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We speak to festival director Barry Watterson about a local film fiesta that’s about to take over the eastern suburbs.

How is the Australian Film Festival different from other film festivals in Sydney? Australian film is defined by where the investment funds came from (usually Screen Australia). Often though, a lot of our best work is done in overseas productions (e.g. The King’s Speech). The AFF is committed to recognising great Australian film and filmmakers, wherever they are working in the world. Instead of where the money came from to make the film, we focus on whether the major creative talent involved in the production is Australian. Australian films have almost no marketing budget and can’t compete against big American releases, so we will screen a mixture of upcoming first releases and great independent films.

What can festival goers expect at AFF 2011? Films will be a great mix of soon to be released features, fabulous independents and a fringe category, as well as the best of Australian short films. But there’s more – we will be presenting an outdoor beach screening, the Spot Food & Film Festival and The Australian Film Walk of Fame. We will also present the Next Wave Film Centre providing workshops and seminars for filmmakers and the FutureFilm Scriptwriting Competition where the finalists will have their scripts moved on stage for a first prize of $1,000.00.

Can you give The Bondi View / City News readers a sneak peak into the feature films category? Festival Highlights this year include opening night film The Wedding Party starring Isabel Lucas, Josh Lawson, Steve Bisley, Rhonda Burchmore and Adam Zwar, highly anticipated Australian release, Griff, the Invisible with True Blood star Ryan Kwanten and a shark thriller The Reef starring Damian Walshe-Howling, Zoe Naylor and Gyton Grantley amongst many others.

What are your top 5 Australian films of all time? Only 5? Here’s a selection from across the decades. Wake In Fright, Jeddah, The Castle, The Sum of Us and Romper Stomper.

Mar 2-13, Randwick Ritz Cinema, 45 St. Pauls St, Randwick, Clovelly Beach, Coogee Legion Club & Fox Studios, $8-13, 9399 5722, australianfilmfestival.com

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