Sea breeze whispering in the Norfolk pines, golden sun sinking behind Rotto, live music wafting, good friends sipping wine and chatting, and the big screen flickers to life.
Welcome to Perth’s newest summer movie event: the Cottesloe Outdoor Film Festival.
The brainchild of Miranda Edmonds of Cottesloe Films, and outdoor cinema specialist Peter Hudson of SunsetCine, this summer festival lured a sizeable first night crowd to the glorious Cottesloe Civic Centre grounds on Saturday night.
This year featuring an indigenous theme, the first screening of the four-movie festival was acclaimed Australian drama, Tanna, based on a true story that unfolds in Vanuatu.
It was a timely choice, as Tanna has just been nominated for an Academy Award. It is the first foreign language nomination for an Australian film.
This year’s festival also includes short films from the Indigenous Communities Stories (ICS).
Patrons set up their picnic bivouacs on the Centre’s lower western lawn and settled in for a night under the stars, most making regular forays to the wine, pizza and dessert tents to stock up on goodies.
“Our intention is to show some of the best films in the world, in the best place in the world,” Miranda tellsThe Starfish. “The Civic Centre is a beautiful location and we wanted to find a way to bring the community together in this space.”
Peter sees such events as more than just a night at the movies.
“It’s also a way for families and friends to share a meal, listen to great music and have a shared cinematic experience,” he says.
The new event has the imprimatur of the Council, which encourages arts activities in the neighbourhood.
“The Town of Cottesloe is pleased to support this exciting new event which offers local movie lovers an opportunity to experience outdoor cinema in the beautiful and much loved grounds of the Civic Centre,” says Mayor Jo Dawkins.
Miranda says she couldn’t have hoped for a better opening night.
“There was a very relaxed vibe and people loved Tanna. The music was great, the sunset beautiful and the atmosphere just perfect!.”
A director and producer herself, Miranda says inspiration for running her own film festival came from a sojourn on the Côte d’Azur at another rather famous movie festival.
”I was lucky enough to be at the Cannes Film Festival a number of years ago, and as I stood on the Riviera looking out at the beachfront I thought Cottesloe is as beautiful as Cannes – we should have a festival too!” she says.
“The Civic Centre is so beautiful and highly under-utilised for community events. What a perfect place to sit back and watch amazing cinema under the stars.
“I was also driven by the fact there are so many amazing films being made in the world that we don’t always get to see here in Perth so I wanted the ability to show the audience something different.”
Will the festival become a regular summertime event in Cott?
”We hope it will. Our aim is to make it an annual event and the council has been very supportive this year so we hope to be back in 2018.”
What is the most difficult part of kicking off a festival?
”Being a new festival, the biggest obstacle is getting the word out there,” she says. ” We are competing with Fringe and a lot of other cultural events in February, which is tricky.
“But there is something about being at the beach in summer that Perth people just love, and we had a great crowd at Tanna so I think word has already began to spread.”
Miranda says she learned a thing or two Saturday, like taking the evening sea breeze into account.
”Bring a jumper and rug for when the sun goes down! And leave enough room to go to Edition dessert bar for Rachel’s home made ice cream sandwich.”
Cottesloe Films also has plenty of irons in the fire of its own, says Miranda.
“We have just competed a short musical romantic comedy called Library of Love. It stars Trilby Glover (Scream Queens, Righteous Kill, Threshold) and Ian Brennan (Co-creator Glee TV Series) and some wonderful Perth actors.
“In it, Isabelle is a hopeless romantic who spends her days as a librarian reading too many romance novels and dreaming of true love. Can she pull her nose out of the books long enough to write her own love story?
“We are just starting to enter it in festivals and will have our Perth Premiere in the next few months. My brother Khrob and I are also working on a number of feature film scripts,” she adds.
Upcoming Cottesloe Outdoor Film Festival movies are Paper Planes, Embrace of the Serpent and Hunt for the Wilderpeople.
The ICS is a Film and Television Institute of Perth program which records and archives Indigenous oral histories and cultural expressions on film. The Festival is donating $2 from every full priced ticket to the Cottesloe Coastcare Association, which is also provides volunteers for the event.
When: Saturday 11, 18 and Friday 24 February 2017
Where: Cottesloe Civic Centre, Lower Lawn
Tickets available from: www.cottesloeoutdoorfilmfestival.com.au