Curated by Bronwyn Kidd, who now lives with her partner Shane Rennie – of Island Quarry Arts and Eco Centre, here in Byron Shire. The two of them have collaborated to build an impressive event that now, thanks to the effort of Rennie, tours to more than 50 locations around Australia.
‘Byron is the first leg of the 50-venue national tour,’ says Kidd, who credits her partner with the organisational genius of pulling off such an enormous feat of touring logistics. ‘There are touring partners in each location, relationships with councils and local media. It’s a huge credit to Shane’s passion for film and for getting short films into regional communities.’
Thanks to collaboration with iQ, Byron is the only Flickerfest event that has its own film competition – Byron All Shorts.
‘We don’t do them anywhere else,’ says Bronwyn. ‘With Shane and me both living here it is important for us to support the local industry and for the last five years Byron All Shorts has been an integral part of Flickerfest here. It’s wonderful to see stories being made here and of course that part of the event is a fundraiser for iQ, the arts and eco centre on Ewingsdale Road. For nearly two decades now Shane has been working on regenerating a degraded site and a unique community arts and eco asset.’
Some of the local shorts include Knitting Nannas. ‘The film is focused on the women in the CSG battle, and the knitting and their camaraderie. These are women who did a lot of the CSG protests. It’s a unique and creative approach to the whole community protest against coal seam gas and it’s the world premiere of that film.’
Kidd has been at the helm of Flickerfest for 16 years, and her passion seems to grow each year.
‘I think the biggest thing for me is seeing the films coming through. If I weren’t passionate about films and independent films then I wouldn’t be doing it. To see things that are coming through that aren’t homogenised is really exciting.
‘Short-filmmakers are engaged and passionate about telling stories outside the mainstream and you are seeing things that are immediate. They haven’t had to wait seven years to get a script up or to get funding.’
Consequently the subject matter of Flickerfest is as diverse as the presentation.
‘We have films this year such as The Fence, which focuses on the Villawood Detention Centre, which was a hostel in the 90s where people could come and go, and all of a sudden our whole approach to asylum seekers changed. It is beautiful and moving, and stars a whole lot of Cambodian actors. Getting a feature up on that subject would be impossible.
‘I love that there are still filmmakers out there who are passionate about making these movies – there is a range of countries represented; being an Academy-accredited competition we are really engaged with the world – so you know we have films from Iceland or a Danish film set in Mali, or a French-Chinese co production set in Nepal… ’
The calibre of this year’s program is undeniable, with several films screening at some of the world’s most prominent and revered film festivals including Sundance and Cannes.
Highlights of Flickerfest 2014 Bangalow include the Australian premieres of the very moving and intimate short The Phone Call starring Golden Globe winner Sally Hawkins and Oscar winner Jim Broadbent, and Vote Yes starring Miranda Tapsell from The Sapphires, set in May, 1967, and focusing on Australia’s referendum on Aboriginal rights, as two women unite and come to terms with the prospect of change.
‘We received this year more than 2,200 entries internationally and across the world. It’s a wall of film – I narrow it down to 116; I watch about 800 of those films. I have a selection committee that helps weed them out and from there we put together and watch the recommendations. There is lots of handpicking – and putting together a program that represents the most innovative fresh new stories and discovering stories that aren’t cliche and that have something unique and look at the world in a different way.
‘It’s all about discovering talent,’ says Kidd, ‘and over the years that’s one of the things that keeps happening with Flickerfest. We’ve come across the work of people such as David Michod, who did Animal Kingdom, Wayne Blair who did The Sapphires, Kate Shortland who did Lore.
‘This year for me The Fence is one of those that I found moving. The Chuck In also; Jon Bell from Casino, local Bundjalung man, has made a great comedy – so often I think people are used to Indigenous films being earnest and politically driven. He wrote The Gods of Wheat Street, which was shot up here; he is a real talent.’
The Flickerfest Bangalow festival will kick off with a glamorous fully catered opening night party and screening.
Flickerfest Bangalow is presented by iQ Arts and Eco Centre as a fundraiser for this local community facility info/program www.iQ.org.au.
Tickets can be pre-purchased at Barebones (Bangalow), Mullum Bookstore and Planet Corroboree in Byron Bay.