Flickerfest Festival Director Bronwyn Kidd talks gender, regions and celebrating 25 years
Flickerfest is now in its 25th year, how do you feel it has developed?
In my 19 years of being involved it has grown expediently. In 1997 we had 200 entries, this year we’ve had 2400, we now tour nationally to venues across the country including 19 in NSW. It’s been wonderful to see the festival grow in that time and to be a platform for filmmakers to grow their careers, and we’ve seen some wonderful alumni come from the festival in that time.
What does Flickerfest hope to achieve by providing a platform for short filmmakers to be noticed?
The festival is very much about that platform, it’s about discovery and bringing film makers to an audience. Showing your film to an audience gives you an opportunity to see your work in front of a crowd, to see the reaction of the audience, and to get people to discover you as a filmmaker and that’s very much what we are about. We hope to achieve encouragement and support for emerging filmmakers to keep making more films. I think the film industry is one of the toughest industries to establish a career, so at the starting point it’s great to have that encouragement of this platform, and feel like you’re on the right track.
Do you need a huge budget to make it to Flickerfest?
We don’t know what the budgets are when we select the films. Certainly we screen a large range of films across the 10 days, approximately 110 in competition and around 60 of those are Australian films, and we show documentaries so there are a number of different pathways that film makers can have their films selected. The story is key for us; it’s not the budget.
How do you make your short film stand out against 2000 entries?
For us it’s creativity, it’s being innovative and telling stories that you’re passionate about. We are interested in stories that are a little bit deeper, where you can tell that the filmmaker is passionate and it’s a story they really want to tell. And when all of those elements come together, that’s what is going to engage an audience. Telling a story that people are going to be moved by or find a new outlook from.
What does the festival hope to achieve by screening in regional locations and can you tell us how it’s been received?
It's our 21st year of screening in Byron Bay and for many other regions we've also had a long, long history over many years. Its difficult for regional areas to have access to independent cinema giving regional areas an opportunity to see world-class cinema, that they wouldn’t often be given the opportunity to seem is important. It also creates other opportunities, for example, this year we have the world premiere of a Newcastle filmmaker, Andrew Gallagher’s, The Lake, which will screen in front of his hometown. In this way it’s an opportunity for the film to find its audience.
Flickerfest is also a chance for the community in these regional centres to come together, to network, and it fosters the arts in that community and encourages appreciation for Australian films.
Tell us a bit about the Australian contingent this year?
There is certainly no lack of great short films being made in NSW. We’ve got creative films, films that are heart-warming, technically proficient, well casted and unique stories that focus on everything from the refugee experience to cultural experience. We have quite a few Indigenous filmmakers coming through and we are also very focused on encouraging female directors and we have a great mix of female directors in the program.
Has thinking around gender issues informed the festival?
As a female director and director of the festival I can say that Flickerfest has always been incredibly proactive in encouraging female directors, so we haven't done anything different, we’ve done what we do every year, which is to be proactive about supporting great female directors. We are creating opportunities for female directors to be screened and to be discovered and we will continue to make sure that female directors area screened in a well-balanced way. A young female director, Kacie Anning, who has screened at the festival before, also directs our trailer.
Did any films really inspire you this year?
So many! Nan and a Whole Lot of Trouble was one that I was really pleased to see coming through this year. It’s from northern NSW and it’s great to see excellent productions being made regionally. I guess with many of the short films coming through they have been really contemporary and innovative, dealing with current issues and that’s something really special about the short form that always inspires me at Flickerfest each year.
How do you see the future of Flickerfest?
We are really committed to our vision of providing a platform for short film making in NSW to be shown across the world. Flickerfest is Academy® Accredited and BAFTA recognised, and that’s testimony to the quality of the program. For us it’s about films, it’s about bringing films to audiences, it’s about discovering new talent and I hope that we will remain true to that vision.