The SmartFone Flick Fest (SF3) gala turned Chauvel Cinema in Paddington into the place to be in Sydney if you’re interested in independent filmmaking. I mingled with the excited crowd before we all filed in for the main event: watching dozens of short films, all created on smart phones.
That’s right. The humble smartphone now has cameras good enough for filmmakers — both pro and amateur — to create fabulous stories. Years ago, I participated in the 24 Hour Film Festival in Wellington, through the good graces of friends with professional cameras. These days, it’s so much more accessible.
Which is why it was fantastic watching the variety of filmmakers and performers. Several teens took part, and actors weren’t all professionals. Plus the entrants came from around the globe.
There was one poignant of the night. When Ren Thackham took out the prize for best female director (out of only two women), her poignant speech was directed at the 11-year-old girl who starred in her film. Thackham pointed out that her young charge only has a 20% chance of ever seeing a woman accept a prize like that; but with this award, she’s guaranteed to see herself reflected every year.
It was all the more joyous when Thackham then went on to scoop the awards ceremony.
She won Best Film, Best Cinematography and Best Director Awards for her eerie feature Rearview. Thackham’s gripping feature ‘instantly stood out due to the innovative use of cameras and mirrors, delivering a bone-chilling story of paranormal activity’. I’ll certainly admit that I jumped a few times!
Other award winners on the night included:
The runner up Award for the Best Cinematography went to US filmmaker Blake Worrell, for his feature Dissolution. This emotional drama used minimal narrative and relies heavily on emotional undertones as the audience explore the trauma of a child’s death, producing an extremely emotive short film.
The Good Profile (Le Bon Profil) from French filmmaker Anthony Faye snapped up the Best Screenwriter Award. Faye’s clever exploration of modern day social norms, and the use of social media to analyse an individual’s character, teamed with a perfectly executed screenplay secured the 2017 title.
BEST ACTOR / ACTRESS AWARD
The award for Best Actor went to Tasmanian actor Tommy Field for his portrayal of Zachary, the lead role in Zachary Vs. The World. Best Actress went to Sydney actress Kirsty McKenzie for her lead role as the damsel in distress in Rearview.
AUSTRALIAN KIDS FLICK PICK AWARD
The Award for Australian Kids Flick Picks went to Melbourne filmmaker Callum Pritchard, for his feature Behind Closed Doors. Pritchard’s drama takes the audience into a suburban home where domestic violence
and mental abuse is a day to day occurrence, and follows the abused child who runs away to escape her reality.
INTERNATIONAL KIDS FLICK PICK AWARD
US Filmmaker Jared Press took the International Kids Flick Award. Jared’s feature The Player is a hilarious look down the rabbit hole of what it would be like if we had the power to control the actions of others, based on the roll of a dice.
The #FILMBREAKER Award went to Anita Agathangelou, Brenton Gardiner, Kara Haarburger, John Lee, Corey Martin and Max Schleser, a group of Melbourne filmmakers for their documentary Space Van Man. The documentary follows Adrian, a quirky and eccentric man who travels Australia in his self-proclaimed space van, attending festivals and cultural events bringing bucket loads of comedy, wit and charm.
FOUNDERS PICK FLICK AWARD
For 2017 the Founders Pick Flick Award went to Hold The Pineapple, from Sydney filmmaker Ben Wilding. A comedy feature that follows an arrogant pizza delivery boy, who’s unsympathetic response to the plight of his customers soon catches up with him, leading to a dramatic fruit based downfall.
Iranian filmmaker Sohelia Golestani took the inaugural SF360 Award for her feature If You Go Away (Ne Me Quitte Pas). Golestani’s film shot in 360 has no narrative and explores the anguish and heartbreak felt by families that have to leave their homes, loved ones and everything they know.
The People’s Choice Award was presented to Los Angeles-based director Rafael Keric, for his feature Asphyxia. Keric’s explorative drama looks into the human psyche, and the destructive and potentially fatal taboo practices and addictions we embrace, despite their devastating effects.
With $10,000 worth of prizes awarded on the night, the SmartFone Flick Fest is a magnificent testament to Australian and international talent. Long may it continue!
Co-founder of The Plus Ones, Theresa is tempted to enter next year’s festival. Watch this space.
Visit www.sf3.com.au for more information and to be inspired to create your own film next year.