Most Exciting Directors Coming Out Of Flickerfest 2019
Seven of the most intriguing in-competition short filmmakers (and their films) at Australia’s biggest short film festival.
A New Year means new short films to see all around the world.
One of the first major short film festivals in 2019 is also Australia’s biggest: Flickerfest (January 11–20). Such incredible Aussie talents as Joel Edgerton and David Michod had early premieres here, so we only expect more great Australian cinema to come out of this festival. Not only is Flickerfest Australia’s leading Academy Accredited and BAFTA recognized short film fest, but it’s one of the only collection of short film premieres that goes on the road. With over 40 stops throughout Australia, Flickerfest is bringing quality short films to the masses.
In honor of this very special festival, we highlight some of the Australian talent we see particularly standing out in a huge way this year. This is an incredible country for short filmmaking, as we’ve had the privilege of finding out before.
Della Mortika: Carousal of Shame — Dir. Marisa Martin
Having its Australian premiere at the opening night of Flickerfest, Della Mortika is perhaps one of the most ambitious projects on the list, both in its world-building and its relationship to a companion animated TV program and book series.
Marisa, together with her mother Geraldine, have created a steampunk world set in Melbourne. Geraldine wrote the first two novels in the series, while Marisa designed and animated a new adventure for the short film Carousal of Shame. One of the most rewarding parts of the film (other than its unique cast of characters), is in its meticulous dedication to feeling like a book come to life. Filming paper puppets and pop-up animation in a stop-motion effect, this is the rare animated short film that creates something most of us have never seen before.
While Marisa is by no means new to the world of animated film (she creates on the regular for EoR Media), the more places this film gets screened, the greater exposure the rest of the world will get to her incredible visual talent.
Birdie — Dir. Shelly Lauman
Before becoming a short filmmaker, Shelly spent several years in Australia’s theater world. She first came at the craft of directing as a classically-trained actress, but just from her Master’s thesis film (she went to AFI) you can tell she’s a natural. Though Lauman has many shorts in her filmography, we think her abilities only get better with each one.
Birdie looks to continue the themes going through so many of her films, particularly that of oppressed or abused women and their strong and unconventional responses to it. In her latest films, she brings a strong sense of framing and mood that’s so hard to establish in under 15 or 20 minutes. The trailer for Birdie shows that we can expect the same here.
Ritual — Dir. Robert Linsley
We now go from a short film veteran to someone directing their debut short. Linsley is a native Australian who trained to become a director in New York City. At the New York Film Academy, he honed his craft. But he didn’t keep it there. Instead, he returned to Sydney and has been working for several years on the film now premiering at Flickerfest. As can be seen on the DP’s (Joel Froome) website, Ritual is both an epic and an intimate tale. The preview’s dark and eerie tone evokes the best of religious horror, while the large, sweeping canvases (shot on Arri Alexa XT) put this film’s production value and sense of scope up there with Hollywood productions.
Not much is known about the film (it follows a mysterious disappearance, and search that leads to surprising discoveries), but on the strength of the trailer alone, we think this is a debut worthy of seeing (either at the festival or later in its run).
Drum Wave — Dir. Natalie Erika James
Could this be our next Jennifer Kent? Some directors dabble in psychological horror, but Natalie Erika James never leaves it. And we’re happy about that. Most popular among her terrific shorts is Crestwick, a mood piece with a bone-chilling ending. This Vimeo Staff Pick put her on the map for many, but we think Drum Wave has the potential to attract an even bigger audience.
The short follows a young pianist who has married into an island community family with some strange (or horrifying) rituals. Her films always look impeccable (something both her and regular DP Charlies Sarroff create), but this film has a heightened formal rigor not seen in her previous work. The tone suggests shade of Rosemary’s Baby, but we have no doubt this film will feel fully its own.
Watch the trailer here.
Blood Orange — Dir. M.P. Wills
This film has one of the most exhilarating trailers of the whole bunch. Most surprising about it thought is its overall departure from the director’s previous short film, Smile, Lisa. That one was a touching (and highly naturalistic) look at a young couple dealing with a significant change in their lives. The film is incredibly heartfelt and sincere, but certain moments (especially the opening scene) suggest a director who is interested in capturing more idiosyncratic characters.
For a complete 180-degree turn in style and tone, this short film and commercial director has a highly-stylized, sadistic and dare we say fun(?) take on the return of unwelcome old friends. We’re not entirely sure what to make of it yet, since the trailer leaves so much up in the air, but this is certainly a director going for a very bravura directorial performance. We approve.
The Projectionist —Dir. Marcus McKenzie
This short film is considered a “proof of concept” for a much larger project, but we couldn’t help but be so moved by the trailer that we included it here. It’s the story of a recently widowed man who transports himself into the world of his Super 8 home movie projections. We love the film’s commitment to grit and texture, certainly a nod to the Super 8 film stock the main character is so transfixed by. But we also admire the ambition of making this premise fit a short film (at least for its trial run).
Screen Australia already considers McKenzie to be an emerging filmmaker, as both McKenzie and this project received funding through the “Hot Shot Initiative” that allowed this short to be made in the first place. If the trailer is any indication, we can expect more funding to line up for the more expansive treatment of the story.
Sherbert Rozencrantz, You’re Beautiful —Dir. Natalie van den Dungen
Natalie van den Dungen is a film festival pro by now. She’s had films screened at over 100 festivals worldwide. On top of her award-winning shorts, she’s also crafted short docs, music videos and TV spots. What’s most amazing? When you see all her work side by side, both commerical and personal, it all feels of one piece.
This latest short could be seen as a companion piece of sorts to her extremely popular short, Bunny New Girl. Both feature child protagonists. Both have a special quirk and charm. But Sherbert Rozencrantz shows a director looking to up her game. This time there’s higher stakes, a larger cinematic world to explore and a heightened 80s aesthetic that offers film lovers a nice mix between Wes Anderson and a Stranger Things episode.
You can find the entire Flickerfest schedule here.