Film has an amazing capacity to open a door into another person’s experience.
This is the view of Rick Randall the founder and artistic director of the Other Film Festival that is held every two years. The festival presents films by, with or about people with a disability, or who are Deaf. Filmmakers have until 30 April to enter their work for this year’s festival. Films can be any form, length or genre. The important thing is that they show the lived experience of disability in an entertaining, engaging or compelling way.
Selecting only the best
As a filmmaker himself, Rick knows the power of film to build empathy and take the viewer on a journey. His vision for the Other Film Festival is to showcase films that both challenge and delight audiences.
The disability community is not going to be served by us screening films that are worthy but not entertaining, he says.
What we’re really interested in is culture change. We’re interested in transforming how everybody thinks about disability.
Films submitted to the Other Film Festival are judged by a selection panel that includes people with disability. It is a competitive process. Only 30 of the 200 or so entries received from around the world get chosen. These include films from award-winning filmmakers. But those with less acclaim can be selected too.
First-time film maker’s success
Rick says it is rare for films from first-time makers to be good enough to get into the festival. However, Gemma Falk achieved this with her film
3:15 to Brunswick. It premiered at the Other Film Festival in 2012 and has since been screened overseas.
This was my first film, so it was really exciting, she says.
I knew it was lovely and special and I felt proud of it. I did not expect to have it travel around the world though.
The film playfully depicts two strangers meeting at a bus stop. It features Debbie Lissek and Mark Polonsky from the performing arts group Fog Theatre. Through movement, gesture and expression, they tell a story with a romantic twist.
They did a lot of great improvisation on the shoot, Gemma says.
They are very intuitive performers.
Advice for beginners
Gemma believes you don’t need an amazing camera, lots of money or a huge crew to make a good short film.
You just need an idea that you care about and commitment, she insists.
Believe in your abilities to achieve great things within a project that you feel passionately about it.
Rick’s outlook is a little more measured. He strongly suggests beginners work with an experienced filmmaker or an organisation like Open Channel or Disability Media Australia.
I encourage people to make films, absolutely, he says.
But in terms of making a film that’s going to get into the festival, go and seek support.
Another way to contribute
People who are not filmmakers can still contribute to the Other Film Festival. In 2012, between 80 and 100 volunteers of all abilities helped make the event a great success. Rick speaks highly of their effort and commitment.
They become the face of the festival, he says.
We support them to have a good time.
The Other Film Festival runs from 3 to 7 December 2014 at Arts House, North Melbourne Town Hall.
3:15 to Brunswick and other films can be viewed on the Other Film Festival’s YouTube channel