New shire film festival focuses on ability - not disability

Focus of attention: Shanon Bates with Scott Morrison, Mayor Pesce and Councillors Carol Provan and Tom Croucher at the launch of the film festival. Picture: supplied
Focus of attention: Shanon Bates with Scott Morrison, Mayor Pesce and Councillors Carol Provan and Tom Croucher at the launch of the film festival. Picture: supplied

A new film festival to be held in Sutherland Shire will highlight the ability of people with a disability.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison launched the inaugural Shireability Film Festival, which Sutherland Shire Council is staging in December.

Well-known shire disability athlete and motivational speaker Shanon Bates said the council was "leading the way" with the concept.

Shireability Film Festival. Video Sutherland Shire Council

The festival will showcase entries to a competition that is open to film-makers of all ages.

Films must focus on ability and inclusion, feature locations and/or people in the shire and involve at least one person with a disability in the cast or crew.

The winner will receive $1500 and there will be four category awards and a People's Choice award, each with prize money of $500.

The festival will help mark International Day of People with Disability on December 3.

Finalists will have their films screened at an open-air event on the lawn at Hazelhurst Arts Centre on Sunday, December 1.

There will also be a screening for the wider community on International Day of People with Disability at GU Film House, Cronulla.

Mayor Carmelo Pesce said the film festival resulted from the council discussing ideas with shire residents with a disability, and also community organisations.

Cr Pesce said, in addition, he and several other councillors would meet members of the community with a disability, "so we can better understand their needs and challenges and make more informed decisions for the future."

Mr Bates, from Push the Limit, is a member of the council's Access Committee and has been working with other committee members and community support organisations on developing ideas to celebrate International Day of People with Disability in 2019.

"I've never seen a council do anything like this to mark the event," he said.

Entry to the film festival is free and open to all ages, with entrants under 18 years of age required to complete a permission form signed by their parent or guardian.