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Zimbabwe-born Canberra film enthusiast shares pivotal life moments in new festival

By Jessica Cordwell | Canberra Weekly

CANBERRA – That transitional time between teens and adulthood is a defining one where big decisions are made and relationships are formed; these choices can shape the rest of your life.

The Coming of Age Film Festival showcases the defining moments of that time with a collection of short films at Dendy Cinemas in Canberra on Friday 14 July.

Recently entering adulthood, the founder of the festival, Shé Chani, experienced a number of struggles during the transition and noticed some of his peers were going through the same.

Understanding that many people turn to the arts when they want to work through something, Mr Chani wanted to provide a platform for emerging filmmakers to share a story.

“I thought this would be a great opportunity to bring a bunch of young people together and show them that they are actually not alone in certain challenges that they may be going through as they as they grow up,” he says.

Through eight films ranging from three to nearly thirty minutes’ long, Aussie filmmakers capture that sense of transition from child to adult. Themes include a sense of belonging in a big wide world, mapping out a future, and experiencing unhealthy relationships while trying to figure out what new ones look like.

“Everyone goes through an experience in that sort of 18 to 25-ish range that either forms their world view or it helps them grow in some way, or it changes their life, or it’s a realisation that ‘Oh, this thing that I was going through in my childhood is not healthy and I need to work on it so my adulthood is better’.”

The festival founder says that coming of age is a universal experience, one that doesn’t leave you, and watching a film capturing it in some way is something we can all relate to. He says the transitions often happen again in life, like the midlife crisis, but they aren’t quite the same as the coming of age.

“I think the reason why the ones that occur in this sort of age group that stick with people so much, is just how formative they are. If you’ve ever talked to someone who’s taken a gap year for example, they will talk about it until they are in their 60s.”

Born in Zimbabwe, Mr Chani and his family moved to Dubbo NSW, wanting to raise children in a country town. Three years ago they made the move to Canberra. Mr Chani, a renewable systems engineering student, has always been a creative person, writing throughout his childhood and self-publishing his first book at age 16.

This love soon morphed into a love for film and capturing moments. The festival has been self-funded through his growing media business, Coming Of Age Media, and featured three films from Canberra creatives. Mr Chani says there is a lot of talent in the Australian film scene, something he hopes will continue to grow in the coming years.

“What it comes down to is, are there people watching them, are there people supporting these projects? And if we get people more aware of these projects and these film-makers then hopefully, with time, we can get more support and funding behind film projects in Australia.”

See moments that define lives at the Coming of Age Film Festival at Dendy Cinemas Canberra on 14 July 6pm;

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