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There are festivals devoted to Australian films in St Tropez, Hong Kong, London and Shanghai – but until this week, none in Australia. On May 31, the inaugural Dungog Film Festival is launched at Dungog, an idyllic rural setting two hours from Sydney; but don’t let the bucolic environment fool you: it’s more boutique than backwater, with innovative elements and some world premieres, reports Andrew L. Urban.

It’s odd, when you think about it, that until filmmaker Allanah Zitserman came up with the idea for an exclusively Australian film festival, we’ve never had one. But it seems the wait was worth it, with Zitserman having corralled a long list of supporters, a good chunk of the film industry (those who are back from Cannes) and an intriguing program of films, a blend of world premieres and classics, the latter in association with the National Film & Sound Archive.

“It's a wonderful opportunity to get filmmakers out of the craziness of the city, into a beautiful rural town, to experience Aussie movies in a non competitive atmosphere at the oldest continuously running cinema in Australia,” says Zitserman. “I'm thrilled by the collective enthusiasm of filmmakers, film-lovers and rural communities for this event -- I think we've really tapped into something unique here. The support for this festival has been above and beyond anything I could have imagined. I hope that putting the focus on Australian films will, in our little way, contribute to a greater appreciation of local talent.”

The festival opens on Thursday night, hosted by Hugo Weaving, with The Picture Show Man (1977) and two shorts, Dugong (by Erin White) and the world premiere of Skin (by Claire McCarthy).

New Australian films Like Burke & Wills (2006) and the premiere of dance drama, Thursday’s Fiction will follow. The world premieres include On the Edge of Eden, directed by Damian S. Simankowicz, and Almost, directed by Chris Burnham, with several invitation only screenings – these are premieres of films that are not publicised.

There is also a four part ‘scream’ program presented by Nell Schofield, a masterclass by Bruce Beresford, and a work in progress screening from director Michael Joy, 5 programs of shorts, a seminar on the new film funding details announced in the 2007 budget, plus four Spotlight on the Director sessions.

Classic Australian films to screen include the 1983 comedy, Buddies (dir. Arch Nicholson), Breaker Morant (1980, dir. Bruce Beresford) and Kid Stakes (1927, dir. Tal Ordell).


Mambo, one of Australia’s iconic fashion labels has designed the official T-Shirt for the 2007 film festival. This quirky work of art can now be seen on the festival website.

Published May 30, 2007

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Festival founder Allanah Zitserman


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Urban Cinefile is proud to be the Exclusive Online Media Partner for the inaugural Dungog Film Festival, May 31 – June 3, 2007.

Festival trailer

Countrylink, a major sponsor of the Festival, is supplying the 11.35am train on May 31 from Sydney Central to Dungog for sponsors, filmmakers and special guests; guests will be entertained by live music & complimentary food and wine will be served.

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