CinefestOZ has taken a giant step towards joining the film festival big league by offering $100,000 for the best new Australian film premiered at the Busselton-based event.
It will be the richest prize given by an Australian film festival and one of the biggest awards of its kind in the world.
By comparison, the Toronto International Film Festival, widely regarded as the world's biggest, offers a $30,000 prize for the best Canadian film, and the purse at Sundance is $20,0000.
The award means CinefestOZ will become even more attractive to producers, many of whom will now hold their films back from more established festivals on the east coast for a shot at the award that has been dubbed The Oz.
Australian actor, director and CinefestOZ patron David Wenham believes that financing movies is still a major challenge for Australian filmmakers and that such a lucrative prize will make Busselton a magnet for the industry.
"This prize goes a long way to encourage excellence in Australian filmmaking and support the nation's vibrant industry," he said.
The prize is the result of years of lobbying by the CinefestOZ volunteer board to convince the State Government of the significance of a country-based film festival to the cultural life of WA and the role it can play in luring tourists to the South West.
"The prize is about recognising great Australian film and people who work to bring these films to our screens," CinifestOZ chairman David Barton said.