MIFF Shorts Awards

August 3, 2010

Having not really had time to check out all of this year’s Shorts strand at MIFF, I thought heading along to the Shorts Awards would at least afford me with a working knowledge of and opportunity to see the festival’s most outstanding highlights. After a fair bit of talking and some occasionally amusing anecdotes, the actual award ceremony got under way and the winners in each category were announced. They are as follows:

  • Jury Special Mention: Out of Love (2009)
  • Melbourne International Film Festival for Best Experimental Short Film: Long Live the New Flesh (2009)
  • Melbourne International Film Festival for Best Animation Short Film: Angry Man (2009)
  • Melbourne International Film Festival for Best Documentary Short Film: The Mystery of Flying Kicks (2009)
  • Cinema Nova for Best Fiction Short Film: Autumn Man (2009)
  • Melbourne Airport Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker: The Kiss (2010)
  • Film Victoria Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film: Franswa Sharl (2009)
  • City Of Melbourne Grand Prix for Best Short Film: The Lost Thing (2010)

Somewhat disappointingly they didn’t quite have enough time to show all the shorts (although I dare say that if they’d cut some of the comedy intro – no offense to Colin Lane intended – along with the absolutely pointless “montage” of shorts’ opening credits that some poor bastard spend time needlessly editing together, then they could have fit them all in), but the majority of those shown were of a very high standard.

First up was The Kiss, a well observed Australian “coming of age” dramatic short that was well shot and suitably atmospheric.

Next was the fascinating documentary surrounding the act of “shoe tossing” which illuminates a number of global theories on the “origin” and “meaning” behind the phenomenon. Amongst the reasons cited are; marking the loss of one’s virginity; signaling a crack house; indicating gang territory; a sign of bullying and performance art. Using mixed media and with a strong but not omniscient voice, The Mystery of Flying Kicks is a tidy little film with peculiar yet intriguing subject matter.

The less said about Franswa Sharl the better – let’s just leave it at this: sometimes it seems Australian filmmakers don’t know where the line is – no matter what the motivation, an intentionally comedic character who “blacks up” is wildly inappropriate and always offensive.

Finally, The Lost Thing: a sweet, endearing, well animated tale about individuality and imagination. A kind, subtle metaphor for the anomalous nature of pure imagination within an industrial cityscape: “A place you wouldn’t know exists.”

Thomas Caldwell said it best in his brief intro when he urged the filmmakers present, “Please continue to make films that are true to your own visions because they’re going to be the good ones.” Just so long as they can leave the racial offenses aside, I wholeheartedly agree.


4 Responses to “MIFF Shorts Awards”

  1. Thanks for the quote and link!

    Regarding Franswa Sharl, I took the black-face character to be the filmmakers attempt to represent the ugly side of Australians when they travel abroad. I don’t think the film wants us to find that guy funny – it wants us to recognise how revolting a certain section of Australian society can be, especially when on holiday in places like Fiji, which they treat it as their personal playground. When that guy appears it’s an intentionally uncomfortable moment that threatens to ruin the climax of the film. So I do think we are meant to find that guy offensive within the context of the film rather than the film itself being offensive.


  2. Tara Judah said

    Thanks very much for your comment Thomas.

    I can appreciate that the filmmakers’ intentions are most likely as you describe in their depiction of the stereotype, but I do still find the context inappropriate for an actor to “black-up”.

    It is of course only my own opinion, but I found the representation problematic. The act is a minor (almost throwaway) occurrence in the film which I think necessarily diminishes the gravity of the act. Also, as it is not set within a politicised context, and as the film as a whole is a comedy, many viewers will likely come away from it with an overarching tonal affect – feeling up-beat or entertained.

    That said, I certainly do hope that others who enjoyed the film share your sentiments regarding the context of the act.

  3. I hear what you are saying but I actually feel that the film was heavily politicised in the way it portrayed how our bodies can be represented for social commentary. After all, the main character does what he does very publicly with his body in order to make a statement about gender roles, his own father’s expectations and even possibly his sexuality. It is a considered and planned act that provokes the feelings of good will from the audience and the crowd in the film. This is in stark contrast to the crude, stupid and offensive “black-face” man who shows no understanding of what he is doing, comes across as a dickhead and is completely unfunny. We can at least all agree that we don’t like his intrusion into the film and wish he wasn’t there. But, I really think that is the point.

  4. Tara Judah said

    Thanks Thomas, you make a salient point about the body being politicised and I agree with you there.

    I think the issue for me personally is that I take issue with a depiction that fails to engage the historical context.

    In Spike Lee’s Bamboozled (2000) his actors “black up” in direct conversation with the history of the act and it is one example of a film where I see the action as justified.

    My own thoughts notwithstanding, I think you make a very good case in defense of Franswa Sharl.

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