The Flickerfest Short Film festival is one of the most unique of its kind. It begun in 1991 as a small festival supporting local filmmakers, initially exhibited at Balmain High School. A few years later it moved to a bigger host venue, the famous Bondi Beach Pavilion in Sydney. Now, in its 24th year, Flickerfest has expanded to a 4 month long celebration of film. For one night only, a city or a small country town has the opportunity to watch a selection of some of the best Australian and International short films. Like a travelling circus, it travels from place to place, exhibiting films that many small country towns might not normally get to see.
Flickerfest is Australia’s only Academy-accredited short film festival, which means the winners of Flickerfest’s major awards – Best Film, Best Animation and Best Australian Film – can qualify to be nominated for – and potentially win – an Academy Award. Since the Festival was accredited in 2002, over 30 Flickerfest films have been nominated for or won Academy Awards. In fact, this year’s Oscar winner for Best Live Action Short, The Phone Call (UK, 2013), was part of Flickerfest’s programme last year. Furthermore, it’s a great way for young filmmakers to get their start in the business, with Australian directors like David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) and Warwick Thornton (Samson & Delilah) getting their big breaks through Flickerfest.
Searching through 2200 entries, the Festival directors chose only 100 films to exhibit through the festival’s course and put into competition. This year, the film that took out Best Film was Grey Bull (Australia, 2014, dir. Eddy Bell and Khoby Rowe), a film that was also shown as part of Flickerfest’s unique ‘Made In Melbourne’ night.
For one night only, on the 18th of February, Flickerfest was held at the Palace Kino, showing a selection of films from some of Melbourne’s best up-and-coming filmmakers. For of the filmmakers present, they addressed how this was their first chance at showing their films in front of a hometown crowd.
Their films – all of an extremely high standard – varied from thrillers to comedies to dramas to a mixture of all three.
Building Bridges (2014, dir. Jessica Barclay Lawton) was the opening film, and is a short and sweet allegory about a man who is building a bridge and tackling with the confusing forces of life. The Fabric (2014, dir. Thomas Baricevic) was a favourite amongst the crowd (and of mine personally). It follows a teenage girl named Katrina, whose family are Sudanese refugees. With a very John Hughes-y twist on the struggle refugees face coping with a new culture and life, Katrina expresses herself through her love for fashion design.
The Rabbit (2014, dir. Matt Richards) is a hard-hitting, and hard-to-watch drama about an impoverished teenage boy who doesn’t seem to have anyone in his life caring for him or to care for, except for an abandoned rabbit he finds. On a new twist on an old classic, Waterborne (2014, dir. Ryan Coonan) takes the zombie apocalypse genre and places it in the middle of the Aussie bush, asking the question: why has no one ever though about zombie kangaroos before?
Shot in a single take, Rhododendron (2014, dir. Lewis Attey) beautifully explores the cultural and age gap between two people – an elderly Eastern European man and his noisy, young Australian neighbour. Sisterly bonds prove to be both strained and strengthened in She Was She (2013, Anna McGrath), when terminally ill Mina’s younger, chirpy sister, Emily, decides to comfort her by moving in.
Winning Flickerfest’s award for Best Film, Melbourne’s very own Grey Bull mixes many emotions into one exquisite piece of cinema. When Martin, a Sudanese refugee, finds a bull he believes to be his spiritual totem, he rescues it from the abattoir he work in and brings it home, much to the dismay of his wife. Themes surrounding cultural identity and finding one’s place in the world are beautifully explored with heartbreaking melancholy and surprisingly whity humour.
Love Hurts is a black comedy about a disgruntled Maid-of-Honour who is more than a little reluctant to be a part of her perfect twin sister’s wedding; it includes one hell of a wicked twist ending. Falling (2014, dir. Julian Vincent Costanzo) explores the disintegration of a relationship between two very different people, with each pulling the other down. Finally, the hilarious I’m You Dickhead (2014, dir. Lucas Testro) asks: what would you do if you had the chance to go back in time? For one man, it’s the chance to convince his younger self to learn the guitar so that he can get more action with the ladies in the present day.
Flickerfest is an amazing opportunity for up-and-coming filmmakers to exhibit their work and for audiences to see a diverse array of films covering unique, important and interesting subjects. Make sure you go check it out!
Flickerfest will be travelling around the country until the end of May.
For further information please visit their website: flickerfest.com.au