Despite the seeming hundreds of film festivals that pass through Melbourne each year on an annual rotation, the film industry – and creative industry at large – has a diversity problem. Aussie writer, director and producer Frank Howson saw this parity of opportunities in a stark light, and decided to create his own festival dedicated to bringing diverse talent to the forefront of Australian cinema.
“The Oz International Film Festival is a festival for all the right reasons,” says Howson. “[We] are shining a light on categories that most other festivals don’t, such as indigenous works, student films, gay rights, women’s issues, political films…
“We are a festival that celebrates diversity of all kinds and respects free speech.”
There are documentaries on show, such as the Australian premier of Bill Evans – Time Remembered, celebrating the jazz great and featuring numerous other jazz masters, such as Tony Bennett. There’s also Jonathon Welch’s documentary, Choir Man in Africa, which shows a travelling choir travel to perform for Uganda’s anniversary of independence.
If features are more your style, head to the opening night to see Travis Bain’s Landfall that features performances from Kristen Condon, Tony Bonner and Vernon Wells. Bain’s full-length film takes place in a disaster zone, and incorporates crime thriller themes to create an ultimately suspenseful experience.
Numerous other films are to be shown as part of the festival, and each will be shown at St Kilda’s Alex Theatre during the program, which runs from Friday 23 November to Saturday 1 December.