This weekend sees Australia’s only Academy-accredited and BAFTA-recognised short-film festival come to Bangalow A&I Hall as the first stop on its national tour. Festival director Bronwyn Kidd talks about the event 24 years on.
What was the original inspiration for putting Flickerfest together?
Flickerfest is very much a celebration of amazing short films from Australia and around the world. Way back 24 years ago, when Flickerfest was born, there were very few places in Australian to view great short films or for filmmakers to show their work, so Flickerfest was born out of a passion for independent short film and sharing this culture in the Australian cinema landscape.
How has it changed or evolved since its inception?
Way back in the beginning Flickerfest screened eight short films in the grounds of Balmain High School then moved a few years later to its home at the Bondi Pavilion in Sydney. Since the beginning in 1991 when Flickerfest received around 150 entries and had two touring venues – one being Byron Bay! Flickerfest has grown astronomically to now receive more than 2,300 entries for our Academy-accredited and BAFTA-recognised competition and tour highlights of our 10-day Bondi fest to more than 50 venues nationwide and overseas to Bali each year.
How has being Academy accredited changed the films or the perception of FF?
Certainly it’s meant a lot more entries received each year and a lot more profile on the world stage from filmmakers and film industry organisations. Filmmakers look to festivals to enter their films in that have a certain global reputation and standard of programming so being Academy accredited across four awards at Flickerfest has certainly given us a huge stamp of approval and great international profile a lot more entries to view each year.
As a director what are the major challenges you face each year?
Like all arts organisations in an era where there is a multitude of film festival and events on each week, I guess remaining unique and committed to our vision of presenting truly spectacular shorts is one of my biggest challenges. When it comes to the arts versus commerce debate, it’s always difficult to not be swayed to be more commercial and only show shorts that won’t challenge or be controversial, but Flickerfest has survived so far through our commitment to passionate creative shorts and to believing that audiences want to see work that both entertains, inspires and gets them to see the world in a different way.
With a massive national tour schedule, when do you start sourcing new films for upcoming events?
Our tour finishes up north in Cairns in May, but even though we are touring for five months of the year we are pretty much looking for shorts all year round and sourcing the films from festivals all across the world. With so many thousands of entries to get through to put the final program together which takes many, many months to view, selecting the films is pretty much a year-round task!
What are the highlights of this year’s festival? What are your favourite foreign films? Your fave Aussie film?
Ahh, there’re so many as once again we received an exceptional standard of entries again and there’s so many great films across the programm screening in Byron. If I were to choose just a few across the many I would have to say Boogaloo & Graham – from Northern Ireland, set in 1970s Belfast, where two young boys discover the facts of life aided by the help of their pet chickens. Which has just been nominated for the 2015 Oscar for Live Action Short Film.
The quirky and intimate Oh Lucy from Japan starring Setsuko, a 55-year-old single ‘office lady’ in Tokyo, who is given a blond wig and a new identity, ‘Lucy’, by her young unconventional English instructor. ‘Lucy’ awakens desires Setsuko never knew she had. The film was officially selected for Cannes.
In The Australian program I love The witty Bush Mechanics, which tells the story of four young Warlpiri men on a journey to visit a powerful elder living at a remote outstation. As they drive across the red dirt roads of the central Australian desert they must overcome mechanical mishaps and the trickery of a mischievous Munga Munga spirit.
And the Hilarious Florence Has Left The Building. It’s the Christmas eve concert at the Marigold House Assisted Living Facility. All her friends are dying and Florence wants out. When the facility double-books two rival Elvis impersonators, Florence take the opportunity for one last hurrah. Starring a very unrecognisable Jacki Weaver.
And the Virgin Australian Award winner for Best Australian Short Film: Grey Bull is also a standout. It’s about Martin, a South Sudanese refugee who happens upon a bull whom he believes is his spiritual totem. He decides to rescue it from the abattoir he works in.
What about the quality of local submissions?
I’m really super impressed. Shane Rennie, IQ general manager and Flickerfest tour manager extraordinaire, has been organising Byron All Shorts for the past 10 years alongside our Flickerfest screenings and the quality of the shorts just gets better and better each year. I’ve seen all the shorts in this year’s program and I’m suitably impressed and really looking forward to screening them in front of local audiences!
As a local resident and filmmaker myself I’m always really excited to see local stories on screen and to see our local industry growing and thriving. There’s certainly some really amazing storytellers here!
What should locals expect for the screenings this coming weekend?
A wonderful smorgasbord of amazing shorts and an incredible trip around the world, Australian and locally on the big screen with films that will make people both laugh and be moved and inspired by some of the most talented filmmakers the world has to offer. I’m really excited about the program and can’t wait to share Flickerfest again this year in my hometown. It’s always a great atmosphere at the A&I Hall, Bangalow, and the IQ kitchen over the weekend makes it a great place to hang out among like-minded lovers of independent art and film! We are also kicking off with a stellar fully catered opening night with sponsored drinks including Rosnay Organic wine, Little Creatures Brewing, VodkaO and some yummy Greek-inspired food from Fat Belly Kaf, Brunswick!
Bangalow A&I Hall this Friday–Sunday.