Flickerfest returns to the Northern Rivers
From 26 till 28 January for its 20th year, screening a smorgasbord of the best short films from the Byron region, Australia and the world, across one cinema-packed short-film weekend at the Mullumbimby Civic Hall. The Echo spoke with longtime Festival director Bronwyn Kidd.
What are the highlights of this year’s Flickerfest?
With more than 2,500 entries received for Flickerfest this year and only 110 films chosen in competition, we are thrilled again to be presenting the best of the best of creative, inspiring and contemporary films from the world’s and Australia’s most talented filmmakers and bringing highlights of the Bondi program to Mullumbimby! I love all of the films we are screening but if I have to choose favourites my standouts are the hilarious Canadian animation. An Imagined Conversation with Kanye West And Stephen Hawking for its humour and quirk; the dramatic and thought-provoking Wren Boys from Ireland, which explores the theme of gay marriage – very timely considering our recent historical Yes vote; the insightful Australian short Miro, which explores the return of an Indigenous soldier to Australia after serving in World War II; and the delightful and heartwarming Fern, about a woman who loses her husband but finds a potted plant.
Twenty-seven years on, what can you say about the quality of Australian short filmmaking?
I’m super impressed by the talent that exists in the short-film community in Australia. So many unique and diverse voices are coming through that I was not seeing before digital took over from 35mm, making film production more accessible to a much broader range of voices. More than 40 per cent of our films in the program this year are from female directors and there’s a much broader cultural mix in general, which makes the program so much richer.
What do you look for when you select a film?
I look for a fresh perspective and a moving, creative and inspirational story that all blend together seamlessly on the screen to create that magic of cinema where we are inspired to see the world in a different way.
What are the biggest mistakes people make when creating a short film? Meaning, what are the elements that end up making a potentially good film hit the No pile?
Poor acting, underdeveloped scripts and clichéd storytelling are the worst mistakes filmmakers make. Being original is the key to great storytelling and spending the time to develop an original story that you are passionate about always makes a film shine and stand out.
What are the challenges in running a short-film festival?
Festivals such as Flickerfest require an enormous amount of hard work and a dedicated team so this job is certainly not a nine-to-five one. Like all arts events, our biggest challenge is always the commercial versus culture dilemma and how to raise enough financial resources to maintain our festival at the world-class standard we now enjoy. I’m thankful we have some amazing partners who strongly support us in our vision of bring the best Australian and international shorts to audiences around the country and celebrate the very talented filmmakers who make them.
How has the Flickerfest tour built? Why do you think it’s important to take short films to regional centres?
The festival tour has grown enormously since it first started 21 years ago, owing both to the passion of audiences across Australia for seeing independent short films in their community and the dedication of our tour manager Shane Rennie, who is exceptionally community minded. Our team are very passionate about touring the films to regional audiences who would not otherwise get a chance to see such quality Australian and international shorts on the big screen. It’s always very satisfying to see the wonderful responses we get to the films each year across the country. I guess that’s why we’ve grown to deliver a 50+ venue national tour in 2018.
Why do you run a Byron Shorts? Do you do that anywhere else?
Byron All Shorts is Shane’s passion and I’m thrilled as a local that Flickerfest can support a northern rivers shorts competition alongside our tour program each year. Byron All Shorts is very much about growing the film industry here in the northern rivers and making it a sustainable and viable creative pursuit, while discovering and celebrating the unique talent that exists in the northern rivers. It’s always really exciting to see the talent coming through each year and the growth of the local film industry over the past ten years that Island Quarry have been presenting Byron All Shorts. We don’t run a local short-film competition alongside Flickerfest anywhere else in Australia so I’m thrilled that through Shane’s passion we can showcase and celebrate local filmmakers alongside Flickerfest in our home town.
What should we expect for this year’s Flickerfest?
Another great feast of amazing short films celebrating contemporary stories that resonate for our times with a smorgasboard of shorts from Australia, the northern rivers and across the globe, all encompassed in a wonderful community event that brings us all together. I’m really looking forward to it!