Welcome Note_FrancesHill_PhoebeBrown_DUB_14092016©MartinBayer_8692_660x375

I am delighted to welcome you here to Movimento Kino tonight for the opening of the 6th Down Under Berlin Film Festival with this year’s theme “LIFE HAPPENS” – 5 days showcasing outstanding Australian – and New Zealand – film and celebrating our creative talent.

I would like to thank the Down Under Berlin Festival Management – Frances Hill, Berit Becker, Sabrina Wittmann – and the entire Down Under Berlin festival team, for inviting me to join you for the festival opening tonight.

Australia has strong, long-standing cultural ties with Germany. Both our countries are vibrant cultural centres with sophisticated, diverse and culturally rich societies. In Australia, this also includes our unique Indigenous heritage.

Berlin, as an international cultural hub that attracts artists from all over the world, is a prominent platform for Australian creative talent, whether this be at international festivals and cultural events (like the Berlinale Film Festival, Berlin Art Week, or the Down Under Film Festival); the many touring Australian bands, orchestras, dance and theatre companies (like the Paul Kelly concert in Berlin last week); or the numerous Berlin galleries are showing Australian artists, including two galleries that specialize in Australian art.

The Australian Government wants to strengthen this collaboration and engagement between our two countries across a range of fields, including the creative industries.

In fact, last week the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, visited Berlin and announced that Germany will be the focus country of the Australian cultural diplomacy program “Australia Now” in 2017.

This means 2017 will be an even more exciting year to celebrate our creative and innovative industries as key elements in our engagement with Germany. Australian film will feature in the program, starting with Berlinale in February. Bangarra Dance Theatre, Australia’s leading Indigenous performing arts company, will also feature prominently in the program with a series of performances towards the end of the year.

We are very much looking forward to this exciting opportunity to showcase Australian talent and raise Australia’s profile as an innovative, contemporary and creative nation.

As you know, the Australian Government is very keen to promote Australia’s excellence in film and entertainment, because we have such a pool of creative, talented actors, directors, producers, crew and technicians.

The Down Under Berlin Film Festival is unique in Berlin’s festival calendar as a platform to showcase Australian film and contributes significantly to promoting Australian and New Zealand film in Berlin and Germany. We greatly appreciate the very good relationship we have established with the festival management over the past few years; and I wish the Down Under Berlin team a very successful 6th festival.

Now, I have the great privilege of introducing the European premiere of the Australian feature film Spear, in which director and acclaimed choreographer Stephen Page brings to the screen Bangarra Dance Theatre’s outstanding work.

Spear is a contemporary Aboriginal story, told through movement and dance, of a young man Djali (Hunter Page-Lochard), as he journeys through his community to understand what it means to be a man with ancient traditions in a modern world. Along the way it deals with a range of issues in contemporary Australian society and showcases stunning Australian landscapes, from the Australian outback to the city streets of Sydney.

On behalf of the Australian Embassy, I would like to thank you once again for the opportunity to join with you in opening the festival with the European premiere of Spear. Thank you – enjoy the film.

Phoebe Brown
Australian Embassy in Berlin