Film festival focuses on ability

A positive portrayal of a talented best friend who is vision impaired has won the prestigious 2016 Nova Focus on Ability Film Festival.

The film, by Ramon Samson, was chosen from 194 entries from 18 countries - the biggest year in the history of the awards.

The International Judges Choice Award went to Okuyo Joel Atiku Prynce, from Uganda, for his documentary Mr Ability.

Now in its eight year, the Focus on Ability Short Film Festival is presented by NOVA Employment. It asks filmmakers to focus on the ability of people with a disability and tell a story on film for the world to see.

Films are judged by a professional judging panel and an online voting process, with over $140,000 worth of cash and prizes up for grabs, thanks to the generosity of sponsors, including Kia.

NOVA Employment chief executive Martin Wren said he began the festival with a belief in the ability of people with disability, and the goal of bringing that belief to the world through the medium of film.

"I recognized the power of film to challenge people's fixed beliefs and perceptions about the lives and abilities of people with disability around the world," he said.

NOVA, together with actress Paula Duncan, known for both her success in the Australian film and television industry and passion for supporting people with disability, have worked tirelessly to bring the festival to the world.

Previous year's films have been both educational and inspirational and have been viewed in 168 countries and voted on by over 500,000 people.

"Feedback from people who have viewed the films has shown that these entries have the power to change attitudes and challenge perceptions," Martin said.

The festival culminates in a red carpet awards night with entrants having the chance see their films premiered on the big screen as well as the opportunity to have their film shown on national television after the Awards night.

Last year, ten films were screened on SBS and 60 films aired on Foxtel through Aurora TV, and the festival held additional screenings in New York, Melbourne, Adelaide and Auckland. Additional exciting screening opportunities are planned for the festival in 2017.

"The audience capacity is well over one million people and growing, providing unmatched exposure for up and coming filmmakers and for people with disability to bring their message to the world," Martin said.