Goran Stolevski’s “Of An Age” won Australia’s richest film prize of A$100,000 ($65,000) at CinefestOz at a gala closing night over the weekend in Busselton, Western Australia.

The Macedonian born, Melbourne based writer and director Stolevski also presented his much-lauded first feature “We Are Not Alone” at the festival.

The CinefestOZ film prize is dedicated to new Australian-made films and consisted of four finalists.The others also included Gracie Otto’s comedy “Seriously Red,”, the world premiere of Matt Nable’s intense drama “Transfusion,” starring Sam Worthington and audience favorite, “Sweet As,” the first-time feature by local indigenous director Jub Clerc.

“Sweet As” was based on Clerc’s own experiences as a teenager traveling on a photographic road trip through the spectacular Pilbara region of Western Australia. (It has also been selected as one of five Australian projects to be screened at the Toronto festival this year.)

The competition jury was chaired by actor Richard Roxburgh (“Moulin Rouge,” “Elvis”) who was also named this year’s CinefestOZ 2021 Screen Legend, for his outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry.

The six-day festival, held in the scenic Margaret River region showcased a jam-packed schedule of 270 screenings and events featuring Australian shorts, features and documentaries, s as well as a two-day industry program with national and international guests.

The helpful local volunteers ( distinctively wearing red berets as a nod to the regions French heritage) has earned CinefestOz the reputation as “[Australia’s] friendliest festival.” the event is also a flagship for attracting tourism into the area, as the structure of the festival program encourages attendees to visit the region’s rugged surf beaches, native forests and high-end wineries and dining destinations

While the festival has continued to run in-person yearly during covid restrictions, 2022 was the first year since 2019 that the state’s strict border policies were eased to allow interstate Australians and international guests to attend.

CinefestOZ has set ambitious targets, already expanding to a subsidiary festival in Albany on the state’s southern region and will hold its first all indigenous three day film festival in Broome in November.

“We started as a local film festival fifteen years ago and have achieved so much,” Malinda Nixon, CEO CinefestOZ told Variety. “We are now a premier destination film festival and we are the only one that focuses on Australian features, shorts and docos.”

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