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Byron Shire
February 26, 2021

Interview with Bronwyn Kidd, Flickerfest Festival Director

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Still from The Misadventures of the Stone Lady screening at Flickerfest at Mullumbimby Civic Hall 30 Jan – 1 Feb


Mullumbimby Civic Hall
Thu 30 Jan: 7pm opening night party | 8pm Best Of International Shorts, $25/22
Fri 31 Jan: 7pm doors open | 8pm Best Of Australian Shorts, $16/14
Sat 1 Feb: 3pm doors open | 4pm Byron All Shorts, $14/12
Sat 1 Feb: 7pm doors open | 8pm Shorts Laughs Comedy, $16/14
Season Pass: $55/$45

Flickerfest returns to the Northern Rivers, from Thursday 30 January to Sat 1 February for its 22nd 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 Festival Director
Bronwyn Kidd.

FlickerFest is returning to Byron for its 22nd 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?

It’s always really exciting to bring Flickerfest back to our hometown of Mullumbimby and for us to share the films with our local audiences. Our teamwork all year, based in our offices at Mullumbimby Railway station, reaching out from here across the whole world to bring the best short films home to local audiences. I’ve been festival director now since 1997, so celebrating 23 years and the festival is celebrating 29. Way back in 1997 I took over the festival, inheriting a 16mm projector, a screen and a lot of passion for sharing short films, at a time in Australia where a short film festival was a novel thing and there were virtually no avenues to celebrate shorts. Flickerfest has certainly grown exponentially since then and I’m really pleased with the profile and reach that Flickerfest has achieved for short films across Australia.

What’s the festival going to look like this year? Any big changes or modifications?

Flickerfest received over 3500 entries this year – a record for us – so we have had an exceptional field from which to choose our final 200 films screening in competition at Bondi. From there we have curated an amazing highlights program of Australian, international and comedy shorts – a best of the best of the fest, which will take our Northern Rivers audiences on an amazing journey of fresh, soulful, moving and creative shorts, that we hope our local audiences will love as much as we do. We have four big sessions on offer, including highlights from our Academy Qualifying Australian and international competitions, hilarious comedy showcases and our incredible Byron All Shorts local competition, featuring films in competition from across the Northern Rivers. Our opening night pre-screening drinks celebrate our festival weekend with a bang, and there will be some fabulous entertainment before the films screen, so it should be a wonderful night. We are so looking forward to bringing Flickerfest home to Mullum again this year!

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?

3500 short films is certainly a lot to consider when programming a festival like Flickerfest. As we are Academy Qualifying and BAFTA recognised we are at the top of the list for where filmmakers would like their film to be selected, and this year we received entries from over 100 countries. Thankfully we have around 50 passionate and dedicated film selection committee members who begin watching film entries in June when they start rolling in, and this task takes many months. It’s always super exciting when we have the final program done and can then share these incredible short films with our Australian audiences. Fresh, innovative, unique, and entertaining films that touch your heart and make you look at the world in a new way is what we are looking for, and the more authentic storytelling definitely rises to the top.

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

There are some classic shorts that will forever stay in my memory, and I think these have been Flickerfest audience favourites as well. Julian – a delicious comedy depicting Julian Assange as a naughty child is an all time favourite, David Michôd’s Crossbow and Nash Edgerton’s Spider are standouts as well. Rachel Griffiths’ beautiful and heartwarming film starring the legendary Bud Tingwell is another classic short, whilst this years’ Chicken – soon screening in Mullumbimby, is super funny, and a new favourite of mine.

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?

I think we make some of the best short films in the world in Australia, with storytelling and craft amongst the best in the world, so we certainly punch above our weight.

Europe has a long cinema tradition and a lot of European films certainly come our way each year, and a lot from the US and the UK – these regions produce the most each year. I’m super interested though, in representing a diversity of cultures, and very happy to be touring a standout award-winning Iranian film, Tattoo – on women’s rights – from our international competition at Flickerfest Mullumbimby.

Flickerfest is at the Mullum Civic Hall, 30 Jan–1 Feb. Tix and program on flickerfest.com.au

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