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Recap: Down Under Berlin 2016

Down Under Berlin says thank you for a fantastic sixth festival. The theme this year was “Life Happens” and the festival presented a fantastic selection of stories from around Australia and New Zealand, which capture the stories of love and friendship, loss and regret, coming-of-age, finding oneself and how the choices we make define our lives.

Down Under Berlin opened with a sold out session of Australia’s first Indigenous contemporary dance film: Spear (2015) by acclaimed choreographer Stephen Page who brings Bangarra Dance Theatre’s outstanding work to the screen.

The closing screening, the German premiere of Taika Waititi’s universally acclaimed hit comedy Hunt For the Wilderpeople (2016), was the most successful screening in the the history of the festival with six sold out presentations of the feature on Sunday, 18 September at Moviemento Kino. HE Peter Rodney Harris, the New Zealand Ambassador to Germany introduced the screening which was also attended by the producer of the film Carthew Neal.

Down Under Berlin welcomes the noticeable increase in feature-length film submissions and was delighted to see the number of attending filmmakers and producers grow. Video documentation of Q&As and interviews are now available on the festival’s YouTube channel.

Down Under Berlin 2016 broken down in numbers

Festival guests: 1086
Festival cinemas: 1
Film submissions: 99
Films screened: 37 ≙ ca. 20h (feature films: 11, short films: 26)
Originally scheduled festival screenings: 15
Added screenings due to high ticket demand: 6
Sold out feature presentations: 3
International premieres: 3
European premieres: 12
German premieres: 17

Down Under Berlin Audience Awards 2016

Two Australian films took out the Audience Awards in the categories “Best Film” and “Best Short Film” this year.

The Disappearance of Willie Bingham by Matthew Richards (AUS | 2015 ) was voted this year’s favourite short film. The fictional film introduces us to the character of Willie Bingham (Kevin Dee) who is the first man to undergo a radical new justice program. The government has introduced Progressive Amputation as a punishment for capital crime, performed live in front of victims’ families, stopping only at their request.

The independent feature  Love is Now by Jim Lounsbury (AUS | 2014 | German Premiere) was especially liked by the audience as it is not your average romantic film. It has a boy meets girl premise, but the protagonist is male and it’s his love for her that ultimately drives the film forward and eventually lets the viewer discover the secrets as to why.

In 2016, Down Under Berlin partnered up with an official prize sponsor: The Berlin-based tech startup LUUV, provides two of their highly innovative camera stabilizers solidLUUV to the recipients of the audience awards.

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About Down Under Berlin

The Down Under Berlin film festival has been a vital hub for enthusiasts of Australian and New Zealand cinema and culture since 2011. Ranging from independent productions to blockbusters, from student or professional short films to inspiring documentaries – diversity is the most important part of the program. The festival’s Down Under focus is still an exception in Europe and absolutely unique in Germany. Besides the annual festival Down Under Berlin hosts events throughout the year.

Down Under Berlin is a project by the non-profit association Down Under Berlin – Australian Film Festival e.V.