‘Bring Him to Me’, ‘A Savage Christmas’, ‘Jules’ headline CinefestOZ lineup

Sam Neill in 'Bring Him to Me'

The world premieres of Queensland-shot films Bring Him To Me and Savage Christmas, as well as the Australian premiere of Marc Turtletaub’s sci-fi comedy Jules, are among the highlights of this year’s CinefestOZ program, which was launched today ahead of next month’s event.

Taking place from August 29 to September 3 in Western Australia’s south west region, the 16th iteration of the festival will screen films across five themes – Music Lovers, First Nations, Real Stories, and With a Twist.

There will also be the annual short film and industry programs, as well as the Cinesnaps school initiative and free community events, featuring IndigifestOZ.

It follows the announcement of the CinefestOZ Prize finalists last week, with Sean McDonald’s Bromley: Light After Dark, Matt Vesely’s Monolith, Noora Niasari’s Shayda and Mark Leonard Winter’s The Rooster to screen publicly while being paired with an In Conversation dining experience, where the filmmakers will share with guests how they brought their projects to life.

CinefestOZ chair Margaret Buswell said the program offered a broad cross-section of local cinema.

“Unique Australian stories are at the heart of the CinefestOZ Film Festival and we hope you will love this year’s film selections, which celebrate the diversity of our country and its people, and the film events where festivalgoers can meet filmmakers, enjoy fantastic food, wine and music and most importantly have fun and be entertained,” she said.

Filmed across Brisbane, Ipswich, and the Gold Coast at the end of last year, Luke Sparke’s Bring Him to Me follows a getaway driver who must battle his conscience and drive a young and unsuspecting passenger to an uncertain fate at the behest of a ruthless crime boss.

‘A Savage Christmas’

Written by Tom Evans, the Casino-inspired thriller is led by Canadian actor Barry Pepper, Sam Neill, and Rachel Griffiths, with Liam McIntyre and co-producer Zac Garred part of the supporting cast.

Griffiths also appears in fellow Sunshine State production A Savage Christmas, from director Madeleine Dyer, which follows trans woman Davina Savage (Thea Raveneau) who, after years of estrangement, returns home for Christmas with her new boyfriend.

While she expects her transition to be the focus, it’s instead overshadowed by family secrets and lies which threaten not only their lives but another Christmas lunch. Dyer wrote the script alongside Daniel Mulvihill and Max Jahufer, who also features in the cast with Rekha Ryan, Helen Thomson, Darren Gilshenan, David Roberts, Gary Sweet, Ryan Morgan, and Griffiths.

Leading the international contingent is Jules, in which Kingsley plays a man whose quiet life of routine in a small western Pennsylvania town is upended when a UFO and its extra-terrestrial passenger crash land in his backyard. The cast also includes Zoe Winters and Jade Quon.

Of the titles falling under the four themes, there is Ego: The Michael Gudinksi Story, John Farnham: Finding the Voice, The Angels: Kickin’ Down the Door, Three Chords and the Truth, and This is Going to Be Big for Music Lovers; and The New Boy, Keeping Hope, co-produced by CinefestOZ ambassador Mark Coles Smith, Kindred, The Carnival, The Dark Emu Story, and Deadly Shorts (short film set) for First Nations.

Rachel’s Farm, Disconnect Me (World Premiere); Australia’s Open; Watanda, My Countryman will come under Real Stories, while screening experiences such as Priscilla – Queen of the Desert 30th Celebration, Blind Date with a Frenchie, Greatest Surf Movie in the Universe will appear alongside A Savage Christmas in the With a Twist pillar.

The festival will conclude with the Film Awards Celebration on Saturday, September 2 at Sabina River Farm in Busselton, where the recipients of the Screen Legend and Screen Legend and the $100,000 CinefestOZ Film Prize will be announced.

Early bird tickets for a range of events are now available.