Under the Resfest Bonnet

“Just got in from Tokyo and still suffering jet lag”. Like all good film festival directors though, Jonathan Wells still managed time to zap across an update about Resfest, the upcoming short film fest @ ACMI in Melbourne, Dec 4 – 8. More details (and well worth your bookmarking) at www.resfest.com, where you’ll catch a quite cool and expansive range of short films, articles and DVDs.

How many short films do you watch a year?
2000… I have a pretty good idea if a film will work for RESFEST in the first couple minutes. It has probably made we weary of sitting through festival screenings of 2 hour shorts programs if the overall work is not strong, usually you discover one or two great films but it can be hard to get to them.

The last time a short film made you drop your jaw?
It happens every year… This year it was Perfect Human: Cartoon, last year it was Terminal Bar.

Which of this years crop especially strike a personal chord with you?
Too many to mention in the music video category… The Michel Gondry program as a whole is mindblowing (though I love La Tour de Pise because it was an early French piece that hadn’t been seen elsewhere). Some favorite shorts: David Ellis’ Letter to the President, Virgil Widrich’s FAST FILM, The Winner of RESFEST 2003 by Johan Kramer (OK I was a sucker for this one), The Japanese Tradition: Relationships by Junji Kojima and Kentaroh Kobayashi, Treevil / dir: Christer Lindstrom, Aino Ovaskainen, Aiju Salminen, The Other Final / dir: Johan Kramer.

Any favourite DIY submissions?
In 1996, Eric Henry worked at Kinko’s (a photocopy shop) to earn money to buy his first Mac – a Powermac 6100, barely capable of video. Yet he turned out an amazing film ‘Wood Technology’ that we premiered at RESFEST 1997 and it went on to win multiple awards at various festivals.

What have been disappointing patterns amongst your submissions?
Imitation – one year it was Blair Witch another it was Tarantino. Actually we’ve had no such obvious trends in the last 2 years.

Australian works you’ve included during any of the Resfestz?
From the top of my head: Gregory More & Mathan Ratinam’s ‘THUMPA’ in the By Design program this year. Peter McDonald’s ‘Harvey’ in 2001, ‘Are you normal enough?’ by Richard Grant in 2000.

The limitations of music video as a form, and who is stretching them?
Someone is paying for the bill, some of these people don’t think a music video should be a piece of art rather just a commercial to sell their artist. Michel Gondry, Chris Cunningham, Spike Jonze, Jonathan Glazer, Mike Mills… The usual suspects.

I thought the Daft Punk feature film : INTERSTELLA 5555 was really lame – why’d you choose it?
Electronic music video has always been a popular and key component of RESFEST. We’ve also show anime works at the festival over the years. However successful or unsuccessful it was we want to encourage experimentation in filmmaking. This film had its detractors but also hit a chord with a good deal of our audience.

Your thoughts on the regional encoding scheme for DVDs? ( I noticed Resfest dvds are all region )
I think it is rubbish. Which is why I bought a multi-region DVD player that can play PAL or NTSC DVDs. I can view a website anywhere in the world, listen to a CD purchased anywhere in the world, read a book purchased anywhere in the world… Studios need to catch up with reality and do simultaneous release.

What do you think of ‘Micropayment’s, an often suggested way of satisfying artists and online audiences?
I like it and obviously many are imitating Apple’s ITunes store. We need to continue to think of new solutions that reward artists for their work.

What are the challenges of DVD distribution & how are your titles going?
It is a challenge to market short film compilations. The DVDs are most often purchased at the festival itself. They also have been very popular in Asia, where I think shops and buyers can be more open minded about innovative products.

Why the lack of short films to watch on the Resfest site?
We over short QuickTime samples of films from previous years fests, and will add them soon for 2003 programs. Mostly we want people to view the films on the large screen at the fest or on our DVD compilations where the quality can be top notch.

What’s the Resfest criteria & selection process ? ( & When is your deadline for 2004?)
Early deadline is April 30th. Criteria – produced in the last 12 months and ideally something very creative, innovative with a great story. Selections are made by the editorial staff of RES Magazine.

What sort of Resfest events can Melbournians look forward to outside of screenings?
There’s a filmmaker brunch planned, but I’m hoping to have some locals show me the town (last night we had an amazing closing party for RESFEST Tokyo in a shoebox sized bar with 100 chandeliers and 4 mooseheads). We hope to return next year with a multi-media extravaganza in Federation Square itself.

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