Three minutes of fame


By Bronwen Beechey
Over the next two weeks Sydney and Melbourne will host the White Gloves National Film Festival, the only silent black and white shoot-to-show film festival in the world. First held in 1989 to mark the centenary of the invention of cinematic filmstock by George Eastman, White Gloves challenges aspiring film makers to practice their art under the same restrictions that faced the pioneers of film.
The rules are simple: all films submitted must be black and white, silent, shot on either Super 8 or 16mm film within the same 48-hour period, edited in camera and run for only three minutes. The subject matter is entirely up to the film maker; there is no censorship and anyone can take part.
Neil Varga, a Melbourne tram conductor, has entered films in the last two festivals and has another entry in this year. He says that although he has no real ambition to go professional, he has got a lot out of his involvement.
"The first time I entered I'd never used a movie camera." Last year his entry Junk Mail was voted one of the 30 best entries out of a field of 120. "The biggest buzz is seeing your film up on screen, even if it is just for three minutes", Varga said.
Renn Barker, the festival's Melbourne organiser, is amazed at the festival's growth in popularity. "It started off almost as a joke, but each year we've had a 20% increase in entries and more and more interstate entries. Last year we decided to have a Brisbane festival which was a great success." This year Sydney also has its own screenings.
Barker believes that the secret of White Gloves' success is its accessibility. "Anyone who's ever wanted to make a film can do it. The participants range from people who never picked up a camera before to professionals who find it really refreshing to work with no budget and no pressure from clients."
The premiere screenings for the White Gloves Film Festival will take place in Brisbane on October 1 at the Hoyts Regent at 7.30pm; in Sydney on October 4 at the Valhalla at 7.30pm; and in Melbourne on October 7 at the National Theatre at 7.30pm. For more information phone Brisbane 3368 1820, Sydney 212 6419, or Melbourne 9534 9953.

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