Trailer directed by Greg J Latham
Down Under Berlin is Europe's festival for Australian & New Zealand film and returns to Moviemento Kino from 14 - 18 September 2016.
Interview with Founder Frances Hill
Why did the Down Under Berlin Film Festival begin?
I felt that something was missing from the film festival scene in Berlin, and also that hardly any films from Down Under got a cinema release in Germany. I wanted to show my friends, as well as strangers, the cinematic gems these lands have to offer. The first festival edition took place in 2011.
What are some of the festival highlights?
In 2016, our opening film SPEAR from choreographer Stephen Page is unlike anything I’ve seen before, and the story of cultural identity developing from traditional and modern life is so relevant today.
Also, our short films are fantastic, as in every year – we are presenting some amazingly talented filmmakers to check out in all shorts programs.
For the first time we’re showing a feature-length animated film with Elliot Cowen’s THE STRESSFUL ADVENTURES OF BOXHEAD AND ROUNDHEAD, and are again exploring cinematic history from Down Under with SLEEPING DOGS in our classics program slot. The moving and thought-provoking refugee documentary THE DROWNED DREAMS by Farshid Akhlaghipour stands out, offering a rare perspective on the highly topical public debate on asylum seekers. And we are proud to present the German premiere of HUNT FOR THE WILDERPEOPLE starring Sam Neill, and directed by the always entertaining Taika Waititi as our closing feature.
Can you discuss your involvement?
I set up the call for entries, check screening copies, liaise with the cinema staff, get in touch with potential sponsors, communicate with Embassy staff. Together with my co-directors I’m involved in curating the program, reviewing graphic designs and working with our trailer director.
How many submissions were received?
In 2016 we received about 100 submissions. We noticed an increase in feature-length submissions, most of them are independent features or documentaries that would not have made it to Germany/Europe since they do not have a German distributor.
What type of feedback have you received so far about the film festival?
Local media have described our film program as diverse, giving great insight into the Australian and New Zealand film culture. We also get good feedback on our support for filmmakers from Down Under as well as the promotion of Australian and New Zealand culture in the public perception.
Our audiences enjoy the rare chance to see films on the big screen that they would normally not get to see at the movies. We have also been coined one of the most fun film festivals in Berlin.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
We’ve had a few requests for new releases that are in cinemas in Australia, many of which we wish to screen in the future.
On a personal level, the positive feedback challenges us to work even harder and to make our festival better each year – for our audience and for the filmmakers.
What are you looking to achieve by having information about the film festival more visible on We Are Moving Stories?
We want to reach as many people as we can who love film and are looking for moving, beautiful, challenging, heart-wrenching, unusual, and funny stories. We also want to connect with representatives of the industry such as producers, distributors other film festival directors and media Down Under and beyond. In that regard We are moving Stories seems like a great opportunity.
Who do you need to come on board (audience, publicity, media) to amplify this film festival’s message and audience?
Of course, we’d love to see audiences from all over the world, people who are living in or visiting Berlin. More publicity is always good. The more people hear about us the better! So, presence in diverse media is important as our festival offers so many different films. But we are also looking for more permanent partners and bigger sponsorship deals that would allow us to further improve our efforts and perhaps someday pay our team the share they earn.
What type of impact would you like this film festival to have?
We want to show our audience the creative and technical achievements of filmmakers from Down Under, show them there is so much more than a tourist brochure will tell you about Australia and New Zealand. We also want to create a festival that filmmakers want to be a part of, audiences enjoy, and which gives all kinds of films the chance to be seen on the big screen.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate about your film festival?
We are intent on showing our local audiences the craft, relevance, and relatability of films from Down Under. The question is why so many Germans and/or Europeans are so fascinated with Australia and New Zealand and travel and live there for weeks and months but know so little about the film scene in these countries.
Would you like to add anything else?
Come and visit us in September!
Interview: September 2016
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Down Under Berlin Film Festival 14-18 September 2016
When and where: Every September in Berlin/Germany
Upcoming festival dates: 14-18 September 2016
Founder: Frances Hill
(Festival Directory: Frances Hill, Sabrina Wittmann, Berit Becker)
Looking for (audience, publicity, media):
We want to attract film industry professionals in Australia, New Zealand and Germany in order to promote and support the film scene and culture of Down Under and connect filmmakers, producers and distributors from all those regions.
In terms of audiences we are reaching out to the culturally curious Berliner and/or Germans just as much as Internationals/expats (e.g. Australians and New Zealanders living in Berlin/Germany). Everyone who loves film and is especially interested in the unique and diverse cinema that comes from Down Under will have a great time at the festival.
And of course any media output regarding our festival is music to our ears!
Funders: We are a non-profit festival without fixed funding. So far all team members work on a voluntary and unpaid basis. However, to cover the expenses we are supported by institutional, business and private sponsors and partners. Our main financial supporters are the Australian and New Zealand Embassies in Germany, sponsors who buy ads on screen and/or in the printed catalogue, companies who are willing to accommodate us in business deals and some private donors.
Made in association with: Ourselves.