Winda Film Festival Returns With Inspiring Indigenous Films, Immersive Vr Innovations & Stellar Shorts


From epic survival thrillers to inspiring true stories and innovative shorts, the WINDA Film Festival returns for its fourth year from 21-24 November 2019 to celebrate trailblazing Indigenous filmmakers and share the universal stories of Indigenous nations

The 2019 Festival will screen six brand new full length features, five thought-provoking documentaries, as well as a witty Australian TV series and a jam-packed line-up of stellar shorts from 16 countries across the globe.

The Festival kicks off with The Sun Above Me Never Sets, winner of the Audience Choice Award for Best Film at the 2019 Moscow Film Festival. Directed by Lyubov Borisova and crewed entirely by Indigenous Sakhi people of Russia, the film is a moving exploration of isolation and chronicles the unlikely friendship between a young man and his suicidal elderly neighbour on a desolate island.

Closing the Festival is 2019 Sydney Film Festival favourite Vai, an empowering portmanteau film connecting 8 seemingly disparate stories that thread together one woman’s cultural journey through time. Beautifully shot over 7 Pacific countries, and played by a different Indigenous actress in each location, Vai is a delicate exploration of the environment, culture, community and the meaning of home.

“We’re thrilled to bring WINDA back for a fourth year,” said Festival Artistic Director Pauline Clague. “From thought provoking documentaries to dazzling depictions of Indigenous culture, this year’s program showcases powerful perspectives from cutting-edge Indigenous filmmakers across the globe.”

Additional program highlights include: Australian director Shirleen Campbell’s inspiring debut documentary Not Just Numbers, about a group of Indigenous women’s mission to stop family violence in their communities; and award-winning Russian producer Sardaana Savvina’s Kylyk Khomus: Cursed Harp, a surreal drama about a teacher whose world is turned upside down when her niece unexpectedly arrives on her doorstep after an accident.

The program also features a stellar selection of local and international shorts: from Australian director Michael Bonner’s What Do You See, the empowering story of a trans woman’s fight against constrictive stereotypes; to Ties That Bind (Sydney Film Festival: 2019), a powerful drama about a young Indigenous man’s experiences of police prejudice and turbulent family life; and Hinekura, a New Zealand coming of age story about a Maori girl’s transition from naïve child to protector of her people.

The Festival includes a series of scintillating special events: from a filmmaking masterclass with Vai producers Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton, about the impact of producing Vai across the Pacific to several immersive VR experiences traversing themes of language, country and Indigenous futurism; and a series of animated shorts

WINDA Film Festival is made possible in part by generous industry sponsors: UTS: Jumbunna Institute for Indigenous Education and Research, Create NSW, The NSW Government, NCIE TATU, Inner West Council, AFTRS, 33 Creative, UTS FASS and Centre for Social Justice and Inclusion, NITV and ICTV.


Date:   Friday 22 November – Tuesday 26 November, 2019
Location:  Event Cinemas George Street, 505/525 George Street, Sydney
VR: UTS Building 1, Foyer at Library Pod
Barangaroo Reserve, Towns Place, Barangaroo
Tickets: $40 Opening Night (incl. After Party); $15 Feature Films; $10 Shorts; $10 Documentaries
Location: Friday 22 November – Tuesday 26 November, 2019
Website: Further info available at:


The Festival’s opening night screening of The Sun above Me Never Sets will be attended by award-winning Russian director Lyubov Borisova and producer Sardaana Savvina. Audiences will be treated to another appearance by Sardaana at a special screening of her second film Kylyk Khomus: Cursed Harp.

Other acclaimed filmmaker guests include Canadian directors: Leo Award winner for Best Documentary Program or Series Marie Clements, who will introduce Red Snow and Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival winner for Best Canadian documentary Tasha Hubbard, who will introduce Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up

The Festival’s closing night film Vai, will be attended by its New Zealend producers Kerry Warkia and Kiel McNaughton, as well as several of the film’s talented international directors: Marina McCartney (Samoa), Matasila Freshwater (Solomon Islands), Becs Arahanga (Aotearoa) and Sharon Whippy (Fiji).



The Sun above Me Never Sets | 2019 | Russia | Australian Premiere | Director Lyubov Borisova’s acclaimed dramedy chronicling the unlikely friendship of a young man sent to work on a desolate island and his elderly neighbour who has lost his lust for life.

Red Snow | 2019 | Canada | Australian Premiere | A thrilling survival drama about a Gwich’in soldier from the Canadian Arctic who is caught in an ambush in Kandahar, Afghanistan. Alongside a local Pashtun family, he is forced to run for his life across treacherous terrain in order to escape death.

Sgaawaay K’Luna: Edge of Knife | 2018 | Canada | A historical drama chronicling a man’s descent into madness after he accidentally kills his best friend’s son.

Vai | 2019 | New Zealand | A beautifully shot portmanteau portmanteau film connecting 8 seemingly disparate stories that thread together one woman’s cultural journey through time.

Restless River | 2019 | Canada | Australian Premiere | In northern Quebec, after World War 2, a young Inuk woman is raped by an American soldier from an army base near her village. Torn between two worlds by the birth of her blond-haired, blue-eyed son, she struggles to come to terms with the implications of his dual heritage.

Kylyk khomus: Cursed Harp | 2019 | Russia | Australian Premiere | A surreal drama about a teacher whose world is turned upside down when her niece unexpectedly arrives on her doorstep after an accident.


Eating Up Easter | 2018 | Chile / USA | Australian Premiere | In a cinematic letter to his son, native Rapanui (Easter Island) filmmaker Sergio Mata’u Rapu explores the modern dilemma of their people, as they face the consequences of their rapidly developing home.

Iomramh an Chamino – The Camino Voyage | 2018 | Ireland | The inspiring 2500km journey of a writer, two musicians, an artist and a stonemason who embark on a modern day Celtic odyssey from Ireland to Spain, in a traditional boat of their own making.

Ushui, La Luna y El Trueno | 2019 | Colombia | Australian Premiere | A fascinating look into the spiritual practices of the Wiwa people of the Nevada Desert and how, through the use of cameras, the tribe aims to spread their ancient message of conservationism.

Nîpawistamâsowin: We Will Stand Up | 2019 | Canada | Australian Premiere | A powerful exploration of the shocking killing of Colton Bushie and his family’s pursuit of justice in the face of a legal system embedded in racial prejudice.

Not Just Numbers | 2019 | Australia |The inspirational story of a group of Indigenous Australian women’s mission to stop family violence in their communities. They are fighting to be seen, not just counted.


Robbie Hood | 2019 | Australia | A short-form comedy series about a charismatic thirteen-year-old misfit with a heart of gold, who skirts the law to right the wrongs he sees taking place in his community.


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