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18 September 2018
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A profile of Australian short film festivals

Just as in the 1980s and 90s people aspired to be rock stars by forming garage bands, now they go out and make short films.
Director, AFC Film Development Carole Sklan

The AFC's Industry and Cultural Development Program helps provide opportunities for potential audiences to access Australian programs by funding many short film festivals. Such festivals are a great place for emerging filmmakers to test their films on audiences and to engage with other filmmakers. Winning an award at FLiCKERFEST or Sony Tropfest can be an indicator to other festival directors and sales agents that you are a filmmaker to look out for. Whatever type of films you are making - environmental, hip hop, B-grade horror - there'll be a festival that caters for you.

If you are interested in obtaining funding for your short film festival, click here for funding information

Here's a profile of short film festivals to attend or submit to:

15/15 Film Festival
When: 21 May - 20 October 2004
Where: Tours nationally
Contact: Jacqueline or Amadeo
Ph: 0400 548 836 or 0400 472 172

The 15/15 Film Festival has been steadily growing in popularity for four years, from four initial locations in Victoria to 26 national locations this year. The festival offers emerging filmmakers the chance to produce, shoot, edit and screen a short film in a tight timeframe.

Participating filmmakers are given 15 hours in one day to make and edit their film, which can be up to 15 minutes in length, hence the festival's title.

The festival has no age restrictions and to participate you need to register on the festival website and download a Participants' Pack. Once registered you will receive information about a Quickies Kit, distributed in designated locations on the morning of the shoot. Each film must incorporate a specific object and a quote in the script.

A selection of the films screen as part of the travelling festival to local and international destinations. All films submitted are programmed at least once so it's a good way to reach a wide audience. An awards ceremony is held at the Capitol Theatre, Melbourne, on 22 May 2004.
FLiCKERFEST International Short Film Festival
When: Early January each year
Where: Bondi, Sydney
Tours nationally to Byron Bay, Alice Springs, Katherine, Adelaide, Gunnedah, Melbourne, Canberra, Kempsey, Sawtell, Brisbane and Perth
PO Box 7416
Bondi Beach NSW 2026
Ph: (02) 9365 6888

Short films play a crucial role in encouraging and fostering independent storytelling in the many diverse cultures that make up our cultural landscape. Through screening and encouraging this diversity I hope that this festival in some small way is able to contribute to the awareness and cultural tolerance so desperately needed in our current times.
Bronwyn Kidd, FLiCKERFEST Festival Director

FLiCKERFEST has grown from a small screening at Sydney's Balmain High School in 1992 to Australia's only competitive international short film festival. In 2004 the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences selected FLiCKERFEST as a qualifying festival for the Best Short and Best Animation categories at the Oscars.

Festival Director Bronwyn Kidd, a short film and documentary maker herself, travels the globe selecting new shorts, many not previously seen by Australian audiences. Many Academy Award-nominated films are screened and it's a rare chance to see shorts on 35mm and 16mm film. In 2003 a record 910 entries were received so competition is fierce. The festival sees shorts filmmaking as a highly specialised artform. Short documentaries are also screened.

The festival screens up to 15 programs over the nine-day season. 2004 highlights included a global spotlight on innovative Spanish short films, Spike and Mike animation from LA, Flickerkids and Cannes Film Festival shorts. There was also a documentary masterclass with filmmaker Scott Millwood, AFI and IF Award-winning director of Wildness, and Behind the Frame, a regular series which speaks to key cinematographers about their craft. 2004 featured Kim Batterham and Anthony Jennings.

Australian winners in 2004 included Harvie Krumpet (Best Animation), Out of Fear (Highly Commended, Documentary), Bush Bikes (Highly Commended, Documentary), Spoonman (Best Australian Short), Hello (Best Direction and Best Achievement in Sound - Jonathon Nix), Claudia's Shadow (Most Resourceful Production), The Projectionist (Best Cinematography - Anthony Jennings), Ward 13 (Best Editing - Adrian Barac) and Soar (Most Popular Film and Best Original Screenplay - Damon Herriman).

Since March 2002, Bronwyn has also been the Director of the FLiCKERFEST short film bureau that distributes the best of Australian short films to the international market.
Grass Roots Short Film Festival
When: February each year
Where: Perth

The Grass Roots Short Film Festival is a free, open-air screening of short Australian drama and documentary films held in Perth. Each year's festival has a theme so the drama submitted needs to be made especially for the festival. Five dramas and five docos are shortlisted by a panel of judges and these films are featured at the open-air event. Entrants to the festival must be WA-based as this event is seen as a way to boost and increase the profile of filmmaking in WA.

Shortlisted films in 2004 included Boots, Chaps and Cowboy Hats (Samantha Bergersen, Anthea Power, Sean Noakes, Tomos Ewe), 1994 (Mike Frencham), Spreadin' the Love (Paul Komadina), Sam and the Green Men (Zen Rosenthal), (Robert Koenig-Luck), Watch Comes Around (Aaron McCann), Jim (Timothy Merks), Nineteen Eighty-Twos (Vince O'Despair, Aegis Vainwad), Matinee (Daniel Foldes) and Watch the Birdy (John Carozzi, Julian Throssell).
Melbourne International Animation Festival (MIAF) and Australian International Animation Festival (AIAF)
When: MIAF - June each year, AIAF - September each year
Where: MIAF - Melbourne, AIAF - Sydney
PO Box 1024
Collingwood VIC 3066
Ph: (03) 9416 4199

Animators are filmmakers and as a group their films reflect the full range of issues and voices that any large group of filmmakers would produce. The difference is that they have an incredibly imaginative medium with which to do it. Techniques on show are equally diverse. The myth that the computer has taken over animation is sent packing by the MIAF line-up. Animators the world over are still drawing, still making puppets move and still creating wondrous creatures from plasticine. Watercolours, rubber stamps and whole scenes made of cut-out cardboard join the traditional techniques in standing side by side with the products of computer hard drives.
The Animation Posse

MIAF and AIAF are organised by The Animation Posse, which operates out of Melbourne. Each festival has a similar program of Australian and international shorts, special features and a Best of the Fest.

MIAF, a six-day celebration of the very best of international and Australian animation, was sold out in 2003 with 7,000 people attending over seven days. The festival screens hard-to-find animations from around the world alongside Academy Award-nominated films and has a range of both critical and popular awards.

2003 highlights included Betty Boop in all her sassy glory, a feature film My Beautiful Girl - Mari from Korea, a focus on the Czech Republic's remarkable tradition of animation, a retrospective of Paul Driessen, master Dutch animator, and the sublime films musing on Fine Art by Jan Svankmajer, Pritt Parn and Georges Schwizgebel.

Australian winners in 2003 included Mother Tongue (Best Australian Film - Susan Kim), M Theory (Best Film in Computer Panorama - Nathan Hamey), Cane Toad (Highly Commended - Andrew Silke and David Clayton) and Bin Can Can (Best Film in Kids' Session - Steve Agland).

The Australian International Animation Festival screens a similar program in Sydney.
Over the Fence Comedy Film Festival
When: February-June 2004
Where: Perth and touring nationally to 42 venues
Contact: Greg Coffey, Festival Director
Ph: (08) 9337 6049

The WA-based Over the Fence Comedy Film Festival has been going strong for eight years and is Australia's largest touring comedy film festival. The festival screens 15 comic short films and awards are given in the categories of Most Popular, Best Film and Director's Prize. In 2003 the festival went international, touring to Sao Paulo in Brazil.

Over the Fence aims to encourage and celebrate Australian culture and humour and screens innovative films by emerging filmmakers to the broadest possible audience.

The finalists for 2004 were Not What I Expected, Concession, Punmu Jiparakuya, Milkmen, A Short Portrait of Zora Zakowski, Top Blokes, Men's Room, Hello, Rockhard, Little Noel Wants to Fly, The Situation Room, Fukuda Television, 7 Across, Gajardi's Dream and The House of Names.
Sony Tropfest
When: Sunday 22 February 2004
Where: Consecutive outdoor screenings in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, Canberra and Hobart
62-64 Riley St
East Sydney NSW 2010
Ph: (02) 9368 0434

Judging becomes more difficult as Sony Tropfest matures. In the 12 years since the festival started, digital cameras, editing equipment and post-production technology have raised production quality exponentially at the same time as making the filmmaking process more accessible.
Serena Paull, Project Director

Sony Tropfest has been a fixture on the short film circuit for 12 years. The brainchild of Festival Director John Polson, it started as a screening of one short film at the Tropicana Cafe in Darlinghurst and has evolved to over 120,000 people attending six free outdoor events to view the 16 selected finalists, selected from over 700 entries (including from overseas) in 2004. Best of the Rest, which screens all shortlisted films, screens in Sydney and Melbourne.

The aim of the festival is to provide opportunities for emerging filmmakers, technicians and actors, and a platform and audience for their work. Sony Tropfest has always been good at self-promotion - winning films screen on television, and DVDs with the 16 winners are distributed to video retail outlets nationally.

Making a Sony Tropfest film means filmmaking on the run as each filmmaker must wait until the Tropfest Signature Item (TSI) is revealed before starting to shoot and all films must be shorter than seven minutes. The 2005 TSI will be announced in July 2004. Past TSIs include a hook, rock, match, horn, bug and chopsticks.

Winners in 2004 included The Money (First Prize and Best Screenplay - Gary Eck), Confessions of an Animation (Best Comedy and Second Prize - Steve Baker), Yin (Young Talent Award, People's Choice Award and Third Prize - Costa Avgoustinos), Enzo (Best Male Actor - Dorain Nkono), Summer Angst (Best Female Actor - Nancy Nesnas), For Every Year (Best Cinematography - Andrew McPherson), Book Em (Best Score - Ashley Klose), One Down (Best Editing - Stewart Reeves) and The Little Woman (Tropicana Award - Greg Williams).
St Kilda Film Festival
When: 25-30 May 2004
Where: St Kilda, Melbourne
Tours nationally to Canberra, Brisbane, Adelaide, Hobart, Sydney and Perth
Ph: (03) 9209 6711

Oscar-winner Adam Elliot, Cannes Palme D'Or winner Glendyn Ivin, and 2002 Oscar nominee, Steve Pasvolsky, all have one thing in common. They are all Australian short filmmakers who have previously won awards at the St Kilda Film Festival. For twenty-one years, the St Kilda Film Festival has been encouraging Australian talent, fostering young and emerging filmmakers, and putting our short films on the map around the world.
Dick Gross, Mayor, City of Port Phillip

The St Kilda Film Festival is Australia's longest-running short film festival, turning 21 in 2004, and the only film festival organised by local government. It screens a comprehensive national competition of local shorts and showcases the latest in cutting-edge and controversial films.

Many entries are from university filmmakers and the emphasis is on youth culture and emerging practitioners. The event increasingly provides distributors, broadcasters, sales agents and exhibitors with a central forum in which to view the year's output of shorts. The cash prize for best film is $10,000.

Highlights of the 2004 program include Adam Elliot's Oscar-winning film Harvie Krumpet, the national competition, the SoundKILDA Australian Music Video Competition, industry market day, forums and closing night awards. SoundKILDA, first introduced in 2002, is Australia's only dedicated competition for music videos. Prizes are awarded in two categories: independent releases and major releases. There are also plans to webstream a selection of music videos before and after the festival.

Winners in 2004 included Cracker Bag (Best Short Film and Direction - Glendyn Ivin), The Shot (Best New Director - Puven Pather), The Roundabout (Best Editing - Geordie Anderson), The Visitor (Best Fiction and Best Original Screenplay) and Fill My Hole (Best Independent Video - David Thrussell and Richard Grant from SNOG).

Full festival details, programs and session guides will be available in early May 2004.
Other resources for shorts filmmakers

The following Australian film festivals don't exclusively program shorts but do screen them. They tend to be theme-based. For more information, visit their websites or contact the organisers.

ReelDance on Tour
Specialises in dance films

Japanime and Animasia
Specialises in anime

Mountain Film Festival
Specialises in films on the environment and mountains in particular
Contact: Chris Cooper -

Hip Hop Film Festival
Specialises in Australian hip hop culture
Contact: Emily York - 0412 136 459

Marketing Your Film on the AFC website has a range of valuable resources including a guide to marketing short films internationally, profiles of international shorts festivals and a noticeboard with international festivals regularly looking for short films.

The AFC will be hosting seminars on marketing short films in May 2004. Email for further details.

Carole Sklan quote: M Colbert, "Success of the short film: In the dreams of youth the filmmaker replaces rock star", The Australian, 14 April 2004

All other quotes are from festival websites

Article by Kirsten Krauth

FLiCKERFEST International Short Film Festival
Kamahl and festival director Bronwyn Kidd