A PROGRAM that shines the spotlight on the legends of the bush has just been released for Australia’s first ever outback film festival, to be staged in Winton at the end of June.
From 1950s classics such as Charles Chauvel’s epic story of a family battling the odds in Sons of Matthew to comedies such as Crocodile Dundee and dark gothic tales such as Wake in Fright, the ten-day program is an acknowledgement of the important place the outback plays in both Australian film and our psyche.
Inspired by the legendary Sundance Film Festival which takes place in the American desert at Utah each year, the Vision Splendid film festival is an overdose of Australian culture.
Running from Friday, June 27, to Sunday, July 6, many of the films will be screened under the open sky in Winton’s huge outdoor cinema, the Royal Open Air Theatre, one of only two in Australia.
Festival communications spokesperson Krista Hauritz believes the deep affiliation Australia has with the outback comes largely from the movies they watch, some of which have been shot in the Winton area.
“The community felt there was real potential, even in drought times, to develop a festival around film, and the screening of Mystery Road in Winton last year reignited that desire,” she said.
“Many of our internationally acclaimed films have been inspired by the outback, and Waltzing Matilda was penned there.
“With the heritage of innovation and the stunning scenery on offer, it all made sense to do this.”
As well as giving visitors another way to experience the outback, the long term vision is to create a film university annexe, involving the Griffith Film School, to create stories to fit the area and give it real depth.
In the meantime, the two festival highlights for Krista will be the newly released Tracks, a story of a woman’s journey across the Australian outback, and Wake in Fright, one of the first Australian films to be shown at Cannes.
There will be a huge smorgasboard for viewers – 10 days, 50 films, 10,000 scenes is the slogan – The Slim Dusty Movie as part of the opening night party, Red Dog on the closing weekend, and classics like Sunday Too Far Away and A Town Like Alice in between.
Festival curator Greg Dolgopolov describes it as a program that explores sophisticated contemporary short films, international art house hits and internationally acclaimed Australian films.
It will also contain film making competitions and workshops, live entertainment, a special children’s program and social activities.
Visitors are also invited to join stories of the Dreamtime with Winton’s indigenous elders around a campfire.
Special events include costume making, and a live recording of ABC’s Conversations with Richard Fidler on July 3.
Organisers say that while there is a wide range of accommodation options from famous hotels, motels, caravan parks and camping, or bush camping at Bladensburg National Park, Long Waterhole, Opalton Bush Park and Old Cork Station, the first weekend is already booked out and people are advised to get in quickly.