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:: Spotlight :: 2008 St.Kilda Film Festival

By: Carmine Pascuzzi

Australia’s longest-running short film festival, the St Kilda Film Festival, will return to the Palais Theatre this year for its 25th birthday – and opens a few weeks earlier than usual on May 6. For the past two years, opening night has been held at St Kilda's Astor Theatre.

Director Paul Harris, who took over the management of the St Kilda Film Festival in 1999, can’t be more delighted. He said, “Back in 1999, numbers attending the festival had slumped, so I shifted opening night to the 3000-seat Palais Theatre, to give it more atmosphere. Apart from the special ambience of such a heritage jewel, there’s not a dud seat in the house. Even from the back row, the views are fantastic. I still remember the opening night in 1999 when Trevor Groth, the director of the Sundance Film Festival, gazed around admiringly and said, ‘They don’t make cinemas like this in Utah!’ It will be fabulous being back in such a large and beautiful venue. During the last two years at the Astor Theatre, we’ve had to cut the guest list by two-thirds. Now we can invite more local residents and more of the Melbourne film community. With 3000 celebrities, VIPs and industry powerbrokers attending the gala opening night at the Palais, the St Kilda Film Festival also provides a rare and important networking opportunity for the Australian film industry. There is no doubt it is the place to be seen!"

The opening night of the St Kilda Film Festival is likely to be the last film screening at the Palais before its $20 million refurbishment. “The St Kilda Film Festival will be a send off of sorts for the old Palais – and hopefully the start of a new era of cinema-going,” Harris said. “I’m particularly pleased that the heating will be fixed. In future, you won’t have to rug up to attend opening night.”

Holding the Festival three weeks earlier means that it’s less likely to rub up against other festivals such as the Melbourne International Film Festival, Harris says. “It also gives more time to prepare the usual national tour funded by the Australian Film Corporation. Normally, the best of the festival films tours the capital cities. This year, we plan to head for the regions, to all sorts of out-of-the-way places where they’ll really appreciate having a chance to see something different. In the capital cities, there are lots of other short film festivals competing for attention. As we discovered four years ago when we toured the best of the festival to regional Victoria, there is a huge untapped audience in the bush. We went gangbusters in East Gippsland. Shane Jacobsen’s Kenny, which then a short, screened at Poowong as part of that regional tour and that’s where Shane got the idea of holding the world premiere of the final feature film there a couple of years later.”

The annual trivia night to launch the St Kilda Film Festival program will be held at the newly refurbished St Kilda Town Hall on April 16. Harris said, "The removal of the glass wall in the auditorium has re-established the St Kilda Town Hall as an outstanding space. I’m especially thrilled that that year we can have the open night party there.”

Films are rushing into the City of Port Phillip’s art and festival unit to meet the February 1 deadline for entries. The top 100 films will be shown, along with the usual music video finalists. Details of the international program are still being finalised. Apart from opening night, the festival screens at the George Cinema complex in Fitzroy Street.

This year, for the first time, the St Kilda Film Festival has announced an open entry youth film competition. If you are under 20 years of age on May 6, you are able to submit an entry in the competition. Places are limited. So, hurry up and enter! Entries close on the March 13, 2008.

Entry forms and the competition’s terms and conditions can be downloaded from here and they can also be mailed by ringing 03 9209 6167.

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**Official Launch**

The St Kilda Film Festival announced the 100 Australian short films that will screen at the 25th St Kilda Film Festival from May 6-11, 2008.

Festival Director, Paul Harris said, “As always, we received an amazingly diverse bunch of entries – more than anything though, it really is encouraging to see so many new Australian filmmakers emerge among our regular favourites. Short film is such an important stomping ground for filmmakers – the real beauty of short film is that is allows filmmakers to experiment and innovate within a compact structure and this year’s St Kilda Film Festival proves that more then ever.”

Opening Night will return to the beautiful Palais Theatre and trumpets the world premiere of producer Melanie Coombs’ (Harvie Krumpet) much anticipated follow up The Funk; first time filmmaker Sean Kruck presents the premiere of Summer Breaks starring Mia Wasikowska; lending her hand to another short film on opening night, Wasikowska stars alongside Damon Herriman in Len’s Love Story; straight from competition at the Berlin International Film Festival comes Yolk, the story of a teenager with down syndrome exploring the rebellious impulses of sex, boys and growing up; and cultural likeness is explored in Wind.

The ‘Top 100’ short films will screen across 15 competition sessions as part of the St Kilda Film Festival National Short Film Competition. With over $33,000 worth of cash and in-kind craft awards, including a $10,000 cash prize for Best Short Film, entrants are vying for some excellent prizes which will assist them further their filmmaking careers.

Now in its seventh year, SoundKILDA gives audiences the opportunity to watch music videos on the cinema screen, providing the creative team behind the production a chance to have their work and skills recognised. The program features an incredible array of directing and music talent across a broad spectrum of styles. From the rocking sounds of Silverchair (Dir. Paul Goldman & Alice Bell) and moving ballads of Paul Kelly (Dir. Natasha Pincus) to the new sounds of Gotye (Dir. Renata Bliss) – this jam packed session program has something for everyone.

Among the Festival’s five days, curated packages from Interfilm Berlin - Confrontations & South Korean programs will screen as well as a collection of winning shorts from the 2008 Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival.

The festival also hosts free industry events aimed informing and introducing new filmmakers to the world of short film both in Australia and overseas, including; Australian Film Festival’s which comprises a panel of short film experts from a variety of festivals including MIFF, BIFF and Flickerfest; Australian Film Funding forum where representatives from funding agencies come together to present an overview; International Film Festivals – hear guests from Interfilm Berlin and Clermont-Ferrand discuss strategies for entering shorts in European Film Festivals; and the Industry Day, which brings all these elements together in one big room of stalls.

The St Kilda Film Festival runs from May 6-11 in Melbourne before embarking on a national tour – 26 locations across all states, including all capital cities.

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**Winners**

Leon Ford’s ‘Katoomba’ was announced as the winner for the Best Film and Best Director at this year’s St Kilda Film Festival. Starring Emma Lung and nominated for an AFI Award in 2008, the film is about a defining moment in a relationship between two girls. Teagan McCarthy’s personal film, My Dad Susan, won the award for Best Documentary and Luci Temple’s Don’t Panic won Best Comedy.

The top 100 short films screened across 15 competition sessions as part of the St Kilda Film Festival National Short Film Competition. With over $33,000 worth of cash and in-kind craft awards, including a $10,000 cash prize for Best Short Film.

AWARD WINNERS:

BEST SHORT FILM - Katoomba
DIRECTOR Leon Ford
PRODUCER Melissa Johnston & Nicole O’Donohue
Proudly sponsored by City of Port Phillip

BEST DOCUMENTARY - My Dad Susan
DIRECTOR/PRODUCER Teagan McCarthy
Proudly Sponsored by ACMI

BEST DIRECTOR - Leon Ford Katoomba
Proudly Sponsored by Animal Logic and ADG

BEST ANIMATION - The Girl Who Swallowed Bees
DIRECTOR Paul McDermott
PRODUCER Justine Kerrigan
Proudly Sponsored by MadMan Entertainment

BEST COMEDY - Don’t Panic
DIRECTOR Luci Temple
PRODUCER Luci Temple & Vilash Patel
Proudly Sponsored by Cameraquip

BEST ACTOR (Tied result)
Damon Herriman - Len’s Love story
Luke Elliot - Dugong
Proudly Sponsored by Dogs Bar

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN CINEMATOGRAPHY - Greig Fraser Crossbow
Proudly Sponsored by KODAK

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SCREENPLAY - Erin White Dugong
Proudly Sponsored by CINEMA NOVA AND AUSTRALIAN WRITERS GUILD

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN EDITING - Tamara Meem Shadow Play
Proudly Sponsored by Digital Pictures

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL EFFECTS - Andy Canny at Plus Films in conjunction with Cinevex - Advantage
Proudly Sponsored by Complete Post

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN SOUND POST PRODUCTION - Pete Smith, Martyn Zub Spike Up
Proudly Sponsored by Music and Effects

BEST ORIGINAL SCORE - Michael Askill Eclipse
Proudly Sponsored by Monkeesee

SBS TELEVISION AWARD - The Funk
DIRECTOR Cris Jones
PRODUCER Melanie Coombs
Proudly Sponsored by SBS

BEST YOUTH SHORT FILM - Mona
PRODUCER Charlotte Rose Hamlyn
Proudly Sponsored by City of Port Phillip

CRAFT AWARD - The Girl in the Moon
DIRECTOR Alethea Jones
PRODUCER Alethea Jones
Proudly Sponsored by Film Victoria

MOST POSITIVE IMAGE OF AGEING - NANA
DIRECTOR Warwick Thornton
PRODUCER Kath Shelper
Proudly Sponsored by Department of Planning and Community Development

BEST ACHIEVEMENT IN INDIGENOUS FILMMAKING - Brother Boys
DIRECTOR Simon Blyth
PRODUCER Monique De Groot
Proudly Sponsored by National Indigenous Television and Open Channel

BEST MUSIC VIDEO - Pulse
DIRECTOR JUSTIN KURZEL
PRODUCER PIP SMART
ARTIST THE MESS HALL
Sponsored by: Video Craft

BEST MUSIC VIDEO ANIMATION - You’ll Change
DIRECTOR JONATHAN NIX
PRODUCER J WALKER & JONATHAN NIX
ARTIST MACHINE TRANSLATIONS
Sponsored by: SPAA

Music Video Audience Award (tied result) - Keep Walking - The Mess Hall
DIRECTOR: JUSTIN KURZEL
PRODUCER: PIP SMART

Thanks For Your Time - Gotye
DIRECTOR: LUCY DYSON
PRODUCER: LUCY DYSON