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Entries in Short Film (4)



Tickets available from the Event Cinemas George Street box office and online here

Australia’s leading celebration of science-fiction cinema, the SciFi Film Festival, has a wondrous line-up of breathtaking works from the planet’s most visionary filmmakers as part of their fifth anniversary edition.

From 18th to 21st October, Sydney audiences seeking an adventurous movie-going experience will converge on the Event Cinemas George St complex to view 25 groundbreaking genre works from 11 countries, including two world premieres, 18 Australian premieres and 3 New South Wales premieres. (Pictured, above; Dan Prince's short Invaders) 

Nine features and 16 short films will play across the four days of the SciFi Film Festival. Countries represented include Australia (6 films), the United Kingdom (5), the U.S.A. (4), Germany (2), Canada (2), Hong Kong (1), France (1), The Netherlands (1), Lebanon (1), Austria (1) and the Dominican Republic (1).   

Opening Night audiences will be treated to a thrilling, unique cinematic experience with the Australian premiere of Johann Lurf’s ★ (pictured, right). This towering achievement examines how the night sky and the deep void that lies beyond, has been portrayed on screen in 100 years of cinema. The Austrian ‘constructuralist’ has compiled starscapes from over 550 films, from the silent era to 2018, resulting in a captivating work of the imagination; a montage-doc that celebrates humanity’s drive to explore the galaxy and how filmmakers have conjured that experience for us all.

Screening on Friday October 19 are films that will explore the ‘alien’ sub-genre. To commemorate the 25th anniversary of her iconic TV show ‘The X-Files’, Gillian Anderson will re-engage with her loyal fanbase with the Australian premiere of the conspiracy-theory thriller, UFO. Close out your Friday evening of extra-terrestrial interaction with CANARIES, a ‘Shaun-of-the-Dead’-style comedy/sci-fi romp in which Welsh New Year’s Eve partygoers must face off against an invading intergalactic force.

Across the weekend, the eclectic program will present films that have played such festivals as Karlovy Vary, FrightFest, Sitges and Sundance: Direct from its award-winning World Premiere at SXSW, PROSPECT stars the remarkable Sophie Thatcher in an interplanetary survival thriller; Dominican director Héctor Valdez remakes the Australian time-travel/rom-com ‘The Infinite Man’ as the delightfully off-kilter romp PEACHES; and, the rise of A.I. and the impact of sentient robotics is explored in the quietly-frightening documentary, MORE HUMAN THAN HUMAN.

Two Australian features are highlights of the 2018 features roster. Director Adam Harris will present his heart-warming ‘Star Wars’-themed documentary, MY SAGA, followed by a Q&A session with his friend and co-host of SBS’s ‘The Feed’ program, Marc Fennell; and, direct from its World Premiere at the Karlovy Vary Film Festival, the confronting dramatic feature REFLECTIONS IN THE DUST (pictured, right) will be presented by writer/director Luke Sullivan for a session that is sure to inspire a passionate post-screening panel discussion, to be hosted by Fiona Williams, host of the hit podcast Eyes on Gilead and managing editor of SBS Movies.

Closing Night will be a celebration of ‘80s nuclear paranoia, with final-session honours bestowed upon the cult classic MIRACLE MILE. Writer/director Steve De Jarnatt’s 1989 romantic thriller, starring Anthony Edwards and Mare Winningham and featuring a soundtrack by Tangerine Dream, will see the inside of a Sydney cinema for the first time in three decades. Ahead of the feature presentation, director Johann Earl will screen the World Premiere of his alien warzone actioner SHIFT, starring Bianca Bradey (‘Wyrmwood: Road of The Dead’).

Soaring visions and complex themes are central to the 2018 short films selection. The 16 shorts feature a selection of truly inspired cinematic works from such fields as animation (Alex Fung’s EKO); steampunk-influenced animatronics (Fadi Baki Fdz’s MANIVELLE: THE LAST DAYS OF THE MAN OF TOMORROW); music video aesthetics (Marc Adamson’s AFTER WE HAVE LEFT OUR HOMES); experimental (Xavier Brydges’ WESTALL); and, effects-heavy deep-space drama (Bobby Bala’s THE SHIPMENT). One of Australia’s most respected film journalists, Travis Johnson, will host a Q&A with attending directors on the passion for genre storytelling that drives their short film projects.

All features will be in Official Competition for festival honours in the categories Best Film, Actor, Actress, Music/Sound and Effects. Short films will vie for awards in Best Australian and Best International categories. The Jury Members will be announced closer to the festival dates.

The Sci-Fi Film Festival supports positive gender representation in its 2018 selection; 16 of the 25 productions (or 64%) feature a woman in one of the four key production positions. Five female directors have their works represented in the program - JESSICA CHAMPNEYS (‘Star Wars: Dresca’, US); SOPHIA SCHONBORN (‘Spacedogs’, Germany), KAT WOOD (‘Stine’, U.K.), FEMKE WOLTING (co-director, ‘More Human Than Human’, The Netherlands) and EMILY LIMYUN DEAN (‘Andromeda’, Australia/U.S./Germany; pictured, above).

Making its debut in 2018 is The SciFi Film Festival Vanguard Award, presented to an individual whose unique creative endeavours display a determination and fearlessness in the face of adversity. The inaugural honouree will be 2000 Sydney Paralympian-turned-actress, Sarah Houbolt, star of REFLECTIONS IN THE DUST.

SCREEN-SPACE is an Official Media Partner of the 2018 SciFi Film Festival.





IFFR 2018: Works from all corners of the international short film community earned plaudits when the judging panel at the International Film Festival Rotterdam (IFFR) announced the Ammodo Tiger Short Film competition winners on Sunday January 28.

The jury consisted of Chinese filmmaker Ying Liang, who won a Tiger Short trophy in 2009 for Condolences; Dutch graphic designer Mieke Gerritzen; and, Kenyan filmmaker Jim Chuchu, founder of Nairobi-based arts initiative The Nest Collective. The winners were chosen from a field of 22 entrants, including 14 world premieres.

The three films to each earn the €5,000 cash prize were Mountain Plain Mountain, a co-production from Spain, Japan and The Netherlands co-directed by Araki Yu and Daniel Jacoby; director Sara Cwynar’s iPhone teen odyssey Rose Gold (pictured, right), from The USA; and, the latest installment of Thai artist Korakrit Arunanondchai’s meditative and sombre consideration of death, With History in a Room Filled with People with Funny Names 4, which draws upon the cultures of The USA, Thailand, South Africa and The United Kingdom. (Pictured, top; IFFR directors Bero Beyer, left, and Janneke Staarink, right, with Daniel Jacoby, Araki Yu, Sara Cwynar, and European Film Award nominee Heather Phillipson).

The jury commended the diversity of the narratives while recognising the humanism that binds the winning films. On Mountain Plain Mountain, they stated  “the directors find the microcosmos into which all the loneliness and the isolation of human beings is to be found.” In discussing Rose Gold, the jury said, “The film has been chosen because of the innocent imagery that also makes us feel uncomfortable, because we know that our world isn’t sweet and soft only.”

Arunanondchai’s work (pictured, left) earned particularly high praise, the jury remarking, “There are moments of breathtaking beauty in this ambitious, sprawling, yet deeply moving film. This film reminds us that for all our tech-enabled and capital-fuelled hubris, we remain lonely as we reach for greater meaning, staying inevitably mortal.”

Also honoured was Heather Phillipson’s WHAT’S THE DAMAGE from the U.K. (pictured, right), a timely reaction to the patriarchal white power cabals that govern world. The film was nominated by the IFFR judging panel to compete in the short film category at European Film Awards, to be held in Seville on December 15. "An amazing and original work with unexpected imagery composed as a new aesthetic,” noted the Tiger Short jury, noting, "There is infinite room in the world for cultural works that dissect, critique and rebuke the ghastly political phenomenon that is Trump, and WHAT’S THE DAMAGE is a worthy addition to that canon."

Amongst those competing for the IFFR Tiger Short awards were Australian-born, Paris-based Mel O’Callaghan with Dangerous on the Way, a shared production between Australia and Borneo.

All the nominated films will be screened over the remaining days of the IFFR, which runs until Sunday February 4 at various venues across Rotterdam.



For a moment, imagine that the arduous slog undertaken by the next-no-budget short film auteur is not already daunting enough. How could a filmmaker make the thankless journey exponentially more difficult? For Chris Elena, the answer was clear – forego all the burden-easing advancements made in digital camera tech and embrace every production problem presented by shooting on film. The result - a 15-minute contemporary drama called The Limited – is a testament to the drive and commitment synonymous with the origins of the art form…

“Film's aesthetic is warm and cinematic, which we wanted and needed for a film mostly set in small places with cold individuals,” says Elena, a respected voice and popular personality amongst the young turks of Sydney’s film-writing community. His vocal passion for the works of Paul Thomas Anderson fuels his own directorial flair for ‘pure cinema’; The Limited is a small-scale examination of the impact of schoolyard stories and macho posturing that soars emotionally and thematically through the use of Kodak 16mm stock. (Pictured, top; Elena, centre, with crew during the shoot).

“We needed to tell this story on 16mm, which has its own unique cinematic language,” say Elena, his script drawing upon his own experiences at an all-boy Catholic high school in the 2000s. “We shot on one location, with very little coverage, a narrative that is essentially four people telling each other lies that will impact their lives. We knew film (would) elevate that simplicity.”

With a ready-to-go script, Elena also knew that timing was crucial if he was to realise his ambitious production; once-giant film supplier Fujifilm had shuttered its film stock division in March 2013, with rumours circulating that Kodak were poised to do the same. “This was the medium I had learned about, had believed in the magic of since deciding to be a director at the age of 9,” he confides. “I wanted The Limited to be greater than the script I had written and for that, for me to be a better director and do this story and everyone who believed in it some justice, I needed film.” (Pictured, right; the young cast of The Limited)

Mentored into production by industry veteran, the late J. Harkness and employing an experienced DOP in Kym Vaitiekus, Elena realised a dream when he called ‘action’ on a tight 2-day shoot in 2014. “We had eight 400-foot reels, 3,200 feet of 16mm film,” he recalls. “As soon as you start rolling, you have 9½ minutes, or one standard roll of film, to get it perfect. We would shoot each take, change reels, place the film in a black bag and have it sent to be processed at the lab, all at once.” The process made for a focussed, energised set, with cast and crew fully aware of the limitations of film. “Each take has to be better,” says Elena. “When you're shooting on film, you allow yourself to trust whoever is looking at that monitor; they trust your word as they know this footage is precious.” 

Throughout the shoot and well into post-production, the young filmmaker was reminded of why film had fallen out of favour in the face of the digital revolution. “It’s horribly expensive,” Elena bemoans, despite an end-to-end budget of just in excess of A$5000 and made without any grant assistance. “Then the lab could get it wrong, the dallies don't look like what you saw in the monitor, sound editing and mixing is a nightmare with the noise from the camera making an appearance in every take.”

Having spent the best part of 2015 in the edit suite with Vaitiekus and cutter Leslie Heldzingen crafting his vision, Chris Elena is now in a position to consider the end product of his obsession with traditional celluloid. “We didn’t get the amount of coverage we wanted, but we made it work in the end,” he concludes. “We could've created this on digital but it never would have looked and felt this way. The raw dallies - without a colour grade, with minor scratches and dust on the frame - looked like what I always imagined films to look like. Every take we got, the work and effort was on display.” (Pictured, left; the director preparing a shot on the set of The Limited)

And, no, the director is not finished crusading for the existence of film stock. “I'll try to shoot on film until there's not a single reel left that Kodak can give me,” he declares. “The effort and potential for magic that comes with it is worth it in every way imaginable.”



The first thing that strikes you about Josh Tanner is that he certainly looks like the current crop of young directors ruling the film world. Resembling a genetic level mash-up of JJ Abrams, Joss Wheedon and Wes Anderson, the Brisbane-based 26-year-old is also displaying the artistry and genre savvy of his doppelgangers; his fourth short film, The Landing, has spent the last 8 months sweeping award after award on the global festival circuit (most recently, the Best International Live Action Short at the prestigious Fantaspoa event). Ahead of his films sessions at Revelation 2014, Tanner spoke to SCREEN-SPACE about its origins, the filmmakers that inspire him and the complex production elements required to realise his unique vision... 

The Landing looks to be crafted by a filmmaker who imagined in detail each frame before stepping behind the camera. What were the narrative's origin?

As clichéd as it sounds, the concept of the film came out of a dream. I was in the middle of a barren field, painfully digging though dirt with my bare hands, eventually unearthing what appeared to be a buried spacecraft. A concept emerged involving the suppression of a UFO landing, not by the usual “government types”, but by the normal people that bear witness to it. This intriguing kernel unravelled into a story that my co-writer and producer Jade van der Lei and I got really excited about. The idea of delving into the cold-war 1950/60s era, which was a golden age of Science Fiction, was also an awfully exciting prospect. (Tanner, on set; pictured, right)

The pov the film shares with the boy can easily by classified as 'Spielbergian', but there are many other reference points. Who are the filmmakers and what are the films that inspire you and influenced The Landing?

There is an awful lot of Terrance Malick influence in there. Days of Heaven was a huge inspiration on visual style and location. Also Tree Of Life, (which provided) a structural and thematic point of view when it came to relationships with our parents and our connection to the past. There was definitely part of me that wondered what a Terrance Malick Sci-Fi film would look like, and hopefully we’ve achieved 1% of what that hypothetical film might be. I’d also be lying if I didn’t say that Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind and ET as well as Kubrick’s 2001 weren’t also major influences on the film.

It is a film that shifts seamlessly between styles and genres; it is a memory piece, a political work, a domestic drama, a sci-fi vision. What themes and arcs most clearly define your directorial intent?

It sounds like a pun, but alienation really is the central theme of the film, and permeates the films relationships and broader concepts. It’s the alienation between a boy (Tom Usher; pictured, top) and his father (Henry Nixon; pictured, left), their ideologies, their innocence and maturity, and their past and present. The crash-landing of this visitor brings them both a dark but alluring adventure, and the potential fulfilment of their own personal obsessions, which ultimately stand only to distract them from their alienation from each other. But it is though this very encounter, that the characters are forced to come face to face with these obsessions, and make life-altering decisions for better, or worse.

Securing the likes of leading man David Roberts (The Square; Getting' Square) and behind-the-scenes contributors such as production designer Chris Cox (Acolytes; At World's End) and composer Guy Gross must have been significant moments. How did the pre-production progress?

We were so fortunate to work with an army of incredibly talented and creative artists. We were faced with the challenge of trying to make an Australian short film masquerade as a Hollywood feature in terms of aesthetic. Setting the film in rural America in the early 60’s was something concrete and necessary on a story level, so it was about relying on our dedicated team to figure out how we’d do that. The thing that crystallised everything was the discovery of 'the Barn' location (pictured, right), which is actually an abandoned set, originally built in Tamworth for Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns. This kind of Midwest American architecture does not exist in this country, so it became a real inspiration to our team to strive to make everything as authentic to the period and geography of the story as that barn was.

With all those elements in place, how did the shoot itself come together?

The shoot was a Frankenstein process, building sets, travelling out to barren farmland, and wheat fields and stitching it all together with the help of an expert team of visual effects artists. (They) deserve a great deal of recognition because while the films production design, cinematography (Tanner with DOP Jason Hargreaves, on set; pictured, left), score and sound design are all obvious in their merits, the visual effects are those of an almost thankless kind. Meaning they’re effects that you’re not supposed to believe are effects. The greatest lesson I learned as a director has been to remain faithful to the scale of your vision, and stick to your guns without being unreasonable. There were many times when funding bodies, or industry associates recommended that we change the films setting to Australia. Despite feeling the odds were heavily stacked against us, we were always resilient enough to look at the script and remind ourselves that it was worth the struggle to forge ahead in the way we believed was right for the story. 

And now The Landing is securing festival slots and winning awards around the world. How are you responding to the acclaim and the film's momentum?

The success of The Landing on the festival circuit has opened some fantastic career doorways for Jade and I. We are currently developing the longform expansion of the short film and a supernatural-thriller feature. But while we have definitely enjoyed this exposure to industry avenues, it is finding a receptive audience to enjoy your work that is the real prize of filmmaking. We honesty will never get bored of experiencing the audiences reactions to the twists and turns of the story. When you write something with the hope that an audience will feel a certain emotion, to see it happen on the other end is what it’s all about for us - that sharing of ideas and emotion.

THE LANDING screens at the Revelation Perth International Film Festival as part of the Slipstream Quartet sidebar. Further information and tickets can be found here.