The St Kilda Film Festival 2016
19th May to 28th May
Palais Theatre

I was fortunate enough to be a part of this year’s opening night of what I believe is the 33rd year of the St Kilda Film Festival. I shared this lavish affair with a 2000+ large audience of filmmakers and devoted lovers of film all celebrating the unique talent of the Australian film industry.

The festival is presented and produced by The City of Port Phillip and is “Accredited by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, the St Kilda Film Festival is now an Academy Awards® qualifying event, with award-winning films from the Festival eligible for consideration in the Short Film Awards AND Documentary Short sections of the Oscars®”.

I could not think of a more spectacular venue than The Palais Theatre to present this special event, with all it’s grandeur and history it is a perfect setting to celebrate this year’s Australian top 100 short films, by filmmakers that are both emerging and accomplished industry professionals.

After many introductory speeches, including that of Festival Director Paul Harris and MP Martin Foley, both passionate and dedicated to supporting Australian talent, plus tributes to those in the industry that have passed, screenings of some wonderful historic archives, we finally, with great anticipation, were offered a select sample of a collection of some of the best works that the 2016 program has to offer.

Approximately 8 samples of some extraordinary films and documentaries were screened, each with a running time of no more than approximately 10 to 20 minutes, showcasing a range of drama, documentary and wonderful Australian humour. Always topical, always raising awareness, Australian filmmakers are translating through film important and thought provoking issues in today’s society, both in the context of Australia and all around the world.

The opening night was a splendid representation of the sensitivity, the creativity and the amazing talent that Australian film has to offer, it is exciting to watch the unique talent of our industry.

It was hard for me to pick a favourite, but if I had to chose, I would The Flower Girl, a drama about a young girl from a rural village who is sold by her parents and forced to live with strangers and sell flowers in Bangkok. It is a very real and raw depiction of the trafficking of children. Directed by Kaz Ceh and produced by Hayley Surgenor.

On a lighter note The Strudel Sisters directed and produced by Peter Hegedus and Jaina Kalifa is a lovely documentary about two elderly sisters who share the art of making Hungarian strudel. It is a warm and humorous look at a unique lifestyle, and depicts a very deep and personal story of the mother that taught her daughters everything they know.

The St Kilda Film Festival is a great and significant event that provides opportunity and support for those in the Australian film industry by highlighting some fascinating works and in turn it’s an opportunity for the public to experience Australia’s filmmaking first hand.

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