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A film festival for people with more than just short attention spans

Michael Weaver 4 September 2019
Glitoris

Canberra band Glitoris will feature their song Lipstick and Politics in this year’s Canberra Short Film Festival. Photo: Supplied.

The Canberra Short Film Festival opens this Saturday, and organisers say it is not just for people with short attention spans.

Festival director John Frohlich said the two-week festival will screen the best short films from Australia and around the globe across six locations in Canberra. Prizes will also be awarded to the best films in each of the nine categories.

Mr Frohlich told Region Media this year’s festival includes 53 films just from Iranian filmmakers. To accommodate these films, a mini-festival will occur in the second week of the festival.

“The Iranian films celebrate and reveal so much about contemporary Iranian society. They deal with a range of issues including gender politics about girls who aren’t allowed to ride bikes, to sexual identity, refugees and immigration, along with many of the universal concerns around love, grief and family,” Mr Frohlich said.

“What strikes you is the beauty of Persian cultural heritage. These films are very poetic and offer an intriguing insight into contemporary Iran.”

A screenshot from one of the 53 Iranian films that will feature as a mini-festival in the Canberra Short Film Festival.

Organisers are also showing a range of First Nations films from Australia and also Norway, Mexico and Brazil. They include beautiful narrative films and also documentaries and animations.

“This is the third year we have run the First Nations category and submissions have doubled since last year,” Mr Frohlich said.

Organisers have received a record number of submissions in all categories, which include Canberra films, national, international, animations and a special two-minute film category, where filmmakers have to make sure they get their message across.

“The thing about short films is that they allow the filmmaker to be a lot more innovative and experimental,” says Mr Frohlich.

“You have to draw your characters so that people can identify with them very quickly. You’ve got to get through the beginning, middle and end and make it compelling at the same time.

“It takes really skilful storytelling where you’ve only got a few scenes, but you communicate all the elements of a traditional film in a highly condensed version.”

Mr Frohlich said short films enable filmmakers to break into what is a very difficult industry.

“You can’t really make a feature film these days for under $5 million, but you can make short films. They’re like a stepping stone into the industry. A lot of the filmmakers who have been in the short film festival have ended up working television or gone into the industry in other ways,” he said.

“People are now making films on their phones, and the lenses and technology are so good that you really can’t tell the difference. This is the art form of the 21st century.”

Mr Frohlich said they received more than 66 hours of work in 380 different films, all of which were produced in the last 18 months. The films range in length of one minute to 20 minutes.

“We will be showcasing wonderful examples of 3D work from studios in Indonesia, USA and Australia, with other works including puppetry, beautiful hand-drawn works and stop motion. There are music videos from Kuwait, India, South America and Europe, along with some very impressive examples from right here in Canberra demonstrating the quality and depth of local talent.

The Canberra Short Film Festival opens this Saturday, 7 September with a two-minute 26-second film called Australian Sweetheart by Canberra filmmaker Jane Inyang. The festival runs until 22 September.

The full program is on the Canberra Short Film Festival website.

A scene from ACT First Nations filmmaker Nevanka McKeon’s short film, Jade Runner.


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