mid-century maunderings for men who know better
Shorts and documentaries are the reason I love film festivals. Features can be seen at the cinema, and if they aren’t released (until recently), hired from your excellent local video shop. I remember when short films accompanied features at the cinema. Nowadays they are used as a calling card by upcoming filmmakers or an amuse bouche by established ones. Seeing Australian shorts gives you an opportunity to sample as yet undiscovered talent and maybe catch a glimpse of some famous soap opera star doing someone a favour.
However, I would advise, if you are at all interested in Australian short films, that you find a way of seeing them that does not involve sitting in a cinema at MIFF or (probably) any other festival. ACMI has an accessible archive, as do other repositories, which may be a good place to start. Why? Because, such is the vanity of each short film’s producer, once their film has finished, they rise with their entourage and sweep out of the cinema with a noisy flourish. It’s worse than a school concert. This can happen a dozen times in a session. It is infuriating. Australian short film producers should be made to pay a bond which they forfeit if they don’t stay to the end of the session. The same goes for parents at school concerts.
Out of the eleven shorts offered in the Australian Shorts program, only one is worth seeing. The others aren’t bad. They tick all the boxes: quirky, bushy, suburban, worthy and touching. They do not disgrace the people involved in their making but ultimately are forgettable. They are safe, easy to watch films. One or two could be better written and directed but why quibble?
Accelerator 2 are Australian and New Zealand films that have received a grant provided by MIFF. The contrast is interesting. Each one of these films was absorbing and unusual. Without exception, each film in this program offered a challenging idea executed in a brisk efficient way. Without a good original idea, all you have is people talking and some photography. Talk is cheap. Photography is even cheaper.
International Shorts 1 was an enjoyable program marred only by Curmudgeons. It hides its punchline well but doesn’t deliver the laughs or poignancy it strives for. Seide stands out as a film that strives for nothing and tells a tragic and universal story experienced by women on every continent.
I love animation. I was an eager attendant of the first few MIAFs ( Melbourne International Animation Festival). In this year’s MIFF, I saw three animated features and loved them. The shorts, not so much. None seemed to be anything more than an exploration of technique. This was not a problem, I can happily watch swirling incoherent images for a few minutes at a time. After a while it gets tedious. All these films were short. The program was almost two hours. Apart from a couple, they all looked great. One had a nice Charley Harper look. Overall, none engaged my interest.