Australia’s first standalone international adventure film competition is coming to Port Fairy in Victoria. Tickets are now on sale for the weekend and the We Are Explorers crew is chomping at the bit to get down there!
From the 8th – 10th of November the cute coastal town of Port Fairy will be inundated with adventure frothers. With short film sessions, feature films, workshops and panel discussions, there’ll be no shortage of activities. The town’s also a renowned surf spot, located at the end of the Great Ocean Road, so you can make sure the journey’s as good as the destination.
We had a chat with Program Director Leon Morton to find out more:
Tim: Why did you to choose to host the festival in a single location instead of touring films?
Leon: By holding the festival in a single location we can get everyone in the same place at the same time! Our aim is to get adventurers, filmmakers, brands, organisations, and anyone else who is passionate about the outdoors, to come together for one weekend a year to get inspired, motivated and share meaningful stories.
So why Port Fairy?
Port Fairy’s a small town with a really big heart. It’s a vibrant surfing town with an active and passionate community, about 3-4 hours drive from Melbourne. There’s a heap of amazing outdoor things to do here; from surfing, to hiking, wildlife experiences, trail running and nearby rock climbing.
Port Fairy also has an incredibly supportive volunteer film society. In partnership with the local council and state government, they recently spent a heap of money renovating an old art deco community theatre. We’ve now got an amazing facility with world-class cinema projection systems.
How did the Port Fairy Adventure Film Festival come about?
It’s a long story but I’ll try and be brief!
A few years ago some friends and I attended a lot of overseas adventure film festivals with our documentary film, The Bikes of Wrath. We found ourselves being welcomed into tight knit adventure communities, and were surrounded by other people that shared our passion for living life and getting outdoors. It led to some really important and long lasting connections and it completely changed my perspective on what an adventure film festival experience could and should be.
At the same time, a lot of international filmmakers were asking us ‘What adventure film festival in Australia should I submit my film to?’, and we’d always have to answer ‘There isn’t one…’
They’d quickly respond with something like ‘That’s crazy, I’d love to come to Australia. You should start one!’ After hearing this over and over again, we thought we needed to make it happen. So far we’ve found that there’s a really strong appetite for this type of festival in Australia (we received 300+ film submissions in our first year) so we’re super excited to get cracking in November!
We’ve also received some amazing mentorship from our good friends at 5Point Adventure Film Festival in Colorado to ensure that our festival is sustainable long term (a special thanks to Executive Director Regna Jones and Program Director Meredith McKee).
What are you most excited for over the weekend?
Personally, I’m really excited for the short film programs. Each program is completely different and I love seeing audiences react and engage with the short film format, while the filmmakers are right there in the room watching. Adventure films are really unique in that audiences get so involved; they hoot, holler, laugh, cry and everything in between.
What’s been the biggest hurdle in setting up an event like this?
People often think of adventure films as slick highlight reels with testosterone-filled athletes. We really want to challenge that notion and change the perception of adventure films in Australia. We believe in films that share meaningful stories and have the power to drive positive change in our world.
We’ve worked really hard to curate a film festival which has something for everyone. At the core of our festival is our mission, ‘to get more people outdoors more often’, so we’re constantly looking for ways to make our festival as inclusive as possible.
You’ve just had a kid, did you go on a big adventure beforehand?
For the past while our focus has well and truly been on the festival, personal adventures included! My wife (Festival Director) and I recently drove across the US, from California to Wisconsin over the course of a couple of months visiting film festivals along the way. We camped in wild areas, stayed in small towns and soaked up some of the lesser travelled parts of the country – it was a really fulfilling adventure.
Beyond that, I’m really interested in microadventures – taking the time to properly explore and appreciate my own backyard. I think they’ll be particularly useful now I’ve got a young kid kicking around!
Get pumped for your trip to Port Fairy!