CinefestOZ announces Shayda and The Rooster among finalists for film prize

WA's premiere film festival, CinefestOZ, has revealed the nominees for the Australian Film Prize, worth $100,000.

Western Australia’s CinefestOZ has unveiled its line-up of Australian films competing for Australia’s richest annual film prize – worth $100,000.

The festival itself takes place from 29 August to 3 September, promising a cinematic treat for WA moviegoers.

An anticipated highlight is the world premiere of local documentary Bromley: Light After Dark, directed by Australian director and cinematographer Sean McDonald.

Joining the line-up are three other Australian films: Monolith, directed by the talented Matt Vesely (making its Western Australia premiere) and the MIFF@CinefestOZ films Shayda directed by Noora Niasari and The Rooster directed by Mark Leonard Winter.

The Film Prize was previously won by Goran Stolevski’s Of an Age.

Read: Of an Age wins $100,000 CinefestOZ Film Prize

‘I’m thrilled to share our Film Prize Finalists for 2023 with Australia and the world,’ said Cassandra Jordan, the CEO of CinefestOZ. ‘These selected films truly delve into personal identity, employing clever and captivating storytelling techniques that set them apart from the submissions received for the Film Prize.’

The Film Prize Finalists’ films will undergo scrutiny from a panel of film industry experts during their public screenings. The filmmakers and their cast members will take to the red carpet before each Film Prize premiere, followed by an after-party celebration.

Beyond the screenings, CinefestOZ is holding a unique series of events where each Film Prize flick will be paired with cuisine from some of the south-west’s best restaurants, while the makers discuss their work on the films. This section of the program is called In Conversation, and will kick off on 31 August with Shayda and a lunch from Rustico.

The winner of the CinefestOZ 2023 Film Prize will be announced on Saturday 2 September, during the festival’s grand Film Prize Award Celebration.

The Film Prize finalists


A brave Iranian mother finds refuge in an Australian women’s shelter with her six-year-old daughter. Over Persian New Year, they take solace in Nowruz rituals and new beginnings, but when her estranged husband re-enters their lives, Shayda’s path to freedom is jeopardised. Directed by Noora Niasari and starring Zar Amir, Ebrahimi Mojean Aria and Leah Purcell.

The Rooster

When the body of his oldest friend is found buried in a shallow grave, Dan, a small-town cop, seeks answers from a volatile hermit who was the last person to see his friend alive. As Dan gets closer to the truth, he must confront his own personal demons, and he discovers that hope can be found in unlikely places. Written and directed by Mark Leonard Winter, this film stars Hugo Weaving alongside Phoenix Raei, John Waters and Helen Thomson.


A disgraced journalist turns to podcasting to try and rebuild her career, but her rush to generate headlines soon uncovers a strange artefact, an alien conspiracy and the lies at the heart of her own story. Directed by Matt Vesely, this sci-fi thriller, shot in one location over three weeks, stars Lily Sullivan as the sole on screen character, with audio cameos from Erik Thomson, Damon Herriman and Ling Cooper Tang.

Bromley: Light After Dark

David Bromley found that art appeased the voices in his head and helped him find beauty in the world. So he made the life-changing decision to commit his whole being to something meaningful. Light after Dark takes audiences into the world of this prominent Australian artist. Directed by Sean McDonald and produced by Clare Plueckhahn and Cathy Rodda, the documentary features David and Yuge Bromley and will have its world premiere at CinefestOZ 2023.

Early bird tickets for CinefestOZ are now on sale, with a full program launch scheduled for Thursday 20 July.

For tickets and more information, head to the CinefestOZ website.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports