Cockatoo Island to host world’s biggest festival of Australian film

Press release from Sydney Harbour Federation Trust

The Sydney Harbour Federation Trust will host the world’s biggest festival of Australian film in a five-day event on Cockatoo Island next year.

Being staged for the first time, the Cockatoo Island Film Festival (CIFF) will celebrate Australian film, television and digital content. The festival will also include a World Cinema sidebar of new independent works. It will be managed by Dungog Film Festival co-founders Allanah Zitserman and Stavros Kazantzidis, whose offices will be based on Cockatoo Island from September.

CIFF is scheduled to run in the final quarter of 2012 in the convict and industrial precincts of Cockatoo Island.

Around 200 Australian and 100 international films are expected to be screened to audiences of more than 15,000 people in the first year. As well as the five-day festival, there will be public programs throughout the year covering script development workshops, education programs, student film projects and residencies. Packages with camping and accommodation and education programs will be on offer.

“As well as being a tourist destination for Sydneysiders and visitors, Cockatoo Island is an inspiring work environment,” said Sydney Harbour Federation Trust Executive Director, Geoff Bailey. “The trust is encouraging more cultural organisations to base themselves on the island as we establish more sustained activity.”

Later this year Cockatoo Island will be transformed into an urban art festival called Outpost Project, running for five weeks from November 4. Outpost Project, Art from the Streets is an inaugural free event with large scale installations, exhibitions, live art moments, films and forums. It will include innovative education workshops and art-making projects as well as pop up bars, artist battles, demos, DJs, tours and activities for families.

Dungog Film Festival director Allanah Zitserman said the move to Cockatoo Island was a way of extending the following built by the Dungog festival in the past five years. Dungog attracted around 10,000 festival-goers to the NSW town this year, a 550% increase on when it started.

“The growth and success of Dungog has highlighted the community’s appetite for Australian film, as well as the potential for fostering and celebrating screen culture. Dungog offers a rich cultural experience in a rural setting and will remain a signature event on the arts calendar,” Ms Zitserman said. “CIFF is an opportunity to attract new city and international audiences for Australian film.”