#FlickerfestSoDiverse: Director Bronwyn Kidd reveals line-up for 2018 program
Flickerfest has unveiled its official program to be screened at the 2018 festival, which kicks off at Bondi Pavilion, Sydney from January 12-21 before touring the country. Keeping with the festival’s flavour, this year’s Flickerfest line-up is once again rich with voices from many different walks of life.
1998 was your first festival, so 2018 will be your 20th. How do you keep the momentum going?
It’s always really exciting to see the new films come through each year. I’m really passionate about short films, and being able to support emerging filmmakers, but also just to be able to share this really incredible form of storytelling. We’re all so swamped with the Hollywood formula, so to showcase this truly independent work and to share it with audiences both across 10 days in Bondi and NSW regional venues and to see such audience enthusiasm for the films makes it all worthwhile.
Short film is having a real resurgence, especially through social media platforms. What trends are you seeing with your applications?
Over the last 20 years, filmmaking’s become far more accessible through digital technology, and one of the biggest changes I’ve seen is a far greater cultural diversity of filmmakers coming through, people speaking out in film that probably didn’t have a voice before. People who weren’t able to access the means of making films. So certainly, that’s the biggest change that I’ve seen.
We’ve introduced an LGBTQI+ program this year and we have SAE FlickerUp, our national high school primary school competition – that’s been going for quite a few years now.
We are seeing incredible talent and very young people who are adept and skilled at making films and using this technology. Certainly, the new technology has facilitated a greater accessibility to a broader range of age groups, filmmakers from regional centres, and filmmakers from different cultural backgrounds.
Thinking about the hot topics of diversity and authenticity in filmmaking - are you seeing any of those themes come through in Flickerfest applications?
Absolutely. Even within the festival this year, we’ve got a broader range of cultures and films from an extremely broad sector of the community. But at Flickerfest we’ve always been aware of looking out for a range of voices. We’re not a formula festival. We’ve always accepted a broad range of work and we’re not prescriptive in how long the film needs to be or that it needs to include a theme. It’s very much about what you want to make, and that’s what we celebrate.
We have films from three minutes to 30 minutes and there’s an incredible diversity within that range of films, on themes, and the stories that are being told. For many years now, Flickerfest has supported female directors, we’ve always had a good component of Indigenous short films coming through and in the last two to three years, a lot more LGBTQI+ films. Personally, I’m very committed to representing the whole community and to having as broad a range of voices as possible. It’s really exciting to see this diversity and to see some films coming through from not the typical film industry, which of course is very dominated by male directors and by more of a white Australia, than is a true representation of the country that we live in.
Did you have diversity in mind when putting together the 2018 program?
Definitely. I always get really excited when I see a great diverse range of stories and filmmakers - it makes our festival programme far richer. We screen seven programs of Australian shorts and there about 65 films that we’re going to screen in the Australian competition this year and all these films must stand on their merit, and the standard is very, very high. When you’re an academy-qualifying festival, it’s important that you have a really high standard of shorts, and we do – we had over two-and-a-half-thousand entries, and we’ll screen about 120 films in competition so it’s always highly competitive.
What I’m excited by is that this standard of films coming through from such a diverse range of filmmakers is just getting higher and higher and higher. It’s not a case that we would program a short just because it represents a diversity; but we’re really thrilled to celebrate the fact that there are so many incredibly well-crafted, great stories coming through form such a broad range of filmmakers. And that shows that people feel that Flickerfest is an accessible festival for them.
What advice would you have for people who are thinking about getting into Flickerfest in the following years, for 2019?
Make an authentic film – make a film that you’re passionate about and a story that is really important to you that you want to champion. What stands out for me are authentic stories, not films that are trying to guess what the festival will select or that are a replica of somebody else’s film or a cliché.
Make a film you’re passionate about, from the heart, and really work on your script, because that’s what lets films down. You can have a fantastic production crew, great cinematography, great sound, production design, and even great actors, but if the script’s not working, the script’s not working, and that’s always the disappointing thing we find lets a film down.
After the festival launches in Sydney it will embarks on a huge Australia-wide tour; how do you feel the festival is received throughout the country?
It’s very much an annual event earmarked on many towns cultural calendars and we have built up a loyal and passionate audience over many years with great local partners who work tirelessly to bring the festival to their region across our 52 venue national tour. This year will be our 15th year in Mullumbimby in the NORTHERN RIVERS of NSW, where we will also host the 12th year of Byron All Shorts- local shorts competition, so it’s exciting to see a growing filmmaking community in this region now which we have tried to encourage across the many years of Flickerfest.
Wherever we go in regional Australia, we’re really trying to engage people with Australian stories, and get them to celebrate these emerging filmmakers so that when their feature films come out, they’ve got a bit of a relationship with them, and they’ll know them, and they’ll want to go along and support those stories as well. I think there’s incredible passion for Australian stories; it’s all about access, and I think in many regional centres where we tour, there’s not even a cinema and there’s a great excitement and anticipation of the festival coming to their town again this year.
Over the last 20 plus years of Flickerfest, the festival has many filmmakers who have now gone on to forge careers in the industry. Can you share with us any that pop into your head?
I would certainly say that there’s been some incredible talent that have come through Flickerfest over the years, and it’s wonderful to have encouraged their filmmaking and to have brought their films to audiences. Certainly, Joel and Nash Edgerton have had many short films in Flickerfest and took home the audience award back in 1998. Cate Shortland has had three short films in Flickerfest over the years, so she’s certainly someone who stands out for me as having gone through and perfected her craft in the short film form.
Our alumni includes Alethea Jones and Kriv Stenders also as festival alumni Wayne Blair, who of course. Ben Young, who’s recently directed Hounds of Love, has had short films in Flickerfest over the years. Also, there’s David Michod, of course – all of his short films in Flickerfest over the years. It’s incredible to see that when their talent shines through with their short films, they can go on to great success. While I’m certainly not surprised, it’s a tough business and it’s really wonderful to see that they’re breaking through.
For anyone who has somehow never been to Flickerfest, what would you say?
The festival program is the best of the best of short films from Australia and around the world, condensed into an incredible 10-day event, where it’s celebrating filmmaking, celebrating filmmakers, and great networking opportunities and we have a fantastic venue at Bondi Beach in summer. I guess all of those things are the key elements that makes Flickerfest special and unique.
Flickerfest 2018 kicks off at Bondi Pavillion, 12-21st of January 2018. For tickets and information: http://flickerfest.com.au/