Australia’s leading Academy-accredited short-film festival turns 25 this year and, after its premiere at the Bondi Pavilion, makes its first stop on the 50-plus-date tour to Mullumbimby. The Echo spoke with festival director Bronwyn Kidd about this iconic event.
What are the challenges in mounting an event such as Flickerfest?
Always in the arts, arts versus commerce is the biggest challenge and it becomes harder every year to stay true to our vision of independent cinema. Like all arts organisations in an era where there is a multitude of film festivals and events on each week I guess remaining unique and committed to our vision of presenting truly spectacular shorts is one of our biggest challenges. Some of our challenges are in fact in part owing to the festival’s ongoing growth, which is all very positive! With the growth of the festival we get more and more entries to view each year – almost 2,500 for this year’s festival – so getting through the sheer volume of entries to select our world-class competition takes many, many months and loads of manpower from our 50-person-strong industry selection committee! The ongoing growth of Flickerfest’s national tour to 53 venues Australiawide this year also means a lot of effort from a very small team to bring the festival to the far reaches of Australia and we are very much looking forward to bringing the films to our home town of Mullumbimby this year.
Are short films like the green frogs? How is the quality and innovation indicative of the health of the overall industry?
Short film is the most innovative, creative and independent part of our industry and I’m pleased to say that again this year I’ve seen some remarkably inspiring and heartfelt work that I’m thrilled to share with our audiences. Short film should be free from the commercial concerns of the feature-film industry and I’m really glad that at Flickerfest we can show radical, remarkable and inspiring work that makes us all look at the world in a different way. For me short film is the most exciting place to be in the world of cinema today.
What does it say about the Australian film industry at the moment?
The quality of stories and production values we have seen in this year’s entries and screening across our Flickerfest tour to Mullumbimby is exceptional and points to the fact that the future of our Australian film industry is in very good hands. Being a platform for this sector of the industry where the main focus is independent stories made from passion and seeing so many talented filmmakers coming through again this year is a great sign that the short-film sector of our industry is thriving.
What about our local filmmaking – as indicated by submissions for the Byron All Shorts?
I’m really super impressed. Shane Rennie, iQ general manager and Flickerfest tour manager extraordinaire, has been organising Byron All Shorts for the past 11 years alongside our Flickerfest screenings and the quality of the shorts just gets better and better each year. Over the years at Byron All Shorts we have seen the overall quality and volume of entries go from strength to strength, which indicates that we have a very strong film industry growing well in our region. I know that audiences will love all of our local short films on offer as part of the Byron All Shorts competition this year and it’s great to see such a rich representation of our local life being produced here.
What criteria do you use when selecting films?
Entertaining is always our first criteria. And we are always looking for fresh, unique stories that are well crafted and have something new to say that will resonate with audiences. Something that engages you! Short film is also very much about being a platform for new talent so we are looking for filmmakers whom we want to encourage, and bring to the attention of audiences, filmmakers whom we believe will be the future of our industry.
What is the key to a powerful short film?
Great script, good acting, good overall production and a unique world view combined with a contemporary and unique story.
In your opinion what are the standout films in Flickerfest this year?
As usual there are so many to choose from and in Mullumbimby we are screening a highlights program, so it’s a best of the best of the festival in Sydney that we have chosen to showcase. I love the humorous and delightful locally produced indigenous drama NAN AND A WHOLE LOT OF TROUBLE, and we are very much looking forward to the northern rivers premiere. Australian animator and Oscar winner Adam Elliot’s new short Ernie Biscuit is also warm and uplifting and I’m a great fan of his work. In the international section Oh Be Joyful from the UK, a tale of love, family and acceptance, was a huge favourite at our Bondi fest and Indigenous comedy Nulla Nulla starring actor Wayne Blair is a fun and fresh look at culture that I’m sure people will love. And of course in Byron All Shorts there are so many amazing local films to choose from and I think people will be suitably impressed by all the great films from our local area this year.
Why did you choose to move from the Bangalow A&I Hall to Mullum Civic Hall?
We’ve loved being at Bangalow for the past 13 years but living just outside Mullumbimby ourselves we really wanted to screen close to home. We really like the Mullumbimby Civic Hall and certainly the air-conditioning was a big plus for our steamy summer weather, and being in the cool to enjoy some quality cinema is going to be great.
What should people expect from this year’s Flickerfest?
A wonderful smorgasbord of amazing shorts and an incredible trip around the world, Australia and the northern rivers on the big screen. I hope that our films will make people laugh, be moved and also inspired by some of the most talented film makers the world has to offer. The iQ Hot Shorts kitchen will be a great place to hang out with like-minded lovers of independent art and film over the weekend. We are also kicking off with a stellar fully catered opening night of the festival, which includes sponsored drinks including Rosnay Organic wine, Little Creatures Brewing, VodkaO and some yummy Greek-inspired food from Fat Belly Kaf at Brunswick. May the festival begin!
Friday to Sunday at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall. For more ticketing, program and session information go to iq.org.au.