Women directors are taking Australia’s film scene by storm, apparent in the lineup for this weekend’s OzFlix film fest in Toronto.

The four-day event, Australia.com OzFlix: Australian Film Festival, runs from today to Monday, Feb. 16 and is sponsored by Tourism Australia.

And a surprising number of the films on tap, says festival director Eileen Arandiga, are directed by women; a growing trend in the land down under.

“Australia has been, and yes, probably is — I don’t like to admit it – at times quite a chauvinistic sort of society,” she said. “Men tend to work in film more than women; that’s just the reality.”

But Australia is one of those countries that has a real “can-do” attitude, she said.

“So I think that ethos has led to more and more women getting behind the camera, directing films, producing films, and not just doing the traditional role of being the actress,” she said.

One of those women is Elissa Down, director and screenwriter of opening-night film Black Balloon starring famous Aussie Toni Collette (Muriel’s Wedding).

It’s her first feature-length production and Down says the film is semi-autobiographical, based on her experiences growing up with two autistic brothers.

“We’ve had many films dealing with disabilities but it tends to either romanticize the disability or just focus on the person with the disability and I really wanted to show what it’s like to live with it day to day,” said Down from her home base in Los Angeles.

OzFlix is in its fourth year running and this year will showcase 12 films and documentaries, about half of which are directed by women including Cactus starring Bryan Brown (Cocktail) and the closing night film In Her Skin.

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