Australian Film Festival Kicks Off

With the aim of building an audience for local films, the second Australian Film Festival is gearing up to launch a program packed with exciting local content.

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On March 2, the beautiful Randwick Ritz Cinema will become the base for the 2011 Australian Film Festival. A wide and varied selection of films, including many free screenings, has been chosen. There will also be Q&A sessions and the Spot Food and Film festival, featuring live music and international food stalls. The festival will conclude with an induction ceremony for the Australian Film Walk of Fame.

The opening night's film, The Wedding Party, starring Isabel Lucas and Josh Lawson, is an Australian comedy about relationships and family. The Thursday night offering of the Cannes-winning Leap Year may be a stirring film set in Mexico, but comes from Australian writer/director Michael Rowe.

Popular Australian actor Ryan Kwanten (True Blood, Red Hill) will don a superhero costume for the magical romantic comedy, Griff The Invisible (pictured); The Reef's home-grown cast of young actors will be hunted by a deadly shark; Not Quite Hollywood director Mark Hartley has moved on from his investigation of the Ozploitation genre to cult Filipino cinema with Machete Maidens Unleashed. These are only a few of the highlights from the scheduled list of films.

There will also be a free showing of Pixar's classic film Finding Nemo at the Clovelly Beach Cinema by the Sea on the evening of March 5, perfect for families hoping to revisit the movie for, no doubt, the umpteenth time. Live music will also play on the night.

Opportunities for budding filmmakers to gain insight into the industry will be provided by the Next Wave Film Centre, with seminars and workshops open for attendees. The Apple Store at Bondi Junction will also be hosting a seminar featuring up-and-coming Australian directors Andrew Traucki, Louise Alston and Gale Edwards. With FILMINK editor Erin Free on moderator duties, this free event promises to be an informative discussion of the often tricky road to making a feature.  

If that is not enough, future screenwriters will have a chance to win $10,000 from the FutureFilm Scriptwriting Competition, which is on offer for the best 15 minute script.

Closing the proceedings on March 13 will be the Walk of Fame which promises such luminaries as Gary Sweet, Sigrid Thornton and Jack Thompson. This will be followed at 7pm by the Short Film Festival.

All told, this is a jam-packed cinematic occasion, with plenty to suit everyone.

For more information and to book tickets to the Australian Film Festival, go here. For more information on the seminar being hosted at the Apple Store, go here.

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