CinefestOZ $100,000 Film Prize finalists revealed

Leah Purcell in The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson.

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CinefestOZ has announced the four films that will compete for this year’s $100,000 Film Prize.

The early lineup of films comes ahead of the festival’s full program reveal on July 29.

Anthology film Here Out West, Martin Bryant drama Nitram, documentary River, and The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson are this year’s Film Prize finalists and are all in the running for Australia’s largest film prize of $100,000, awarded by a yet-to-be announced Jury of prominent Industry guests.

After a hiatus last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, previous winners of the $100,000 film prize are H is For Happiness (2019), Jirga (2018), Ali’s Wedding (2017), Girl Asleep (2016), Putuparri and the Rainmakers (2015) and Paper Planes (2014).

CinefestOZ Chair Helen Shervington said that this year’s finalists are a brilliant showcase that reflect the diversity and complexity of storytelling at this year’s festival.

“I continue to be impressed by the calibre and originality of film submissions to the festival each year, and I’m proud to say the 2021 Film Prize finalists are fantastic,” Shervington said.

“We can’t wait for our audiences to be back at the cinema watching these films – all of which will have their WA premieres at CinefestOZ. The range and creativity shown across all four films is exactly why supporting Australian storytelling through filmmaking is so important.”

Here are the films:

Here Out West

Creative and collaborative Australian storytelling culminates in the incredible Here Out West, a Film Prize finalist from writers Nisrine Amine, Bina Bhattacharya, Matias Bolla, Claire Cao, Arka Das, Dee Dogan, Vonne Patiag and Tien Tran. A feature film anthology following eight intersecting stories in Western Sydney, this fantastic film highlights the talent of filmmakers in Australia.

Directed by Fadia Abboud, Lucy Gaffy, Julie Kalceff, Ana Kokkinos and Leah Purcell Here Out West is a groundbreaking reframing of the Australian story.

Here Out West.


An unmissable Film Prize finalist this year is Justin Kurzel’s compelling drama-thriller Nitram. The story depicts the lead-up to one of the darkest events in Australian history, and was selected to premiere at the coveted Festival de Cannes this year – the first Australian film to do so in-competition in 10 years.

Featuring an incredible cast of International and Australian talent, Nitram stars Caleb Landry Jones, Judy Davis, Essie Davis and Anthony LaPaglia. Directed by Kurzel (Snowtown, True History of the Kelly Gang) and written by Shaun Grant (Penguin Bloom, Snowtown), this film will have its WA premiere at CinefestOZ.

Judy Davis in Nitram.


CinefestOZ, a festival set amongst the unique landscapes of the South West, proudly hosts Film Prize finalist River. This innovative and compelling documentary, directed by Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa, Mountain) and Joseph Nizeti and narrated by Willem Dafoe, inspires audiences to acutely observe the surrounding land on which we live and reconnect with the natural world.

Rivers are the arteries of the planet. Wherever they travel life forms can emerge, survive, perhaps flourish, including human life. Rivers are irrepressible and, given the chance, possess miraculous powers of recovery. This unique film takes audiences on an odyssey of cinematic and musical feasts to explore the remarkable relationship between humans and rivers.

A shot from River. Canyonlands Oxbows. Photo by Pete McBride.

The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson

The spotlight for Busselton’s Opening Night event shines firmly on The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson, competing as a Film Prize finalist this year. Director Leah Purcell (She. Say., Black Chicks Talking) has inverted Henry Lawson’s iconic short story from page to silver screen, as well as taking on the film’s titular role. Set in remote Snowy Mountains, Molly Johnson’s husband is away droving sheep, leaving her to care for their children. Despite being heavily pregnant, Molly must keep various threats at bay.

Purcell, a proud Goa, Gunggari, Wakka Wakka Murri woman, has adapted this high country searing thriller from her own acclaimed stage play; exploring gender, identity, racial violence and domestic abuse. The film premiered earlier this year at SXSW in Austin, Texas.

The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson.

Throughout the festival, filmmakers and attending talent from all Film Prize finalist films will walk the red carpet at Orana Cinemas ahead of each premiere.

All of this year’s Film Prize screenings can be paired with their unique In Conversation dining experiences, where you’ll hear from filmmakers what it was like bringing these projects to life. Each event will showcase the best food and wine the South West region has to offer whilst entertaining audiences with enlightening film discussions.

These popular events are set to sell fast, so be quick in securing your In Conversation tickets for Here Out West, Nitram, River and The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson online.

Tickets for the Early Bird program, including Opening Night premieres, special dining events and short film sets are also now available to secure online. You can download the official CinefestOZ app to search session times, book tickets and build your calendar of events during the festival.

The full film program for this year’s event will launch on Thursday 29 July with an exciting array of new and established filmmakers premiering their work. The festival also continues to diversify with the return of ‘Cinesnaps’, the dedicated schools program, and ‘IndigifestOZ’, a specific film program showcasing Aboriginal filmmakers.

CinefestOZ Film Festival runs 25-29 August in WA’s picturesque South West region. Tickets and passes are available online now.

Keep an eye on for the full CinefestOZ program announcement from July 29.

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