While the sleepy town of Briagolong is only one hour and ten minutes away, it feels much further once you arrive, especially on a cold winter’s night. For the third time my girlfriend and I stepped inside it’s rustic Mechanics Institute Hall for a night of short films as part of the St Kilda Film Festival’s Victoria tour. Divided into two programs, Awards Winners and Directors Choice, the selection could not have been more diverse, spanning genres and various social themes.
Kicking off the night was the Best Achievement in Indigenous Filmmaking, ‘Brown Paper Bag’, a touching piece in which a young indigenous boy discovers the world of reading thanks to guest storyteller and his and principal. At its heart, this picture conveys how a spark of inspiration and kindness can help one overcome adversity. Best Short Film winner ‘Welcome Home Allen’, follows four soldiers who return home following a fierce battle, and thus explores the drastic change an individual can experience after prolonged exposure to the ravages of war. Striking use of archaic elements merging with a modern day setting is what gives the 11 minute short an almost genius quality, serving viewers a stark metaphor. Dark humour was injected into the mix with Best Comedy ‘Homebodies’, centred around a married couple who have both lost something significant to their marriage. Despite being somewhat depressing in nature, enjoyment comes from the series of mishaps that plague our two protagonists.
Three bickering siblings opened the Directors Choice program with ‘The Mother Situation’ where selfishness takes precedence over the assisted suicide of their dying mother. Witty and morbid, this feature takes the fight for inheritance to a new level. For a slice of working class life, the documentary ‘Heavy Haulage Girls’ takes a look at the women in the male-dominated industry of driving trucks in the harsh Australian outback. While definitely an important feature in the way of equality that shows the capability and work ethic of these tough women, I found its 17-minute run-time a hindrance in its overall storytelling. Closing out the night was the winner of Best Achievement in Editing ‘The Eleven O’Clock’, a very sharp situational comedy involving a delusional patient of a psychiatric who believes he’s the psychiatrist, asking the audience who’s who? Featuring the always impressive Damon Herriman, it’s a fun little guessing game that’s especially well acted.
Remaining tour dates and venues include the Portland Arts Centre on Saturday, August 19th and the Drum Theatre in Dandenong on Friday, August 25th.