Last Sunday an audience of West Enders and film enthusiasts gathered together on a cool Autumn evening in the Rumpus Room car park. The occasion was the 4th annual West End Film Festival, which showcases short films from all over the country. This year, there were two sessions with 15 films in total.
As the sun began to go down and the coloured lights came on to illuminate the trees, the punters began arriving. Film aficionados gathered around the makeshift bar set up at the back entrance of the Rumpus Room. Inside the shed at the back of the car park (the original home of the festival) was a travelling café tucked into a pale blue Kombi van, an interesting sculpture made out of old magazines, and a merchandise stall selling t-shirts and sweets to nibble on during the night.
Rows of cardboard folded stools lined the car park in front of a large screen that would project the carefully selected films. The weather was fine, which meant we could sit comfortably on our recyclable chairs – amongst (around) 100 others who were keen to see what this year’s festival had in store. Festival Director Mike Witt, who had an interesting take on the role of emcee, opened the night with an acknowledgment of the traditional owners of the land and a short overview of the night. I glanced down at my program to see the list of films for session one: First contact (21:00), Mud Crab (5:35), Hummingbirds (7:50), Bride Can (15:00, Boot (9:18), Bat Eyes (10:41), Ellipsis (7:00).
I particularly enjoyed Ellipsis, a film about a grammar and punctuation teacher who reveals the details of her heartbreaking relationship to her class. As a grammar connoisseur I enjoyed the way that the narrative of the woman’s life was introduced through her in-class grammar exercises and linked together through the explanation of the roles of punctuation. We find out gradually that the main character has been involved in a passionate relationship that deteriorated and eventually ended when her partner jumps from a bridge to his death. The teacher begins her class by explaining the deconstruction of a simple sentence ‘John loved Alison’. ‘John’ being the subject, ‘loved’ the verb, and ‘Alison’ (she says ‘one has the taste to call Alison the object’) is the object of the sentence. The film had beautiful cinematography and an innovative plot line that was engaging throughout the whole seven minutes.
I spoke to the producer of the film Ellipsis, Sara Taghaode, after she had received the Community Award from Helen Abrahams. Sara told me that writer Patrick Carr had originally submitted the script as part of a QPIX programme; Directors Mairi Cameron and Stephen Lance came on board later. The co-directors were unable to be at the festival on the night because Stephen’s first feature film, My Mistress, was in its editing process in Melbourne.
The film that had the strongest audience reaction (in the form of uncontrollable laughter) was Igor Corie and Sheldon Lieberman’s animation Mud Crab. The show won the QANTM College sponsored award for best animation on the night. Igor received the award and seemed to be a little in shock over the attention he was receiving. The film was a short hand-drawn animation about a father and son who had just caught a mud crab. The son wanted to help his dad get the crab out of the trap but his father was hesitant to allow the young boy to approach the (semi) dangerous crustacean. Igor said that the audio from the film was raw sound from an event that really took place is Sheldon Lieberman’s home. Igor and Sheldon work together using sound captured from real life events to influence their animations.
Although I only attended the first session of the festival it was encouraging to see such a strong crop of Australian up and coming film makers. The festival was well organised and had that distinctive relaxed West End vibe to it. If you didn’t attend this year make sure you keep your eyes out for next year’s festival dates.