Documentary Film Festival Secrets & Strategies – OzDox July 2014

Documentary Film Festival Secrets & Strategies – OzDox July 2014

An exciting and informative OzDox session exploring the BEST FILM FESTIVAL STRATEGY with Jenny Neighbour (Programs Manager, Documentary Programmer, Sydney Film Festival), Matt Ravier (director, Possible Worlds Festival of American and Canadian Cinema), David Rokach (director of the Antenna Documentary Film Festival) & Dale Fairbairn (Marketing Manager, Industry & Markets, Screen Australia).

This discussion delves into why festivals matter, the multitude of release strategies to consider for your doco, taking into account your goals for festival release, when to submit, which festivals to apply for and in what order, making the most out of festivals (and their markets), attracting distributors and when they should become involved in the film, specialty film festivals, using resources at hand and what not to do. 

Moderated by Pat Fiske and Julia Overton.


Jenny Neighbour was born and raised in England. She studied film and fine arts at University of London’s Goldsmith College. After working in arts administration at the Greater London Council, she emigrated to Australia in 1987. On arrival in Sydney she was employed as an exhibition organiser, working on Australia’s bicentennial projects, before joining the Sydney Film Festival in 1989. Jenny’s initial responsibility at the Festival was the administration of the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films and the Festival’s selection procedures. She then moved into programming, beginning with retrospectives. For several years, she has programmed the festival’s documentary and short film strands.

Mathieu Ravier is originally from France but has lived in San Francisco, Tokyo, Paris, Toronto, Hong Kong and Manchester. Matt was the artistic director of the Commonwealth Film Festival in the UK before starting non-profit company The Festivalists in Sydney 2005. He is the programmer of the Sydney Film Festival Hub and Possible Worlds, the 9th US & Canadian Film Festival. He has visited many of the world’s top film festivals and helped filmmakers and sales agents design strategies to make the most of the festival circuit.

David Rokach completed his degree in Philosophy and Cinema at Tel Aviv University. Before coming to Sydney, he worked with various film festivals, including the Doc-Aviv International Documentary Festival (2003–2007). In 2008, he moved to Sydney and established Antenna International Documentary Film Festival. Recently David has been invited to serve as a panellist and jury-member at major festivals such as Valladolid International Film Festival (Spain), the European Film Market, Berlinale (Germany), ATOM award and Revelation Perth International Film Festival. Antenna showcases some of the most innovative contemporary documentaries from Australia and around the world.

Dale Fairbairn is Marketing Manager: Industry & Markets at Screen Australia. She manages Screen Australia’s funding programs for international market support, which assists Australian filmmakers to maximise strategic international screenings of new titles as well as provide support for new projects being introduced to the market. Dale also manages Australian visits of key international festival selectors as well as manages Screen Australia’s funding of Australian film festivals and special events. Dale comes from a feature film, television and short film production background, with considerable arts event and festival management experience.

Julia Overton has had a long career in the screen and cultural production industry in Australia and internationally across all story-telling genres.  She was awarded the Stanley Hawes Award in 2012.  Her films have won numerous awards. Julia’s recent credits include the theatrical documentaries THE LAST IMPRESARIO (London 2013, SFF 2014) RED OBSESSION (Berlin, Tribeca, Pusan, Best Doc 2014 AACTA ) and FROM THE BOTTOM OF THE LAKE for See-Saw Films (Hot Docs 2014) and this year’s Sydney Film Festival Doc Winner 35 LETTERS.  

Pat Fiske is an experienced director and producer. In 2001 she was awarded the prestigious Stanley Hawes Award for her outstanding contribution to the documentary industry in Australia. Pat was co-head of documentary at AFTRS from 2002-2008. Some of the films she has directed are the award-winning documentaries: Rocking the Foundations; Woolloomooloo; For All the World to See; Australia Daze, Following the Fenceline, Night Patrol and Larrikin Lad. She has produced Business Behind Bars, Selling Sickness, River of No Return, Scarlet Road and Love Marriage in Kabul. Love Marriage in Kabul recently won the audience award for best documentary at the Sydney Film Festival.  

OzDox is proudly supported by Australia Directors Guild, Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) and a large volunteer committee of veteran to emerging documentary filmmakers.

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