Flickerfest 2016 @ The Judith Wright Centre

Three days of cinematic charm and challenge

“A good short story should take me out of myself and then stuff me back in outsized, now, and uneasy with the fit,” wrote David Sedaris, and the same must be written of short films. After viewing the twenty-five short films shown at Flickerfest, the audience had been so often taken out and re-stuffed that many needed to pause and re-adjust before the customary chatter and phone checking ensued.

Flickerfest started in 1991 as a small festival at Balmain High School but has since burgeoned into Australia’s “Leading platform for innovative, creative short film,” says festival director Bronwyn Kidd. With Academy accreditation (four academy award nominated live-action shorts were shown at this year’s festival) and over 2300 entries this year from around the globe, the 25th annual Flickerfest boasts a remarkable collection of diverse work. Of those 2300 entries, twenty-five were shown in the Brisbane leg of the national tour. 

In the opening shot of the opening short film, Meek by Brisbane animator Joe Braum, a meteorite crashes into a dark, cold land sparsely populated by diminutive, shivering figures. The figures immediately gravitate towards the warmth and light-providing meteorite but competition arises as quickly as the meteorite has arrived. One figure dominates the others and a dictatorship ensues. But it is at this moment that Braum’s lightness of touch and Kaufmannian wit shines through; the meteorite is a dropped cigarette butt. All the social commentary remains yet the sudden readjustment of scale lends itself to a more intimate consideration of addiction.

From there the audience floated through nine other Australian short films including Flat Daddy (a wife and daughter cope with the absence of their husband and father away on duty by living with a printout: a Flat Daddy); Home (a monologue written and performed by Tariro Mavondo on the obstacles facing and opportunities involving refugees in Australia), and Ernie Biscuit (a Harvie Krumpet-style claymation following a lonely taxidermist’s pursuit for love).

Bronwyn and her team deftly curated the diverse range of both the Australian and international shorts. Tonal changes were managed with sensitivity; the audience were not left alone in the dark, languishing in the interminable sadness of Alles Wird Gut (Everything Will Be Okay), but nor were they permitted the luxury of predictability. Following the droll tale of a gay, lolling French youth, Le Repas Dominical (The Sunday Lunch), came the gritty Out of the Village that provides no assurance that the two children, orphaned by the Ebola virus, will be ok.

This is what is so wonderful about Flickerfest: variety. The couple sitting beside me loathed my favourite film of the festival, Stutterer, a coquettish love story featuring a man with a cruel speech impediment, and I was not enamoured by their favourite film (Imagination Game). This is how it should be with any mélange: many flavours produce many reactions.

Flickerfest will continue to tour throughout Queensland and Australia until May 2016.

- Damian Maher

Movie Details

Title: Flickerfest - International Short Film Festival