Short Cuts Film Festival brings succinct sparkle to Dandenong

Festival curator Richard Moore tells ArtsHub what makes a winning short film – and how it’s really not so far from Dandenong to Cannes.
Short Cuts Film Festival brings succinct sparkle to Dandenong

Stop-motion picture Lost & Found (2018, dir. Andrew Goldsmith & Bradley Slabe) is one of several animated films showing at Short Cuts Film Festival. Image supplied.

Richard Moore has some pithy advice for anyone making a short film.

‘Be economical with your time. Every second on screen is so precious, don’t waste it,’ Moore says.

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He would know. As the curator of Short Cuts Film Festival in the City of Greater Dandenong, Moore watches hundreds of short films to make his selection for the annual, one-night-only festival.

Moore – who was previously executive director of Melbourne International Film Festival – says he tries to devise a program that is entertaining, provocative and stimulating, with a range of genres and styles. Short Cuts also works with Melbourne International Animation Festival to present stunning animated content that ranges from the controversial to the heart-warming.

‘You’ve got to treat your audience as intelligent, curious, after a laugh, and in search of – bottom line – entertainment,’ Moore says. ‘We don’t pander to the lowest common denominator by any means, and we’re lucky that there’s so much good product in the short film world, whether it’s from our own culture or overseas.’

Written and directed by Turkish Australian filmmaker Lara Köse, Kaya (2018) stars Kayra Bektaş, Tuana Argun and Elif Alan.

Launched in 2016, Short Cuts is now in its fourth year, showcasing films from all over the world to its audience in southeastern Melbourne. Each film is under 15 minutes.

While Moore says that he prefers not to set a theme, often through lines emerge organically, and this year’s program features several films by female directors that focus on women and girls. Highlights include Lara Köse’s Kaya, which follows an orphan girl’s quest for faith in a remote Turkish village, and Monique Bettello’s Ladies’ Lounge, which is set in 1960s Brisbane.

Most of the films showing are also in contention for $5000 worth of prizes, including the $3000 Mayoral prize, with the exception of films supported by City of Greater Dandenong’s own film production program.

‘It shows that it’s not that far from Dandenong to Cannes, and you can do it.’ Richard Moore

One of these, All These Creatures, won the Short Film Palme d’Or at Cannes in 2018. A 14-minute film directed by Charles Williams, it was partly funded by and shot in the City of Greater Dandenong.

Yared Scott won the Best Young Actor award at St Kilda Film Festival for his role in All These Creatures.

‘It shows that it’s not that far from Dandenong to Cannes, and you can do it,’ Moore says. This year, the local council is also working with social enterprise Youthworx to develop the talents of emerging filmmakers in the area.

Yet while the City of Greater Dandenong is building its cinema community through supporting and showing short films, Moore says that it’s a shame that commercial cinemas across the country aren’t doing the same.

‘It’s appalling that all cinema owners don’t exhibit Australian film. It should be mandatory as part of the 20-minute package that precedes every feature film that they should have to include an Australian short film,’ Moore suggests. ‘I know it’s a commercial question … but I think they’ve got a moral responsibility to show the work of our young and emerging filmmakers and I think audiences would love it.’

Short Cuts Film Festival takes place at Dandenong’s Drum Theatre on Saturday 5 October 2019. Tickets are $10. shortcutsfilmfestival.com.au