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Byron Shire
March 3, 2021

Interview with Flickerfest director, Bronwyn Kidd

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Flickerfest puts Byron in the Picture

Mullumbimby Civic Hall | Friday 25- Sunday 27 Jan |  | $14-45

Flickerfest returns to the Northern Rivers from 25 till 27 January; this will be its 21st year of screening a smorgasbord of the best short films. The event that started 28 years ago at the Bondi Pavilion is still fronted by the same festival director, Bronwyn Kidd! She spoke with The Echo.

Flickerfest is returning to Byron for its 21st year this year. You have been with the festival from the very beginning.

Can you tell us how it all began: was it just a couple of mates dreaming about doing something fun one night or was it always your burning passion to put on a film festival?

Flickerfest began as 10 short films in the grounds of the Balmain high school in 1991. I was at uni studying filmmaking at the time and went along; I was super inspired, particularly by the international shorts, because there was no other place to see them in Australia then. Six years later I was sharing an office in Sydney with the founder Craig and took over Flickerfest from him. I was making films and loved independent filmmaking so it seemed like a natural progression, and now in my 21st year as festival director I remain just as passionate about independent films and really excited to share this latest program with audiences far and wide.

What’s the festival going to look like this year? Any big changes / modifications the Byron Shire fans can look forward to?

Once again Flickerfest will present a wonderful, eclectic range of short film tales from at home and abroad representing the best short films the world has to offer. Byron region fans can look forward to four fabulous programs including award-winning Australian, international, comedy, and local shorts all handpicked to be entertaining, creative, and inspiring.

We aren’t planning any changes but remain committed to sharing the best short films in the world at home in Mullumbimby.

Have you noticed any major themes in short-film production this year compared to previous years? Politically and socially 2018 was such an unusual and interesting year for so many people around the world; are the films you have selected reflecting these interesting times?

Short films, because they are so immediate and fresh, do reflect contemporary global themes and issues and we are certainly seeing lots of films on the refugee situation, particularly from Europe. Environmental themes and the #metoo movement also feature with films reflecting this from at home and around the world. Films screening across the festival do reflect these themes told interesting and new ways alongside universal themes of love, culture, connection, and social justice. The great thing about Flickerfest is the diversity of stories on offer. 

There must be so many films submitted to your festival. What goes into selecting the films you show? Do you have set criteria or do you choose films that leap out at you for their authenticity or individuality?

This year we had a record 2,700 entries and we have selected 180 in competition for our Oscar-qualifying and BAFTA-recognised competition, so to stand out in such a large volume of entries it’s important to be creative, authentic, and have a unique voice. 

You have seen so so many films over the years. Are there any that you remember, that still stand out to you above and beyond all the others? 

Definitely, but the great thing about Flickerfest is that every year I get to make new favourites and this year there are so many highlights for me. I love Magic Alps from Italy, a sweet refugee tale told from a totally new perspective, and Lil Bois from the Northern Territory, a weaving of traditional and contemporary Indigenous storytelling told for the first time in the Ngandi language. 

Which countries consistently produce quality short films? Is there one region you feel has a strong tradition of quality short film, somewhere local filmmakers can keep an eye on for inspiration? 

Europe is a huge short-filmmaking powerhouse with so much support there for culture and cinema, and of course the USA, but Australia always punches well above its weight and for the relatively small film industry we have here I believe we produce some of the best short films in the world. Each year I am always more and more impressed by the films we are making in the northern rivers region. Byron All Shorts local film competition has some amazing films screening this year! 

Do you have any suggestions, tips, pointers for aspiring filmmakers reading this, to help them along their way? In your opinion what makes a ‘festival-grade’ short film? As opposed to a not-festival-grade film? What criteria does your selecting body work from?

The key to any great filmmaking be it long or short is to tell an authentic story you are passionate about and gather the best, most skilled, craftspeople in all areas of the filmmaking process such as sound, cinematography, and acting to support you in making it happen. Spend as much time as you can in the script-making process as the key to a great film is always a great story and in the end determination and persistence are key; you cannot make it in the film industry without these qualities. 

Flickerfest is at Mullumbimby Civic Hall this Friday to Sunday.

Tix online at iQ.org.au or at the door.

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