CinefestOZ names five finalists for $100,000 prize

Owen Trevor’s GO!, John Sheedy’s H is for Happiness, Ben Lawrence’s Hearts and Bones, Mirrah Foulkes’ Judy & Punch and Paul Ireland’s Measure for Measure will compete for Australia’s biggest film prize.

Those are the finalists for the $100,000 prize at CinefestOZ, which will run from August 28 to September 1 in Bunbury, Busselton, Margaret River and surrounds.

CinefestOZ festival chair Helen Shervington said it had been another stellar year for the film prize entries and this year’s finalists are the cream of the crop.

The prize was established in 2014 to recognise excellence in Australian filmmaking and is awarded on the gala night by a five-member industry jury, this year chaired by director/writer Rachel Ward.

Scripted by Paper Planes‘ Steve Worland and produced by See Pictures’ Jamie Hilton and Sonia Borella, GO! stars William Lodder, Anastasia Bampos, Darius Amarfio-Jefferson, Dan Wyllie, Cooper Van Grootel, Damian De Montemas, Richard Roxburgh and Frances O’Connor.


After Jack (Lodder) and his single mother (O’Connor) move to a small town in Western Australia, he gets involved in the competitive world of go-kart racing but must learn to control his recklessness.

To do so he needs the help of aspiring engineer, Mandy (Bampos), wise-cracking best mate Colin (Amarfio-Jefferson) and mysterious mentor Patrick (Roxburgh). Together the team tries to overcome all odds and defeat ruthless racer Dean (Van Grootel) to win the National Go Kart Championship. Roadshow will release the family film in January.

Set in Albany, H is for Happiness is based on the book My Life as an Alphabet by Barry Jonsberg, produced by Julie Ryan, Tenille Kennedy and Lisa Hoppe. Scripted by Hoppe, the comedy/drama chronicles the determination of 12-year-old Candice McPhee (Daisy Axon) to bring her family back from the brink after a family tragedy and spark happiness in their lives.

The cast includes Wesley Patten, Miriam Margolyes, Richard Roxburgh, Emma Booth, Joel Jackson, Deborah Mailman and a miniature horse. Universal Pictures will launch the film, which premieres at the Melbourne International Film Festival, in the first half of next year.

‘Hearts and Bones.’

Hearts and Bones stars Hugo Weaving as Daniel Fisher, a war photographer who returns home to prepare for his latest exhibition when South Sudanese refugee Sebastian Aman (Andrew Luri) appears at his door with a request – that he not exhibit any photographs of the massacre in his village, taken 15 years earlier.

An unlikely friendship between the two men ensues but it is put to the test when Daniel makes a shocking discovery. Matt Reeder is the producer and Lawrence co-wrote the script with Beatrix Christian. Madman Entertainment will distribute in Australia/NZ.

Produced by Michele Bennett, Nash Edgerton and Danny Gabai, Judy & Punch is a live-action reinterpretation of the famous 17th century puppet show.

Mia Wasikowska and Damon Herriman play the titular roles of puppeteers living in a peculiar, unforgiving town of Seaside. When the charismatic Punch reveals his sinister side, Judy teams up with a band of outcast heretics to enact revenge on him and the entire town. Madman Entertainment is the distributor.

A contemporary re-telling of Shakespeare’s play, Measure for Measure deals with an unlikely romance between an immigrant Muslim girl and a young musician, set against the crime, drugs and racial disharmony in Melbourne’s public housing.

Co-written by Ireland and the late Damian Hill, the drama stars Hugo Weaving, Harrison Gilbertson, Megan Hajjar, Mark Leonard Winter, Daniel Henshall and Fayssal Bazzi. Umbrella Entertainment will release the film, which also premieres at MIFF, next year.

Early bird tickets for CinefestOZ are available now through the CinefestOZ website The full film and event program and ticket sales will go live on July 26.