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CinefestOZ - Save Your Legs: Stephen Curry and Brendan Cowell

Last year, it scored a real coup by premiering Red Dog before the true WA tale become one of Australia's most loved and highest grossing films of all time.

This year, organisers of the WA film festival CinefestOz hope another charming true story will draw film lovers to their idyllic Busselton- based festival before it goes on to greatness.

Save Your Legs! is a comedy/bromance inspired by a D-grade cricket team's memorable real-life tour of India in 2001. It stars Stephen Curry (The Cup) and Brendan Cowell. Both Cowell and producer Nick Batzias - one of the original team members - will attend the gala premiere at CinefestOz.

"It's a fabulous coup for us," said CinefestOz's director of films Helen Shervington.

"It will be just the second screening of it in Australia after it opens at the Melbourne International Film Festival this week. It's one of the films we have from our ongoing relationship with them, and we're very excited to have Nick and Brendan attending."

The coming-of-age cricket comedy will be one of many films to have its Australian or WA premiere at the five-day festival, which celebrates both Australian and French films in recognition of the South West's early French explorers.

Award-winning French comedy The Intouchables will get its WA premiere at CinefestOz, where it will screen on the opening night along with Australian film 33 Postcards, starring Guy Pearce.

The Intouchables, starring Francois Cluzet, Omar Sy and Audrey Fleurot, is based on a true story of the friendship between a handicapped millionaire and his street-smart ex-con caretaker.

In 33 Postcards, which also stars Claudia Karvan and Rhys Muldoon, Pearce plays the sponsor of a Chinese orphan who, aged 16, turns up in Australia expecting the idyllic life Pearce depicted in his postcards.

Initially mismatched and disconnected, the two begin a journey in search of belonging, family, redemption, love and acceptance.

The full program for CinefestOz will be unveiled on Saturday.

Shervington is excited about the 1960s-set musical The Sapphires, which is based on the true story of four singing Aboriginal sisters who entertained the troops during the Vietnam War. There's the tween adventure film The Dragon Pearl, starring Sam Neill, the gripping hostage drama Last Dance, and the inventively gory horror flick 100 Bloody Acres, which gives new meaning to organic farming.

"A film like 100 Bloody Acres will attract the youth audience and certainly get people talking," Shervington squirmed.

On the French side, Shervington has deliberately programmed films set in France's famous wine regions.

"You Will Be My Son is a family drama set in an older winery in the Bordeaux region, and Sideway is a beautiful romance set in Corsica. It will make us all want to head off there. These are all really appropriate films for a festival in the Margaret River region."

"I think we've got a great line-up this year, and, as always, we've got the perfect destination for a film festival. People can have a little holiday in the Margaret River wine region and see some great new films with us. We also utilise all the great produce from the area for our premieres and events."

Indeed, WA's South West region was chosen by Lonely Planet as one of the world's top 10 travel destinations and makes for an idyllic destination for a weekend escape full of great food, wine and films.

"It's going to be so much fun," agreed rising WA star Sean Keenan, who plays the festival's Cirque de Soleil-style mascot The Trickster and will attend as one of its special guests.

"I'm really keen to go and see the films and meet all the actors and directors who'll be there. It will be a great experience."

Keenan, who played Lockie Leonard in the TV series based on Tim Winton's books, will rub shoulders with luminaries such as actor David Wenham (Killing Time) and an as-yet-unnamed screen legend who is scoping a big project in the US (past winners include Wenham, Fred Schepisi and Steve Bisley). Many writers, directors and producers behind the films on show will also attend and take part in several workshops and investment seminars.

Keenan, who was chosen to play CinefestOz's mascot as he's a Busselton lad made good, is keen to return to his home town after starring in the new TV series Puberty Blues, which premieres on Ten on August 15.

"We finished filming about three months ago and it was so much fun," the 19 year-old enthused.

"I play one of the male leads, a young guy who goes out with the main character Debbie, and I got to do a lot of surfing, which I love. It was a great part to do and it was great to work with actors like Claudia Karvan, Rodger Corser and Susie Porter."

Fans will be able to meet Keenan and other actors at the relaxed, friendly film festival, which continues to grow in strength and numbers.

"Our attendance numbers have gone up by 50 to 100 per cent each year," Shervington said. "We have so much happening this year, and we know there's such a build-up about the festival that we feel very confident we'll break all records this year."

The West Australian

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