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Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The 12th annual Bondi Short Film Festival screens this Saturday at Bondi Pavilion. The programme, three sessions of shorts in one day judged by a panel of industry and celebrity judges, is a mixed bag of dramas, documentary and comedies by Australian filmmakers.

Its founder, Francis Coady is something of a powerhouse, a passionate spokesperson for the arts, an advocate for the creative community of Bondi and in a philanthropic vein, a huge supporter of short films and providing a channel for them to be seen.

The Festival itself came from humble and somewhat unsuspecting beginnings. Whilst surfing off the reef at Tamarama one day, a mate of Coady’s asked if he’d help put on a film screening party. Frustrated at being unable to screen his films at other festivals because they’d already been screened, the mate was running out of options. Coady who had success with managing Thirsty Merc and putting on festivals, agreed. “I basically started the festival to help out directors who could only get single screenings of their film”.

The inaugural screening took place in 2000 at North Bondi RSL with nine films in total, all by Bondi locals and all of them Coady’s mates. In it’s second year, there were twelve films, again all by Bondi locals. After that, word got out and the festival grew to what it is today.

“We started selling a unique proposition – we didn’t care where the films had screened, we just picked the best possible films in the Australian market”, explains Coady.

These days only about ten percent of the two hundred and fifty films sent in every year have been screened before.

As Coady puts it, “It’s amazing that artists continually write new material. They say there are only seven stories in life but there are seven million different ways to tell those stories; they continue to evolve”.

For Coady, the Bondi Short Film Festival is a labour of love that allows his philanthropic side to come out by providing an outlet for directors to screen films that won’t necessarily be seen by mainstream audiences. “I ask the question why has this person gone to all this effort to make this film? It’s a huge effort and if they’ve gone to all that effort then someone has to see it”.

The festival also affords him an artistic outlet. “I spend so much time managing the arts this is an opportunity for me to present or curate a collection of artistic works”. For Coady, that translates into a month spent locked away viewing, culling and curating to get to the final fourteen that we’ll see on Saturday.

There’s a really strong narrative that runs through the films and each in their own way have a conscience or are stating something of importance in a subtle way.

“The final films are put together to cry, to laugh your head off, to be confused, to work out the answer and to never be indifferent”.

This year’s eclectic mix certainly does that. There is tension, pathos, intrigue, pain and heart. Alongside a true love story about multiple sclerosis is a taboo drama about a young Asian girl pushing against her mother’s pressure to be the perfect violinist. From Bondi local, Samuel Bartlett is a complex sliding doors scenario about a metaphysics student who gets to live the same day twice. There’s a beautiful, introspective drama about a teenage gymnast who watches a questionable relationship unfold between her teammate and her coach. And then there’s the documentary about Kerry, a collector of all things gnome.

One thing’s for certain, this year’s judges – actors Noni Hazlehurst, Jessica Tovey and Andrew McFarlane; one half of Bondi Hipsters duo, Christiaan Van Vuuren; ABC’s Kristy Best; and CEO of Screen Australia, Dr Ruth Harley will have their work cut out.

The 12th annual Bondi Short Film Festival screens this Saturday, 24 November 2012 at 3pm, 7.30pm and 8.15pm at Bondi Pavilion, Bondi Beach. Tickets are available at Moshtix or 1300 438 849.

Life in the Bubble is giving one lucky reader the chance to win a double pass to the matinee session of the festival this Saturday. To go into the draw, leave a comment below or share this article on Facebook.

Winners announced this Friday at midday via our Facebook page.

* Starting next month, Francis Coady will step into the role of monthly film reviewer for Life in the bubble.


Words: Belinda Luksic

Photographs: courtesy of the  Bondi Short Film Festival


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