Celebrating Young Filmmakers at the Adelaide International Youth Film Festival

Presented by Fresh International, the Adelaide International Youth Film Festival is a hugely significant event and a wonderful jumping off point for young creators.

This year’s festival included a sweet mix of features and shorts that addressed diverse topics from aging to children’s first confrontations with loss and death. Standouts included a black comedy of wordless absurd human errors in Hors Piste and a beautifully crafted, emotionally stirring animated short, Honey.

1. The Mannequin Man

A funny and witty little thriller, The Mannequin Man has a lot going for it. It’s set in an Italian seaside town that doesn’t feel like a touristic idyll, and the putrid anarchy into which it descends during a garbage strike only adds to its charm. It also features a straight-shooting older rich woman; a flamboyant homosexual; and some creepy back-stabbing executives.

Kyle Godfrey is a talented young filmmaker and his work here is enjoyable, but the film suffers from some problems. It’s not as sharply written or edited as it could be, and there are some illogical elements that pop up. For example, there’s a scene where the main hero hides in a corner of the room and two mannequins walk by. He looks at them and then ducks into the corner again. The audience is left to wonder why he doesn’t just run out of the room in terror.

The Adelaide International Youth Film Festival is dedicated to promoting the creative process of making, participating in and learning from film for South Australia’s young minds. The Festival delivers a specialist youth program and supports aspiring young filmmakers through industry networking opportunities and workshops. The Festival is also renowned for its support of new Australian cinema through the Investment Fund and the premieres of significant Australian works, with an emphasis on emerging talent. The Festival also features a selection of contemporary world cinema providing intimate portraits of daily life in cultures across the globe. It offers a range of captioned, subtitled and audio described screenings as well as Auslan interpreted talks and forums.

2. Hors Piste

A film with a bopping musical intro is a sure sign that it’s going to be fun, and this one is no exception. Hors Piste is a French cg short about two hapless mountain rescuers that won the BAFTA Student Film Award for Animation this year. It’s the work of Leo Brunel, Loris Cavalier, Camille Jalabert and Oscar Malet from the Ecole des Nouvelles Images in Avignon, France, and has that squishy claymation look that we associate with Wallace and Gromit.

It’s a comedy with plenty of heart and a refreshing sense of fun, and it also mixes in the kind of slapstick that reminds you that life isn’t always as serious as you think. The film is also beautifully crafted, with the swooping helicopter blades and blowing snow giving the visuals an enchanting feel.

The Adelaide International Youth Film Festival is a South Australian event that was established in 2003 and originally ran biennially in March until 2013. It has since been run annually, except for the years of Covid-19 restrictions, and it’s become renowned for its focus on young filmmakers. Aside from showcasing their works, it’s also a place for young filmmakers to develop and learn through workshops, competitions and networking events. It’s also where the prestigious Don Dunstan and Bettison and James awards are handed out.

3. The Truth About Love

In this romantic comedy, devoted mother Alice (Jennifer Love Hewitt) finds herself in a complicated relationship with two men. She tries to sort out her love life with the help of her best friend Natalya (Brinka Katic), but he has a secret that may jeopardise everything she holds dear. Directed by John Hay, the film stars Jimi Mistry and Dougray Scott.

EFFA is an Australian only film festival with a mission to get audiences talking about the need for environmental action. It is held annually by a group of volunteers who are passionate about getting the issues on everyone’s agenda and helping to make a difference in our world.

The 7th Adelaide Film Festival took place from 15 to 25 October 2015, celebrating the best in national and international cinema. Amanda Duthie returned as the festival director, and the Australian premiere of Paolo Sorrentino’s Youth was the closing night film. The event also featured an interactive public art installation in Cinema Place, featuring a Laneway Cinema showing moving image artworks, and a ‘Reactive Wall’ where six artists created 2D visual artworks live in response to the content within the festival program.

AFF has become renowned for its bold program that explores emerging trends in film and screen culture. It is one of Australia’s most distinctive festivals, with a strong commitment to fostering and nurturing new filmmakers. Its award-winning AFF Youth delivers a specialist youth program and helps aspiring South Australian filmmakers to launch their careers through industry networking opportunities and workshops. AFF also provides equity investment in Australian film production through the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund.

4. Honey

Honey is a sweet and sunny film about a young girl who dazzles hip-hop superstars with her dance moves, but her real passion is helping kids at the community centre. Jessica Alba has a lovely smile and Joy Bryant is sassy in her best friend role, but it’s the performance of Colm Farrell as Honey’s dad that really makes this movie. His subtle changes in facial expression can easily move the tone from humour to sadness.

The movie reflects the revolutionary British New Wave films of the early 1960s, which were known for their unapologetic identification with working class youth and their sensitive, modern approach to matters of sexuality and race. Director Tony Richardson’s adaptation is a startling work of social realism, bringing an unflinching view of the harsh reality of childhood trauma and its effect on adulthood.

The diversity of the films from around the world that are shown at AFF Youth is to be applauded. It exposes young children to foreign cinema for what may be the first time in their lives, helping to break down the cultural assumption that foreign movies are boring or pretentious at a very early age. A great selection of subtitled, audio described and Auslan interpreted screenings is also provided. It’s a festival that has an important industry role to play by encouraging young people to support local and international productions and providing a gateway for them to enter the world of screen storytelling.