By Elouise Eftos
Last week I had the privilege to attend the 24th Flickerfest International Short Film Festival during the Perth leg of its nationwide tour, which commenced in early January in Sydney. Whilst TropFest has cemented itself as the forerunner of Australian short film with its annual competition in which filmmakers must put together a production of no more than 7 minutes that features a signature item, Flickerfest is considered our nation’s most prestigious international competition for short film. Although not as well-known, or well-publicised as TropFest within our own country, Flickerfest comes from similar humble beginnings; in 1991 the first festival was screened at Balmain High School. Now Flickerfest is recognised by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences as a qualifying festival for the short film categories at the Academy Awards, and is considered one of the most significant festivals in the international short film circuit.
Although the festival recognises documentary, student films, and short films based on environmental themes, only three categories were screened at the Camelot Outdoor Theatre in Perth Western Australia over four nights; the Best of Australian Shorts, Best of International Shorts and Short Laughs Comedy. In order to pay tribute to the many incredible productions that featured in the festival, here’s my top 5 short films (in no particular order) that were selected for the Australian category.
Breath is a compelling story of a father’s love for his daughter, and the sacrifices he is willing to make when she requires a lung transplant in order to survive. A lot of thought has evidently gone into the direction of the film, particularly in regards to the use of a fish as a metaphor to represent the daughter’s failing lung, and the struggle to breathe. Although perhaps an obvious choice, it really worked for the film, and brought back memories for me of fishing with my Dad when I was younger. Whilst it explores fairly serious subject matter, there are some light-hearted moments as well, and all of the performers deliver, especially Michael Dorman in the lead role.
YOU CUT, I CHOOSE
Written & Directed by Beth Armstrong
You Cut, I Choose makes for highly entertaining viewing in its relatable portrayal of a bond between siblings, and how this relationship changes over time. It effortlessly balances its comedy against its more heartfelt moments, and had me crying with laughter and sadness alike in different scenes. As the film progresses through the years, the production design remains authentic to each time period, and although the main characters are portrayed by six different actors at varying ages, each representation of the sibling relationship remains credible.
Written by Francis Jupurrurla Kelly, David Batty, Jason Japaljarri Woods & Jonathan Daw and Directed by Jason Japaljarri Woods & Johnathan Daw
Through the art of stop motion animation, Bush Mechanics tells the tale of four Warlpiri men who experience car trouble at the hands of a mischievous spirit when travelling through the Australian desert. This short film completely transcends its genre, and fully engages its audience, despite the fact that its main characters are made of clay. I’ve always had a fascination with claymation, being a fan of Gumby since I was little, and I have to say that I was very impressed by the high technical quality and attention to detail used throughout Bush Mechanics. It’s also refreshing to see a comedic film about Indigenous people that also manages to incorporate their traditions and culture.
The incomparable Jackie Weaver stars in this comedic short film as Florence; a foul-mouthed woman with groovy fashion sense who is living out her twilight years at the Marigold House Assisted Living Facility. When two rival Elvis impersonators are double booked for the annual Christmas Eve concert, this young-at-heart trouble-maker decides to take advantage of the situation. The script by Foulkes is written exceptionally well; my love for Elvis probably makes me a bit biased, but this is such an outrageous story that you can’t help but smile. All the characters are very well developed, and performed with excellence, but Weaver really does steal the show.
ONE FINE DAY
Written & Directed by Kelli Cross
Set in our own Perth, Western Australia, One Fine Day portrays the personal story of director Kelli Cross in which she and her husband endured the wait for a heart transplant. One Fine Day explores not only the strain placed upon relationships in such difficult times, but also the prejudice experienced by indigenous people on a daily basis. Cross creates such suspense in not revealing the reasons behind the couple’s visits to the hospital, and I found myself having to ward off discriminatory thoughts as a result. Similar to Bush Mechanics, One Fine Day presents Indigenous people in a new light, this time with the characters living in suburbia, rather than out in the bush. Overall, the raw performances of the lead actors made this a very touching film.
Images courtesy of Flickerfest