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The Australian Film Festival (AFF) returned to Randwick Ritz cinema yesterday.

Spanning a wide variety of mediums and genres, the annual festival will showcase some of Australia’s finest cinematic talents with movies Red Dog, Swerve, Burning Man and more.

Director of the festival, Barry Watterson, said the AFF represents Australian cultural identity and is crucial towards the long-term development of our domestic film industry.

“We’ve got some of the best film- makers in the world. Eight of the top twenty grossing films of 2011 were contributed to by Australian film-makers. Not many Australians know that.”

“Film is the cultural voice of any country. It is the way we express
ourselves individually and as a nation,” he said.

“If we can raise the profile of Australian cinematic talent then audiences will start to recognise the beauty of our films.”

Having produced the Australian Film Week in 2009, Mr Watterson saw the potential for the creation of a new outlet that would support the development of aspiring actors, directors and passionate movie entrepreneurs.

“We wanted to build an outlet for Australian cinematic expression and educate audiences about the sheer quality of Australian film talents,” he said.

“We see Hollywood trailers everywhere, however our domestic industry doesn’t get the same coverage. Our festival provides that extra Australian voice.”

Attracting 15,000 people each year, the AFF has now established itself as a firm favourite among Sydneysiders as it continues to foster opportunities for home-grown stars.

In collaboration with the AFF, the Australian Film Walk of Fame acknowledges the contributions of outstanding Australian actors such as Barry Otto and Deborah Mailman, who will be inducted into the Walk of Fame on Sunday, March 11.

The Mayor of Randwick, Scott Nash, said the event represents a fine step forward for the future of Australian film: “The Australian Film Walk of Fame in The Spot Randwick has grown from strength to strength”, he said.

“Deborah and Barry are well-deserving additions to the Walk.”

The Spot Festival is running concurrently and will celebrate cultural diversity and film, with international food stalls, live performances and entertainment throughout the month of March.

Mr Watterson said this will be a major cultural event for the residents of Randwick and is excited about the potential that rests with the Australian film industry.

By Daniel Paperny