"... the media isn't representing them, it doesn't change how they think or feel, or their worldview."
When we call Bronwyn Kidd, she has had a busy morning, but then, "They're all pretty busy." It's understandable, Australia's premier competitive film festival, Flickerfest, is celebrating a landmark year in 2016 - '25 years in hot shorts' - and as Festival Director, Kidd has a lot on her plate, "I could work 80 hours a week and it wouldn't be enough," she laughs. "It's just about bigger than Ben-Hur."
Not that she isn't up to the task. This is Kidd's 19th year at the helm, a two-decade stint that's seen the festival go from strength to strength. What started as a local festival at Balmain High School a quarter century ago has since grown into an Academy-accredited and BAFTA-recognised national event, and it's only getting bigger. This year Flickerfest has added several stops on its national tour (now up to 52), broadened its programme list, and received over 2300 entries from local and international directors, a number that needed to be cut down to a more manageable 120. "It's a huge undertaking," says Kidd. "We've got around 60 people working over a six-month period."
"People are making films on their phones; they have editing software at home. They can make contemporary, independent films without the box office looming over them."
Kidd has stated that short film is the medium of the newest generation of storytellers, which might in part explain the festival's success. "It's accessible. People are making films on their phones; they have editing software at home. They can make contemporary, independent films without the box office looming over them. [They have] lots to say and the media isn't representing them, it doesn't change how they think or feel, or their worldview."
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And the programme represents its diverse contributors. There's Nan And A Whole Lot Of Trouble, a poignant, humorous short drama directed by Aussie Dena Curtis and Oscar Wilde's The Nightingale And The Rose, an animated collaboration between director Brendan Fletcher and two-time Archibald-winning artist Del Kathryn. You can see Giovanni And The Water Ballet, directed by Astrid Bussink, the story of a young boy that desperately wants to compete in the Dutch synchronised swimming championship, or the confronting Nowhere Line: Voices From Manus Island, an animated short by Lukas Schrank that documents the journeys of two men detained for seeking refuge in Australia.
It's about sharing stories, "expressing diversity", and "encouraging discussion and communication". But it's also about keeping things "innovative, fresh, and most importantly, fun", says Kidd. "You shouldn't come because you think it's 'worthy' ... Our main goal is to create a great audience experience."
When asked if she thought she would still be directing the festival in 2016 way back when, Kidd doesn't think twice. "Not at all! It went so quickly, the years just sort of blend together. We're incredibly busy and there's no real gap. But it's a vocation..." Do a job you love and you'll never work a day in your life? "Yes, exactly."