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The fourteenth Canberra International Film Festival is a 12-
day celebration of the power of film. With some of the greatest
collaborative minds in the business at the forefront, get ready to feel
the cultural pulse right here in the capital. BY LOUISE IRWIN
Virgina Haussegger doesn't need a lavish
budget to compete with Cannes, Venice and
Berlin. As director of Canberra International
Film Festival, one of her main aims is not to
bring the world to the nation's capital, but to take the
capital's audience to the world through film.
Though still a fledgling event when compared with
the decades-old history or immense programming of
Australia's other capital city festivals, the Canberra Film
Festival is now in it's fourteenth year.
Haussegger and the team behind the festival,
including artistic director Simon Weaving aim to
present audiences with a program to suit all tastes.
"It's about stepping out of our lives and our city for
the duration of a film, and the duration of the festival,"
The Canberra International Film Festival brings the
world to our doorstep, with 48 films and 23 countries.
There's also a strong Australian presence with six
Australian documentaries showing.
Virginia Haussegger is convinced that her new
chief programmer and artistic visionary has got it
"The Canberra audience is a sophisticated and
educated audience. Therefore it's an audience that is
open to being challenged and surprised by what they
might encounter in an international film festival. Simon
has a wonderful eye for a good story, and it's the
engagement of a story that has been a key driver in his
From humble beginnings at the University of
Canberra in 1996, the Festival has grown into a
popular and high-quality event, and is a fixture on the
Haussegger came onboard last year, and after a
'whirlwind' beginning, the result was increased support
and ticket sales reaching 1200.
With a continually developing arts culture, the capital
presents itself as one of the best in the country for a
collaborative showing of a wide array of films.
"Canberra is an interesting place -- it is a supportive
environment of film," Haussegger adds.
"The Canberra audience is different to the regular
audience, but I found they can be the toughest -- a
discerning and educated audience. They are people
who have access to a wide range of activities -- we
need to be appealing to this particular audience"
Working alongside creative genius and film veteran,
Simon Weaving is a task Haussegger doesn't take for
"One attraction (to taking the job) was that I had the
chance to work with people who creatively inspire
each other," she said.
"It is very collaborative; he (Simon) will either die by it
(his choice of films) or be celebrated."
Last year, the festival was opened with the
controversial film, The Hurt Locker. Haussegger
admits that she and the rest of the team were a little
concerned with presenting the Canberra audience
with such a powerful film, but fears were laid to rest
following the astounding audience reaction. "Simon
needs to be congratulated as he took a chance with
that movie, and it ended up being a great success,"
"The film set the tone for the festival. It is all about
seeing things that you wouldn't normally see and
engaging the audience in the films. We want them
to discuss everything; what they liked, what they
didn't like. "
The 12-day celebration of film showcases
an exceptional selection of feature films and
documentaries from around the world plus the best
Australian new releases and retrospectives.
The festival also offers additional events including Q
and A's, panel discussions and workshops hosted by
talented filmmakers passionate about their craft and
willing to share their knowledge.
With the jam-packed program in its final stages, this
year promises to be bigger and better than ever.
Travel the world and feel the cultural pulse from the
depths of South America, across the US, UK, Europe,
through Scandinavia, Russia and some tantalising
choice picks from Korea -- all in the comfort of our
Virginia Haussegger at Dendy Canberra Centre.
In the City Spring
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