attempt by a group of Jews to escape Russia at the height of the Cold War, the controversial documentary LEAF about the benefits of medical marijuana.
And A FILMMAKERS JOURNEY a special only event where Festival Director Frank Howson will take you through his journey detailing his struggle to break into the film industry, warts and all. Make sure you book for this one.
Frank Howson is available for interviews as are Tony Bonner, Jonathon Welch, Kristen Condon, Aleks Vass, Festival Producer Barry Porter Robinson, and Warren Wills.