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Adelaide pushes the festival frontier

Dan Edwards

Practical workshops, a commitment to new media and the founding of a production fund mark the biennial Adelaide Film Festival as a bold experiment in Australian film festival programming. The 2005 event contains a number of new initiatives and will incorporate the Australian International Documentary Conference 2005 (AIDC) at a moment when documentary is in the ascendancy.

The key feature differentiating the AFF from other festivals is a film investment fund underwritten by the Rann state government. Nine projects backed by the festival were announced earlier this year, and several of these will premiere in 2005, including Sarah Watt’s debut feature Look Both Ways and a bio-pic on Spike Milligan entitled I Told You I Was Ill.

Festival Director Katrina Sedgewick is also expanding the ambit of film with the launch of the multi-platform digital media project UsMob (RT63, p17), also partly funded by the AFF. Continuing the focus on digital forms, ANAT’s miniSeries program will showcase an international selection of narrative and experimental live-action and animated films for mobile phones. Creative phone content is an area of explosive growth internationally, and ANAT and the AFF are taking the lead in introducing this work to local audiences. UK production company The-Phone-Book-Ltd will be on hand running a variety of workshops. As most current phones are unable to handle the kind of audio-visual content appearing in miniSeries, the work will be exhibited via phone booths set up in the Greater Union Hindley Street complex. The-Phone-Book-Ltd will also be running a kiosk where festival attendees can create their own mini-movies.

As well as the phone workshops, UK animation group Shynola, whose clips for bands such as Blur and Radiohead have won numerous awards, will be conducting a 3-day intensive workshop on developing and pitching ideas for music videos. Fifteen Australian animators will be invited by the festival to participate; registration for selection is via the festival website ( . Canadian “video and cinema kamikazes” KINO will also be on hand to facilitate the writing, shooting, editing and screening of a short film every 2 days throughout the festival, giving festival attendees the chance to see KINO’s motto in action: “Do well with nothing, do better with little, and do it right now.”

Alongside these production-orientated events will be programs of local and international films, including the world premiere of Day and Night (Wang Chao, China), Checkpoint (Yoav Shamir, Israel), Moolaadé (Sembene Ousmane, Senegal) and Machuca (Andres Wood, Chile).

Film music afficionados will be delighted to hear that the overseas guests include Lalo Schifrin. This legendary screen composer has scored almost 100 films, including several key works of the ‘new Hollywood’ period like Bullitt (1968) and Cool Hand Luke (1967). Bullitt will be screening at the festival along with the Schifrin-scored Enter the Dragon (1973) and Carlos Saura’s Tango, no me dejes nunca (1998).

Cementing the relationship with the local industry, the Australian International Documentary Conference will take place across 4 days of the festival. As well as a documentary screening program, AIDC will offer documentary makers multiple opportunities to get new projects off the ground. The Australian DOCUmart offers a one day session in which filmmakers can pitch to a panel of international broadcaster representatives and investors. Entry for the pitching session is competitive and all submissions must be received by December 17. See the AIDC website for details (

STEPS International, a working group of commissioning editors and producers, will be inviting submissions for documentaries on the theme of democracy ([email protected]). The initiative will comprise 10 one hour films, 2 features produced for theatrical exhibition and a major online component.

Adelaide is the first Australian festival to actively pursue a production as well as screening agenda, and the event’s integration with local and regional industries brings it in line with the model adopted by several major Asian festivals such as Hong Kong and Pusan (see Walsh). Given that Adelaide was the centre of the Australian film renaissance in the early 1970s, it seems only fitting that the city is now pioneering new directions in local film festival culture.

Adelaide Film Festival, Greater Union Hindley St complex and Mercury Cinema, Adelaide, Feb 18-March 3 2005

Australian International Documentary Conference, Adelaide Hilton International, Adelaide, Feb 21-24 2005

RealTime issue #64 Dec-Jan 2004 pg. 24

© Dan Edwards; for permission to reproduce apply to [email protected]

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