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The Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air (BOFA) Film Festival is proudly Tasmania’s film festival. BOFA was the first major Australian film festival to go online in 2020.  In 2021 we will conduct another online film festival reaching film lovers nation-wide from 3 – 30 May.

This year we are inviting short filmmakers to explore what it means to be Tasmanian. What is unique and specific about Tasmanian culture? What can only happen here on this island.

The competition is supported by Tourism Tasmania http://www.discovertasmania.com.au and Brand Tasmania with prizes of $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 for the top three rated films. All shortlisted films will receive a year’s free subscription to Forty South  https://www.fortysouth.com.au/ the magazine for people who live in Tasmania, those who wish they lived here and those who wish they’d never left. Forty South will present ALL shortlisted films online (with your permission) to enhance your work’s exposure.


A little inspiration for entrants

It isn’t easy here. It never has been. People said it was impossible and for too long we believed it. This is why, for Tasmanians, good enough is never good enough. We work harder, we follow our obsessions, we support one another, and we protect what makes this place different.

Specifically, the short film entries will tell stories on either or both of the following themes:

1. Stories of Tasmania – In 2020 shorts of up to 10 minutes in length focussed on Women of the Island (https://breath-of-fresh-air.com.au/films/women-of-the-island/) and are a great role model (Note: these were not produced as part of a BOFA competition). In 2021 BOFA invites film makers to explore Tasmanian stories. Stories of our people – men and women, young and not so young. Stories of Tasmania and what it means to be Tasmanian.

The competition is an opportunity for film-makers to not only tell the story of individual people but also how they shaped the island’s history. Create a visual narrative that shows us their adventures, events they were part of, their interaction with the environment, their dreams, their nightmares!

The emphasis is on stories that go behind the scenery and dig that bit deeper.

2. Island of Ideas – We are also inviting film makers to tell us stories of Tasmanians with ideas, people who have gone outside the ordinary, people who have followed their passions and taken a risk, people who have collaborated to create something extraordinary, and people who have fought to protect what makes this place different.


Short films need to stand on their own merit and are not meant to be a direct tourism promotion of Tasmania, that is, they are not a destination film. The island is indeed beautiful but there is so much more to our people – why they choose to live here and what they do. The films need to explore Tasmania’s cultural brand, which is part of everything our people do, make and create.

Have a read of Brand Tasmania’s TASMANIAN website to learn more about the TASMANIAN brand.

The competition is open to Tasmanians and those living elsewhere but who love all things Tasmanian. Both those at the beginning of their careers and professional film makers are invited to enter and use film as a medium to respond to the brief creating their film’s story in any genre: fiction, documentary, animation, or a mixture of all genres. It can be happy or sad, funny or tragic, light or dark.

Films are to be from a minimum three to a maximum 20 minutes in length as this is both an easy-to-view duration and a way of powerfully distilling a story. A good example from a previous BOFA short film competition funded by Tourism Tasmania in 2011 is that year’s winner, The Grim Experience, https://vimeo.com/129201257.

Films can be new work, existing films or re-edits of existing shorts. Films must be submitted by the owners of the work or have permission from the owners. All entries remain the possession of their content creators. Submission of work is through https://filmfreeway.com/TasmanianBreathofFreshAirFilmFestival.  Stills from the films must be provided for promotional purposes. The deadline for submissions is Midnight Sunday 28th March, 2021

All shorts will be assessed by April 18th and the top 20 will be screened as part of the Tasmanian Breath of Fresh Air online film festival from 3 – 30 May. This will offer all  selected film-makers exposure to a national audience with around half the viewers from Tasmania and half from other states and territories. All selected films will receive laurels acknowledging their screening at the 2021 BOFA Online Film Festival.

All entries will be assessed and the top 20 shorts will be rated by a judging panel  based on:

  • Creative response to the brief.
  • Quality of script-writing.
  • Quality of cinematography and production values.

A People’s Choice of the top three short films will also be offered where the viewers can rate their preferred top three shorts.

An awards event will be held in Hobart on Saturday 29th May, 2021 at which the top three short films (and the People’s Choice winners) will be announced and their film-makers presented with their prizes. All film-makers who have submitted films will be invited to this free event.

Note: All selected films will be awarded a BOFA Film Festival laurel.

The 2021 Stories of Tasmania Short Film Competition Judges are:

Todd Babiak, CEO, Brand Tasmania
Todd Babiak has worked in places around the world – some big and some not so big. He’s worked with these places to build brand stories, turning each individual story into economic, social, and cultural development strategies. Of all the places around the world he has worked, he was most moved by the Tasmanian brand story relocating his family to the island in 2020. Todd works with his team at Brand Tasmania to help Tasmanians quietly pursue the extraordinary. Tasmanian.com.au

Martin Simpson, Filmmaker, Ompyx Communications
Sydney-based filmmaker, novelist, and doctor, Director/Writer, Martin Simpson has written, produced and directed a number of shorts and two award winning feature films . He is presently developing the unique thriller VOD streaming series, Skye High. He wrote and directed the multi award winning neo-noir thriller Indigo Lake (2018 London Independent Film Awards, Best Director; 2018 Los Angeles Film Awards, LAFA January Award). His hospital thriller Gene-X (2006) was invited to the London-Australian film festival.

His short film The MacGuffin of Love (2004) won several Action-Fest Awards. Another short, A Girl Like U (2011), premiered at the St Kilda Film Festival and screened in the Cannes Film Festival Court Metrage. His well reviewed novel, The Tattooed Arm, (2016) is a fictional retelling of the Sydney Shark-Arm murders of 1934.

Natalie Otte, Independent Filmmaker
Natalie was born in Germany and has worked in film there, in the UK and in Australia, residing now in Hobart. She has worked as a production coordinator, film distributor and production assistant in shorts such as Like a Butterfly, features such as animation Tehran Taboo (Semaine de la Critique, Cannes Film Festival 2017) and action/comedy The Mamba (Munich Film Festival), plus documentaries such as City of Sound (Filmfestival Max Ophüls Preis 2015, Best Feature Documentary).

She has worked with short film festivals and organisations including Short Film Agency Hamburg, International Short Film Festival Hamburg and Leeds International Film Festival.

Andrew Lowenthal, Co-founder, EngageMedia

Andrew Lowenthal is the co-founder and Executive Director of EngageMedia, an Asia-Pacific nonprofit working at the intersection of digital rights, open and secure technology, and social issue documentary. His work traverses nonprofit and inter-cultural leadership, video production and distribution, network building, research, software development, and social impact design. EngageMedia convenes the global Video4Change Network.

Andrew Lowenthal was born in Hobart and is currently an Associate at the University of Tasmania’s School of Creative Arts and Media. He was previously a Fellow at Harvard’s Film Studies Center and Berkman Center for Internet & Society, and MIT’s Open Documentary Lab. In 2015, he was a Ford Foundation JustFilms Fellow.

Tony Thorne, Director/Animator

Tony’s endearing character design and vivid sense of place for Little J & Big Cuz is the culmination of his rich and diverse experience as an animation director, illustrator, visual artist,  and comic book illustrator. Tony is Trawlwoollway from the north east of Tasmania. He spent a decade working in CG animation on films like Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, District 9 and Happy Feet II.

Little J & Big Cuz is the first contemporary indigenous kids cartoon in Australia. Tony has spent the last five years as its key creative. The show has a production team that is partly based in Tasmania and coordinated nationally. Little J & Big Cuz is made for NITV and also airs on ABC KIDS.