CinefestOZ - Celebrating Busselton's French  Connection

For the latest news and information from Western Australia's premier film festival visit the CinefestOZ website

What do Busselton, Western Australia and St Tropez, France have in common?

Besides a thriving tourism economy and a mild coastal climate, it is the cultural links that have excited the most attention within the two communities.  This has led to a cultural initiative called CinefestOZ, an annual festival which bills itself as ‘a celebration of French & Australian Film surrounded by cultural events which help enhance the link between our two nations.'

When French explorer Nicolas Baudin visited Busselton's coastline in 1801, he lost a midshipman called Timothy Vasse overboard.  According to local history, Vasse was rescued by the Wardandi people and lived for a time in traditional Aboriginal tribal life, eventually dying from homesickness and a broken heart.  Baudin went on to name a significant number of sites along the South West coast, including the township of Vasse, Point Piquet and Geographe Bay.  This is the romantic heart of the French connection, and has guided the development of a friendship between Busselton and St Tropez.

Wes Hartley and wife Beverly Biggs
Following various interactions on a community level, an approach was made by St Tropez to Busselton in 2005, to explore links and the possibility of an official friendship between the two municipalities.  The Mayor of St Tropez visited Busselton in April 2006, followed by a reciprocal self funded delegation from Busselton to St Tropez, which included several Councillors, Shire CEO, South West MLC and various community members. 

It was seen to be important that any future official link, such as a Treaty of Friendship between the two municipalities, be strongly underpinned by community activated projects and involvement, with the City of Busselton Council providing civic support.  This approach allies closely with the City of Busselton's Cultural Planning Program which has a strong community partnership focus and recommends that ‘times and places for the coming together of indigenous history and migrant histories and culture need to become regular customs'.  The City of Busselton's Corporate Plan also directs staff to ‘facilitate the acknowledgement of historic influences within the City of Busselton'.   

All of this culminated and was the genesis of CinefestOZ in 2008, a fantastic five days of culture in September with something for everyone including a special blend of French and Australian Films, visiting Director's Forum and Q & A sessions, school sessions, French Tasting Lunch at Cape Lodge and a special exhibition displaying artefacts, historical documents and charts of the exploration of Western Australia, under Captain Baudin (which was where this all started...)  The CinefestOZ Board, made up of local community members and businesses, local staff and 300 volunteers are preparing for the 12th festival in 2019

In a cultural planning sense, CinefestOZ is a shining example, incorporating a range of sustainable outcomes including economic (an important off season tourism event), business, education with the Cinesnaps school program and of course culture. The City of Busselton Council is proud to support such an outstanding community initiative.

 Dates for 2019: 28th August - 1st September


More information can be found at