Homegrown films are making a scene

TWO Perth cinephiles have beaten the pandemic odds and are expanding their highly popular WA film festival.

Despite launching under the pall of Covid in 2020, the annual WA Made Film Festival has gone from strength-to-strength and is now in its third year.

Co-founder Matt Eeles says this year’s festival will be the biggest yet with 67 local films, three world premiere feature films, a world premiere web series, a live musical performance, more than 55 short films, a filmmaking workshop and the return of WA’s only smartphone filmmaking competition.

“Not only was our submission record broken for the third year running, it was absolutely smashed,” Eeles says.

To accommodate demand, the festival has been extended from three to four days.

So how did Eeles and his film producer chum Jasmine Leivers nurture a hit festival in such unpredictable times?

“We know no different,” Eeles says.

“[The festival] was literally born into Covid with the first ever festival opening in 2020 on the weekend the entire planet was being locked down.

“Thankfully there is a strong appetite out there for local art, whether that’s screen art or art in general.

“People love to see their hometowns, suburbs they grew up in and characters they recognise on the big screen.

“The WA Made Film Festival showcases all of those things and I think that’s why it has been such a success. It’s a reprieve from another painfully ordinary Marvel or Disney film.”

This year’s festival kicks off with a special screening of Renée Webster’s How to Please a Woman.

Shot in Fremantle, it’s a funny and heart-warming tale of liberation for women who have been afraid to ask for what they want – at home, at work and in the bedroom!

Another highlight is the doco Harmony: The Missing 8th.

Filmed over three years, it follows the WA Symphony Orchestra as they prepare to travel to Beijing and Shanghai to perform in 2016. Fraught with red tape and logistical headaches, the doco is an entertaining look at the challenges of a western orchestra playing in China.

The festival will also screen the world premiere of Christopher Mark Peters’ thriller Moorehouse Road, which follows young newlyweds Sunni and Flynn as they travel across WA to start a new life.

Along the way they stay at a guest house with an eccentric landlady, and it all gets a bit terrifying from there on in.

For the first time, this year’s programme also includes Left of Centre, a series of experimental/horror shorts.

“Our jaws hit the floor when we watched these films during the programming process,” says Eeles, founder of Cinema Australia. 

“Some are eye-opening descents into pure madness, others transport you directly into the dreams of the filmmakers behind them, and some are so violent that they’re guaranteed to whet the appetite of any gore hound.”

Held at Palace Cinemas Raine Square in Perth from Thursday March 10 to Sunday March 13, many screenings include networking events and Q&As.

For full program go to www.wamadefilmfestival.com.au

by STEPHEN POLLOCK

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