An Illawarra filmmaker claims the region needs to bolster its film community and showcase homegrown talent.

Director Mitchell McArdle will enter short film, ‘Absence’, in the Sydney Film Festival. Mr McArdle said Wollongong is not known for its filmmaking, and hopes the local production will help raise the profile of the local industry and the talented people in its ranks.

“Wollongong is a city that prides itself on being artsy or cultural, and you would imagine there would be a film element, but there isn’t. Not yet,” Mr McArdle said. The young director said there is a bigger, nationwide, issue.

“I think the biggest problem — not just Wollongong itself, but the Australian film industry in general. We as consumers; we don’t hear what is going on. There are numerous Australian films that get released every year, but we never hear of them,” he said.

‘Absence’ was shot in Wollongong, a city known known for its arts culture  – championed by the Illawarra Performing Arts Center (IPAC).

“The Illawarra has a vibrant and rich culture producing great theatre and has a strong foundation for those seeking to shift into the profession,” IPAC Drama Studio director Fiona Finley said.

Mr McArdle said the ‘Absence’ crew admired the Sydney Film Festival and its vision to show Australian films to a larger audience.

“A lot of film festivals cater to a specific type of film. We want to branch out to a more open film festival. I feel the story we have put together can be understood by a lot of cultures. So we’re looking at Sydney Film Festival,” he said.

The soon-to-be JMC Academy graduates are in post-production and are aiming to complete the film in January. The Sydney Film Festival runs 7-18 June 2017.