By Bronwen Beechey
MELBOURNE — The short film, a poor relation of cinema for years, is experiencing something of a resurgence. Films like Ana Kokkinis' Only the Brave have won international awards and cinema distribution. Some of the more adventurous art house cinemas are now featuring short films as a regular part of their programs.
This interest can be attributed largely to the St Kilda Film Festival, for 11 years the country's only festival devoted to Australian short films. This year's festival moves to a new venue, the fabulous art deco Astor Theatre. New director Peter Kauffman, in addition to assembling an exciting program of new short films, has instituted two new sessions.
The first will be a retrospective of short films by Australian directors who have gone on to achieve international success. Jane Campion, P.J. Hogan, Fred Schepisi, Gillian Armstrong and Paul Cox are some of those represented.
The second initiative investigates the impact of new technologies on both the craft and vision of film makers in the '90s. As well as work from independent producers, the program will feature recent examples from the commercial sector, ranging from documentaries and animation to music clips and commercials.
However, the festival is first and foremost a vehicle for new short films. Some highlights include:
- Approximately Panther, directed by Peter J. Lamb, a slice of life from the swinging '60s. In 1966 Doug Panther, editor of Go Set magazine, set out to document the fashion and entertainment trends of the time. This film shows what he found.
- Gorgeous, which tackles plastic surgery, beauty therapy and bulimia through the animated exploits of Kaz Cooke's feminist icon, Hermoine.
- Toni Collette (Muriel's Wedding), twirling a baton in Kelli Simpson's The Marching Girl Thing, which interlaces the weird culture of the marching girl team with a young woman's coming of age and coming out.
- An examination of the new puritanism toward sexual behaviour and safe sex in Doerthe Jansen's In Bed With Your Neighbours, which questions the traditional concepts of family and monogamy.
The runs April 21-25. For details of session times and programs, call (03) 209 6711.