By Mark Morellini
This annual cinematic event celebrates 28 years, having screened and promoted some of the world’s best shorts to enthusiastic audiences on the big screen, also inspiring creativity and opening influential doors to filmmakers worldwide.
“This year we’ve had 2700 entries from over 100 countries which is an increase from last year and we’re really excited about the range of films,” explained Bronwyn Kidd, the festival director. ”We’ve got 47% female directors which is also up again from last year. We don’t program according to gender, we program the best short films and it just so happens that this year we’ve seen a lot more indigenous films from indigenous filmmakers and there’s also more multicultural films coming through.”
Over 200 shorts will be screened during the festival and Bronwyn promises there’s something for all tastes.
“There’s a fantastic LGBTIQ and family program and a primary and high school program, which screens films made by young people. There’s also a program of incredible Academy qualifying short documentaries for people who love docos. Opening and closing night parties will also be a fun way of rubbing shoulders with filmmakers.”
But what qualities gain shorts entry into Flickerfest?
“I’m looking for films which are inspiring, are really fresh and entertaining – that’s really important. I don’t like to go for style over content, story is really important to me. Films that move me or surprise me, that have got something new to say about the world, I think that’s what I’m really looking for.”
Flickerfest has been the launching pad for the career of many filmmakers over the years, including Joel Edgerton (Boy Erased), David Michod (Animal Kingdom) and Cate Shortland (Somersault). What is it about Flickerfest that makes it such an anticipated and highly respected short film festival worldwide? “I think it’s the level of competition and the real energy and effort that we put into curating the program. Being 28 years old we have a globally respected reputation, but we are receiving the best of the best of short films. It’s a beautiful way to experience this very independent creative culture. Short film is not about commercial concern, but it allows filmmakers to tell stories which they are really passionate about.”
Vanessa Gazy is a passionate, award-winning director/writer, born in Sydney who gained a journalism degree but followed her heart and ultimately became a filmmaker. Her two earlier shorts Foal and Highway screened at previous Flickerfests. Shiloh is her latest work screening this year, which premiered at the 2018 Melbourne International Film Festival.
“Shiloh is basically about a young girl who travels back in time to the day her parents met, in a bid to keep them apart because she’s trying to save her mother from a life of tragedy and unhappiness. It’s a sad tale, a reflection on family and the fragility of life and how much we love each other in families, but how heartbreaking families can be as well. It’s also about chance and circumstance and the miraculous nature of life itself.”
Gazy explained that it’s really important for filmmakers to have their shorts screened at Flickerfest, as it’s Australia’s largest short film festival and is also Academy accredited and BAFTA recognised. “The programming is great, Bronwyn is very rigorous about her selection and both the International and Australian short film programs are always exciting to watch. I think to be included amongst those films is a real honour. The calibre is excellent so you always feel happy screening with those filmmakers. Flickerfest is a hugely important platform for up and coming filmmakers and it’s been very important for me personally.”
And how does it feel when a filmmaker finds out their short will screen at Flickerfest?
“It’s exciting – really wonderful to know that you can actually bring your film home and screen it to the people you love most, your peers, colleagues and people in the industry. It’s such a supportive audience at Flickerfest as well. There’s nothing quite like screening your short at Flickerfest. It’s also a beautiful physical setting on Bondi Beach.”
Gazy is excited about the future and hopes to direct feature films and create a few television shows. She recently had the honour of writing and directing the Flickerfest Dynamic Trio And The Joker themed trailer which was filmed on iconic Bondi Beach.
“It was so much fun – I had a great day! Usually, my films are a bit heavier in subject matter, darker and more serious but it was fun doing something light-hearted and having a crack at comedy. We just spent the whole day on set laughing. I loved it!”
Finally, any tips for readers who would like a career in the film industry?
“Short films are where you can practice your craft, showcase what you can do. They’re a real stepping stone into long-form work and they have been for me, so however you can do it, put something together on an iPhone or raise some serious money on a crowd funding platform and try to get it into Flickerfest.”
Jan 11 – 20. Bondi Pavillion, Queen Elizabeth Drive, Bondi Beach. Tickets & Info: www.flickerfest.com.au