The event, which was established in 2014 as an initiative of Tutti Arts, is described as the first film festival in the Southern Hemisphere led by people with learning disabilities.
“First and foremost, the aim of the festival is to attract learning-disabled filmmakers from around the globe; to encourage, nurture and mentor them under the umbrella of Tutti Arts,” says Lee Witzcak, chairperson of the Sit Down, Shutup and Watch (SDSW) steering committee.
“This is in keeping with the ethos of Tutti, who consistently strive to create forums where people with learning disabilities can have their shot at professional careers within the Australian and international arts communities. It’s our aim, too.”
This year’s festival, to be held over a full day on October 21 at the Angaston Town Hall, will include more than 30 short films grouped in five categories: “Films that make us think”, “Films about relationships”, “Films that make us dance and sing”, “Films that make us smile”, and “A spooky film”.
Witzcak says the categories were dictated by the type of work currently being done by learning-disabled filmmakers, and encompassed a wide breadth of themes.
“There’s all the normal topics you would expect from a good film festival: great animations; films about the filmmakers – their lives and what is important to them.
“They each tell their story from a perspective that is unique. That is the real treasure in this festival. It will open up our audience to a new perspective, too.”
The program includes a film made in Ireland by AbleVision, a media production and training company for people with intellectual disabilities, as well as a selection of films created through SDSW workshops held in Mount Gambier, Renmark and Port Augusta.
“We have uncovered some really great filmmakers in those areas,” Witzcak says. “You’ll have to come to the festival to see what I mean.”
She describes the response to the 2016 festival as “brilliant”, with many of those who supported the first event excited to return to see this year’s showcase.
“Disability arts in Australia has a thriving community who embrace what we are doing.”
The Sit Down, Shutup and Watch Film & New Media Festival will be held from 10.30am on Friday, October 21, at the Angaston Town Hall in the Barossa Valley, with an awards presentation in the evening. On November 3, the Mercury Cinema in Adelaide will screen the Best of Fest featuring films from all award categories.
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