St Kilda Film Festival review

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By Callum Loughran

The St Kilda Film Festival returned last month to much anticipation. Many in Melbourne eagerly anticipate the event as its reputation has swollen to international levels. The program this year brought a variety of films that met the expectation of film buffs and delivered new and impressive features.

For the first time the Festival was not held in its usual venue, the citadel of the Melbourne film scene, the Astor Theatre. The temporary closing of the iconic theatre was met with great anguish by the majority of film-goers. The biggest short film festival in the country would have to find a new home, and in a short space of time.

The pressure this put on the management of the event cannot be understated, with Director Paul Harris having to devise an entirely new approach to ensure that the show could indeed go on.

The initial announcement to hold the event at the St Kilda Town Hall was met with mixed reviews. Many saw the building as a representation of values, quite opposite to an artistic event of such importance.

Mayor Amanda Stevens urged patrons to support the event at its new venue. “We’re looking forward to everyone seeing the magic we’ve created at the St Kilda Town Hall,” Ms Stevens said.

The hall was completely transformed. The cooperation of the Port Phillip City council was vital in turning the venue into a genuine cinema. 300 authentic seats adorned a beautifully re-crafted viewing room with matching carpet and decorative ceiling fixtures.

The foyer and lounge underwent a masterful renovation. On entry through the front doors one could’ve been excused for thinking they had walked into an elegant theatre, and for all intensive purposes, they had.

The hall screened Australia’s top 100 short films over 10 days. All entries competed for a prize pool totalling over $50,000 and in-kind craft awards.

Programs included SoundKilda: Australia’s only dedicated music video competition, Youth programs ‘Under The Radar’ and ‘Armed & Dangerous’ and the Palm Springs International Short-fest which featured films from around the world.

This year’s special events were: an episode of 1960’s ‘The Go!!! Show’, ‘Shock Value: The Movie’ from the Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archives plus an indigenous retrospective and a program focusing on East Timor.

The St Kilda Film Festival is Australia’s longest-running short film event.

This year’s film selection had a distinctly Victorian flavour, with 40 of the top 100 films coming from the southern state.

The festival is now acknowledged by the Academy Awards, meaning films screened at the St Kilda event are eligible for consideration in the Short Film Awards and the Documentary Short sections of the Oscars.

The event really did have something for everyone; there were Melbourne-themed films, coming of age flicks, a horror fixture, children’s programs, a LGBT showcase and mixed bag sessions

The administration must be praised for their seamless production. This was a huge test of their expertise and the event was nothing but a complete success.

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