The first week of the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) saw the rollout of the 37 Degrees South Market, where producers were able to pitch market ready projects to international financiers. During its second week, the festival hosted its Accelerator program, MIFF’s talent development strand for up-and-coming directors. FilmInk joined the program on Thursday night for a celebratory drink at their Talent of Tomorrow Function.
Although joined by distinguished guests such as Mark Woods, director of the 37 Degrees South Market and the Accelerator program, and Sally Caplan, Head of Production at Screen Australia, the event was an informal affair. Encouraged by the open bar, young filmmakers were able to casually meet with program coordinators and blow off some steam before the upcoming awards night.
Helping promising short filmmakers make the often tricky transition to feature-length filmmaking, Accelerator has been running for 12 years and the program boasts an impressive alumni list including David Michod (Animal Kingdom, The Rover), Matthew Bait (Shut Up Little Man! ), Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours) and Justin Kurzel (Snowtown and Macbeth). Also, having gone through the program are Grant Scicluna (Downriver, pictured), Ben Chessell (Sucker), Olivia Peniston-Bird (Graceful Girls) and Erin White (Stories I Want to Tell You in Person), whose films are all playing at this year’s MIFF.
There were 23 participants all together in the 2015 Accelerator event, 18 of which were selected through the Accelerator Classic, such as Dylan River, Nora Nia Sari and Ruby Railey, while five others were selected through either of the Hot Shots or Screenwest West Coast Visions programs.
This year, Accelerator celebrated its new partnership with the Weinstein Company. The American film giant has been conducting the Lexus Short Film competition since 2013 and for the first time, this year’s contest will be open for international submissions. Accelerator has been selected as the point of entry for Australia and New Zealand, giving four filmmakers the opportunity to work with the Weinstein Company and construct a short film around their theme of ‘anticipation’.
Alongside the short film section of the program, Accelerator included four days of workshopping, screenings, seminars, networking events and a number of talks including a series of lectures with, London Film Festival Director, Adrian Wootton, and Los Angeles-based writer/director/developer, Wendall Thomas.
MIFF’s Accelerator program concluded with the MIFF Short Awards, held on Sunday. As MIFF is an Academy accredited festival, the winners of the Grand Prix, Best Fiction, Best Animation and Best Experimental awards, are eligible to enter the Oscars competition.