“When you come you will see films with all sorts of budgets, there are some films with about a half-a-million-dollar budget and there are some that are very independent that are made with nothing; its ultimately about the story and we love supporting good stories.”
Sydney Indie Film Festival Director Shailla Quadra sat down to chat about this year’s Festival, now in its second year, the 90 diverse films on offer (about half of which are Australian productions) and what the event means for independent and emerging filmmakers.
“You get to experience a lot of different cultures, cities, you get to see parts of those places you’ve never been and it may even prompt you to go there,” said Quadra of the line-up which boasts films from over a dozen countries. “We want to support filmmakers and we want to entertain the community. We are passionate about bringing awareness to independent films, you don’t need to have a Hollywood actress to be good, it’s about the story.”
Opening this Monday at Sydney’s Bald Faced Stag with Punks for West Papua, the documentary chronicles a series of concerts to raise awareness of the challenges facing the region, with funds from ticket sales going directly to the people of West Papua.
Also screening on opening night is Sydney filmmaker Josh Belinfante’s new film Requires Review.
“It’s hilarious, it’s about this guy going around the world and putting signs on everything that requires review,” said Quadra, describing the opening night fixture as “thought-provoking.”
“It’s something you watch that stays in your head, I think people will go after watching and stick requires review signs everywhere.”
Recently awarded ‘Best Documentary Short Film’ at the Hong Kong Art House Film Festival and ‘Best Short Documentary’ at the Around Films International Film Festival in Berlin, Belinfante is thrilled to have the short screening on opening night.
“I hope audiences see the issues presented in the film for what they are,” said Belinfante. “At its heart the film is really about the fact that things may not be perfect and may not be broken but that doesn’t mean they can’t be better or at least improved. I hope audiences can have a laugh at what really is quite a flippant story about ‘the world’s best town planner.’”
“I recently held a private screening of the film for the town planners of the City of Sydney Council where it started an intense dialogue about Sydney’s issues! Memorably, one town planner remarked “Björn Lindqvist is the Bansky of town planning!” Which I found utterly hilarious.”
“The opening night gives a taste to the Festival,” said Quadra. “We’ve got drama, science fiction, comedy, a little bit of everything so people know what to expect for the rest of the Festival.”
Filmmakers with entries from around the world will be attending different screenings, including Sweden’s Karl Sterner who will introduce Not Knowing Who You Are is a Beautiful Source of Surprises and US filmmaker Michelle Clay whose new film Better Half, centred on long-term couple Tony and Leo, will also be on show.
“It’s about a couple who are trying to adopt a baby and all the challenges they go through, it’s an absolutely beautiful, beautiful story about the sacrifices they make,” said Quadra.
Closing night will feature Canadian filmmaker Maninder Chana’s heist-thriller Scratch, with a special appearance by Chana at the Sydney screening.
“Scratch is absolutely mind-blowing, its edge of your seat action,” commented Quadra. “It’s very Tarantino style, the sense of humour that he’s brought to all the action is just amazing.”
“They’ve been winning awards all over the world at different festivals. It’s a great honour that not only is it going to be showing here, he’s going to be coming all the way from Canada for the Festival as well.”
Taking place at venues around Sydney, the Festival plans to transform less-than-conventional screening sites into cinema venues, including a local car park, while hosting free, open-air events.
“Everybody gets to meet everybody and become friends,” said Quadra. “At events like this people become friends for life and begin to work on projects together, it connects people and people love the experience of not being in a conventional cinema.”
“People get to hear about your work, watch your work, know what you’re doing, it opens doors – it connects you to people who can help you on other projects… there will be filmmakers from everywhere coming, people from everywhere watching each other’s work and that can lead to so many things.”
The Sydney Indie Film Festival will take place from 10th-20th October 2016