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The Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival’s response to the Covid-19 crisis was to be the first in Australia to go totally online and free, making it available for Australians anywhere around the nation from Friday 1st to Sunday 17th May. “The response has been phenomenal,” says Festival Director, Owen Tilbury. “Over 17 days we’ve had over 27,000 views from every state and territory!”

Tassie films Rogue Waves, about Hobart ‘s Mick Lawrence life and philosophy plus short films called Women of the Island were a hit and showcased the beauty and stories of Tasmania. Of the other 17 films from 14 different countries the favourites were Okavango: River of Dreams, Adam, Veins of the World, Delfin and Malcolm.

STILL ONLINE are the short films called Women of the Island, recordings of BOFA’s popular Zoom CONVERSATIONS with a panel made up of film makers and subject experts to discuss issues like bushfires, wine making, renewable energy and people making a difference , and  the online Cinematic Art Exhibition.

Next year’s challenge will be to keep the benefits of the online festival but bring back the face to face community aspects that have been a feature of past festivals. Stay tuned!

Here’s how audiences reacted to the online festival:

  • BOFA opened up the world when everything else seemed to be closing in. Open at all hours, it allowed you to choose what suited at any time on any day.
  • Fantastic program – best film festival I’ve been to, on-line or anywhere else.  I can hardly believe it took me to so many different, interesting, colourful, challenging, beautiful places and brought me into contact with so many inspiring, admirable and likeable people. It has been a highlight of lockdown.
  • I have been to the vineyards in Burgundy, the plains in Mongolia, the delta in  Botswana , the Fjords of Greenland and heart tugging stories from Nepal, Hungary, and our own backyard in Tasmania.
  • The films make us appreciate our own country so much more, despite the current problems. If they can make it through these situations, what right have we to complain of an unknown future?  A Breath of Fresh Air for us all.

Many thanks to our wonderful government and corporate sponsors who stepped up so that the 2020 festival could be offered completely FREE. They include: Events TasmaniaCity of HobartCity of LauncestonUPC RenewablesLaunceston Film SocietyOptusMcArthur Financial,  Fermentasmania and Cityprom.


And the Winners are…

What a flood of Top 5 picks entries – and what heart-warming and insightful responses.  The 5 winners of  a premium pack of Tamar Valley Truffles products or a bottle of award winning 42degreeS wine are presented here with a brief excerpt from their entry:

1. Paul of Brisbane – Of all the presentations, Women of the Island probably impressed me the most …..I have always been impressed by women (!), but here we have them in their full glory: outspoken, gifted, creative, resilient, independent; If we needed any evidence for the saga that Tasmania is no backwater, then this is it, and these women are its protagonists.

2. Marsha of Melbourne – Your creative and generous response of making your festival available online for free was much appreciated…..Adam – A quiet, intimate film of great emotional depth. Beautifully composed and lit, well directed and acted. I appreciated the film’s feminist sensibility, sparse music and dialogue, and empathy for its characters.

3. Helen of Hobart – Expedition To the End of the World: Magnificent landscape, wrapped in an edgy, modern, relevant package. Captured the powerful environment without sentiment. Quirky, interesting, thoughtful conversations from the diverse group. Spot on now. yes!

4. Don of Launceston – My fave five remind us:That rogue waves in our lives should be expected and are not the exception. (Rogue Waves.) That nature always humbles and inspires us with her beauty, dignity and wildness. (Okavango.); That we have much to learn about managing the planet from the land’s original inhabitants . (Wilder than Wild.)

5. Valerie of Melbourne – Thank you for this brilliant initiative whilst we have been in lockdown….. ‘Of Horses and Men’. I’m still smiling when I think of its quirkiness. Hopefully fiction is stranger than fact! Veins of the World’. The macro meets the micro in a finely crafted tale of love and loss.

For the complete entries of the five winners go to

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“Many thanks to BOFA for all their generosity and care during our recent 40th Anniversary screening of My Brilliant Career. Mr Sam Neil and I had great fun, with inspiring films, fabulous audiences and wine and food. And I loved sleeping in a Silo looking out at the Tamar in lovely Lonnie. A perfect Filmmakers festival.” Gillian Armstrong, director, My Brilliant Career

“It is a very rare thing to find such an interesting, stimulating yet intimate festival in a gem of a town like Launceston..  I loved BOFA.” Sam Neill, My Brilliant Career

Gillian Armstrong and Sam Neill,BOFA 2019 guests





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BOFA Online film festival ran from Friday 1 - Sunday 17 May and still has some features online including  Women of the Island, recordings of BOFA’s popular Zoom CONVERSATIONS with a panel made up of film makers and subject experts to discuss issues like bushfires, wine making, renewable energy and people making a difference , and  the online Cinematic Art Exhibition.