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The West Australian premiere of Marion Hansel’s Tenderness (La Tendresse) will be the French Selection to open the CinèfestOZ Film Festival (August 21 – 25) at Orana Cinemas, Busselton, and the crowd pleasing, Laos-set The Rocket from Kim Mordaunt will be the Australian opener, screening concurrently.

“Directed by accomplished Belgian born director Marion Hansel Tenderness is destined to delight the CinèfestOZ audience, and we are thrilled to be able to have this as part of our French Programme,” says festival director Malinda Nixon. The film stars Marilyne Canto, Olivier Gourmet, Margaux Chatellier, and tells a simple story about a long divorced couple who get together for a road trip to visit their ski instructor son in hospital after an accident. Said to be awkward and touching in turns, full of quiet truths, the film has been acclaimed as a little gem.

Kim Mordaunt will be on the red carpet on opening night for The Rocket, prior to its national release on August 29 and the organisers are making the most of his presence with a community screening of his acclaimed 2005 documentary, Bomb Harvest, revealing the work of Aussie bomb disposal expert Laith Stevens in Laos.

The Rocket

Mordaunt’s new film – a comedy/drama - is also set in Laos, and had its origins in his observations while making Bomb Harvest. Ten year old Laotian boy, Ahlo (Sitthiphon Disamoe) is believed to bring bad luck and is blamed for a string of disasters. When his family loses their home and is forced to move, Ahlo meets the spirited nine year old orphan Kia (Loungnam Kaosainam) and her eccentric uncle Purple (Thep Phongam), an ex-soldier with a purple suit, a rice-wine habit and a fetish for James Brown. Struggling to hang on to his father’s (Sumrit Warin) trust, Ahlo leads his family, Purple and Kia through a land scarred by war in search of a new home. In a last plea to try and prove he’s not cursed, Ahlo builds a giant explosive rocket to enter the most lucrative but dangerous competition of the year: the Rocket Festival.

"a celebration of engaging film, filmmaker forums, premiere and gala events"

As part of the festival on August 22, the Bunbury Regional Entertainment Centre will host the WA premiere of Ivan Sen’s outback Western, Mystery Road, which opened the Sydney Film Festival.

The story has classic elements: Indigenous detective Jay Swan (Aaron Pedersen) returns to his small Queensland country town and his first case is the murder of a teenage girl. Having spent a considerable amount of time in the big city, Jay finds himself alienated from both the police, including the Sergeant (Tony Barry) and drug squad’s Johnno (Hugo Weaving) and his community, including his own daughter, Crystal (Tricia Whitton) who lives with her mother Mary (Tasma Walton). Though thwarted in his investigations by a lack of cooperation from the locals, and a lack of interest from his fellow cops, Jay gradually unravels a complex crime web, involving wild dogs, truckies, prostitution, roo hunting, alcoholism and drug trafficking.

CinéfestOZ is unique in Australia as a festival dedicated to just French & Australian films, celebrating the south-west’s early French exploration through France’s strong film making culture. It is fitting that the region is also one of Australia’s prime wine producing areas – another product for which the French are famed.

Appropriately enough, the festival program includes two food and drink films: Haute Cuisine, the dramatised story of Provincial cook and truffle specialist Hortense Laborie (Christine Frot) is summoned to the Elysee Palace of President François Mitterand (Jean d’Ormesson) to take charge of his private kitchen – to ensure he got home cooking.

Red Obsession is an Australian documentary narrated by Russell Crowe, about the change that is coming to Bordeaux, with traditional customers like the US and the UK falling away, as China's new rich push prices to stratospheric levels. The demand is unprecedented, but the product is finite and this new client wants it all. Against this tasty cultural backdrop, Busselton comes alive for a celebration of film, filmmaker forums, premieres and gala events. Festival Petron David Wneham will be welcoming quite a few high profile guests, including Jack Thompson, Rachel Ward, Damien Walsh-Howling (promoting Mystery Road), Dead Daly Jones (promoting The Turning), Roy Billings and director Gillian Armstrong.

This year the free community screenings will also include Desert War, exploring one of the most celebrated campaigns of the Second World War, centered on the siege of Tobruk and the battle for El Alamein. The second documentary is Show Me The Magic, celebrating the life and work of legendary Australian cinematographer Don McAlpine, whose diverse credits range from My Brilliant Career to X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Mrs Doubtfire and Romeo + Juliet.

The hosts of CinéfestOZ, which collectively include the WA Government’s screen agency and tourism arms, also offered guests several opportunities to taste the scenery and tour the wines …

Forester Estate has recently built an attractive mock French renaissance facade onto its winery, an irony since it doesn't host cellar door sales and the public doesn't get to enjoy it. (Unless you’re a visiting journalist or wine buyer, of course…)

Voyager Estate has also refurbished recently, creating a sophisticated and lavish environment for wine tastings on several levels (matched by rising price structure) and delivering first class food and beverage experiences - it's not just eat, drink, pay, leave....

Headquartered in Busselton, CinéfestOZ extends to Margaret River and Bunbury for additional screenings and its comprehensive Schools Program; over 1,000 primary and secondary students from Bunbury to Augusta will experience the Cine-Snaps Schools Program over the Festival week.

A highlight of Cine-Snaps will be a presentation of Satellite Boy. “Accomplished Producer David Jowsey and the remarkable young indigenous actor Joseph Pedley will introduce Satellite Boy, this impressive example of Australian film,” says Cine-Snaps Education Officer, Caroline Beamond.

Satellite Boy, which also stars David Gulpilil as the grandfather, is a heartfelt story about a young boy’s journey to save his home and ultimately himself. “Shot in the remote Aboriginal communities in the wilderness of the far north of Western Australia, Geoffrey Simpson’s cinematography beautifully captures the country’s voice,” says Louise Keller in urbancinefile.com.au

The French program this year also includes celebrated master Olivier Assayas’ After May, a loosely autobiographical and incisive drama about a young French artist caught up in a whirlwind of politics, art and sex in the wake of the electrifying events of May 1968. The film stars Lola Créton, Clément Métayer, Félix Armand, Carole Combes, Hugo Conzelmann.

Winner of the Silver Bear at the 2012 Berlin Film Festival, and Switzerland’s official submission for the 2013 Academy Awards, writer/director Ursula Meier’s Sister is a deeply affecting humanist drama of two siblings struggling to find a place in the world, and their determination to maintain self-sufficiency, no matter the cost. The intriguing cast is led by Lea Seydoux, Kacey Mottett Klein, Gillian Anderson, Martin Compston.

Published August 1, 2013

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Mystery Road

The Rocket

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