The Bayside Film Festival is gearing up to roll out another eclectic selection of films, and aims to transform its audiences...
Since its inception in 2004, the Bayside Film Festival has annually celebrated the diversity and talent of emerging filmmakers. Each year has a new theme which underpins the program, dictating the content and style of films on show. In talking to Artistic Director Amadeo Marquez-Perez (pictured), FilmInk learns that this year's theme is that of ‘transition'.
"The theme came quite naturally," Marquez-Perez reflects. "As films were being sent to me for consideration, I found they contained ideas that paralleled the experiences of audiences in cinemas who felt they were transformed or were changed by the act of watching films. I like exploring the reasons why people react or feel a certain way about a film."
This theme is no more evident than in discussion of the festival's opening and closing night films, Autumn Gold and Jig. The former documents the story of a group of senior citizens keen to break the mould of their societal stereotype and become active members of their community, while the latter offers an insight into the passionate and competitive world of Irish dancing and its incredibly dedicated participants.
Marquez-Perez's personal enthusiasm for each project is obvious. "Autumn Gold is one of those amazing films that I had to re-watch once I reached the end credits," he says. "The truth and sincerity of the film's personalities, and the way in which they tell their stories, took my breath away." Likewise with Jig, which he says "creates an obvious transition in expectations. If you were to place these characters in a different situation, I wonder if their self-obsession would be evident. I loved the vulnerability of the characters and how "making it" requires leaving some people behind."
Certainly, as far as pure subject matter goes, you would struggle to find two films that are more different. But, appropriately, Marquez-Perez prefers to look beneath the surface in affirming their similarities. "[They share] the journey I wanted to take the audience on. I wanted to demonstrate the bookends of life, birth and death, and everything in between. We are constantly in transition, settings goals and expectations. The community that comes to the cinema represents such a cross-section of society. It's important for festivals to lift the bar of entertainment to engage patrons, regardless of age, gender, race and social class."
He continues, addressing the viewer's role in the screening process. "I want audiences to keep in mind that the goal of the Bayside Film Festival is to present a collection of films that will explore stories that are both close and far away from our own experiences."
In addition to Autumn Gold, opening night will also feature highlights from the Jump Cut Short Film program, which Marquez-Perez calls a "fantastic collection of films from around the world." The Youth Documentary Project again returns as the Jump Cut's sister program, with this year's entrants boasting direct relevance to many social issues facing Australia's youth, including bullying, social networking and refugees.
"Many different films can explore a single issue in multiple ways," he muses. "Young filmmakers involved in this project have shown such maturity and clarity in getting across a message that audiences will feel informed and part of the conversation about how these issues can be addressed."
Complimenting the array of films on show will be guest speaker and independent Australian filmmaker Maria Tran, of whom Marquez-Perez cannot speak highly enough, and for good reason. "Maria is an amazing filmmaker. She has a thousand and one amazing ideas and an ability to cut through the nonsense and get down to business." Her presentation, entitled Will My Idea Make A Good Film? is sure to appeal to more than a few aspiring young directors out there. "She wants to get into the nitty gritty of what makes an amazing film and guide the filmmakers into a self-reflective space to interrogate their own and others' stories," he confirms.
Just like any film festival - but especially the Bayside Film Festival - the hope is that audiences will stumble upon a gem they're unlikely to see otherwise. With that in mind, what's one film likely to fly under the radar of most attendees? "How Far Have We Come? deals with equal marriage rights," Marquez-Perez nominates. "The maturity and sincerity of this film will make people think about how an art form like filmmaking can present such an issue to the community and get them to think outside the box."
The Bayside Film Festival runs from July 25-28 at the Palace Cinema, Brighton. For more information about the festival, head here.