Dust off your lounge suit, brush up on your local film knowledge, and book a cultural weekend away to Merimbula this August.
The Third Annual Far South Film Festival is heading to the coast where you can rub shoulders with local impresarios, actors, directors, producers, singers and film buffs, and bask in the light from the silver screen.
Born in 2020 during COVID-19, the festival can finally present its exciting industry and fan-laden weekend of screenings, Q&A panels, parties, an awards ceremony, in-person networking and unique dining experiences.
Hosted by The Picture Show Man cinema, the re-vamped country-style Twyford Hall and various local restaurants, the regional film festival’s third iteration will bring the seaside town alive from 19-21 August.
Festival director Lis Shelley says the festival committee is extremely pleased 2022 means an in-person event.
“We can’t wait to roll out the red carpet at last,” she says. “Watching a film on a big screen makes such a difference to the enjoyment of it and the work of the cinematographer and sound crew in particular.
“It also means filmgoers can meet the filmmakers, and filmmakers can feel the reaction in the room to their work.”
The festival pivoted to a 100 per cent online model in 2020. Then in 2021, lockdown was announced one week out from the event’s in-person debut.
Despite the disappointment, the team was well prepared for an online alternative and the festival didn’t miss a beat.
Exclusively for regional Australian filmmakers, where at least two of the key creatives – writer/director/producer – must reside in a regional area, the 2022 festival has attracted entries from around Australia, including young, regional and First Nations filmmakers.
Organisers have received about 24 entries for the open and youth categories, including many from the South Coast and Canberra regions.
Last year’s Canberra entries included the Funhouse Studio Diversity’s award-winning `The Girl on the Moon’ which utilised the ACT’s new 24-metre LED sound stage/studio in Watson.
Lis says the “quality has stepped up yet again, as it does each year”.
Many films from previous festivals have gone on to win awards, including popular animated film ‘The Quiet’ by WA’s Radheya Jagatheya which won the 2020 Best Youth Film award. You can view The Quiet here.
A Friday night launch party at Merimbula’s Twyford Hall will open the long-awaited in-person festival with live music, dancing, silent film backdrops, sensational food and a bar.
The Picture Show Man cinema will host daytime screenings of several festival categories on the Saturday. It will also introduce the first live Q&A panel with special guest Australian producer, director and actor Rosie Lourde.
“We’re also planning a unique festival-goers’ dinner on Saturday night in a kind of ‘blind-date’ scenario,” Lis says. “We’ve booked tables at various local restaurants and invite people to sign up for dinner with other random festival fans – no doubt there’ll be lots of post-film analysis and new friendships made!”
The festival heads back to the Twyford Hall on Sunday when another clutch of shortlisted films will be screened. Then the highly anticipated festival awards will take over the afternoon.
The festival will also present an online program to audiences throughout Australia as video-on-demand from midnight Friday, 19 August to 31 August.
“One of the plus sides of an online festival is that it provides a platform for those great regional stories to be told to an Australia-wide audience – stories that might otherwise not be seen outside their own region,” Lis says.
“The online audience is one good thing from Covid.
“We will be asking all audiences to vote for their favourite two films for the People’s Choice Award, so everyone can give their opinion. This will be announced on our social media and website on 1 September.”
You can pre-purchase individual festival films or bundles of films and watch them as video-on-demand from your own home.