Bayside Film Festival
According to Bayside Film Festival artistic director Amadeo Marquez Perez, film has the unique ability to engage all parts of a community, capture our imaginations and change our perceptions. More than simply a festival showcasing films and their creators, Bayside Film Festival focuses on working with young, independent and emerging film makers from both here in Australia and overseas and showcases a diverse range of film ranging from drama to comedy to documentary and animation. Now in its ninth year and with a three-day program that is packed full with the best up and coming films, the theme of this year’s festival is transition.
“The reason why we chose transition is how people walk in and out of the cinema; so how we engage with cinema per say, explains Marquez Perez. “So a lot of people actually walk in and they sort of see it as a moment of ninety minutes where they walk into a film then walk out again. (It’s about) how they’ve actually evaluated that ninety minutes. So people are becoming a lot savvier about how they evaluate film, how they evaluate the process of actually watching a film and how people are changed by a certain event. I find that really fascinating.”
This year’s program, which includes a number of short films and documentaries as well as full-length feature films made both locally and abroad, will again be shown at the Palace Cinema in Brighton. The program continues its strong support and focus on young filmmakers; giving them a chance to experience the art of filmmaking as well as being a vehicle for them to show their films to a live audience. “It’s really (about) showing and demonstrating the diversity of the program,” says Marquez Perez. “So we’ve got films like the Jump Cuts which shows films from around the world. We have the Youth Documentary program and we then have a collection of three feature films coming in from all different parts of the world.”
A unique feature of Bayside Film Festival is the aforementioned Youth Documentary Project. The project is designed to engage young people and assist them in the creation of a series of short documentaries that are told from their own view points. The program not only features a number of films from students from local secondary schools but also works in partnership with students from a school in Kabul in Afghanistan showcasing the true diversity of the program. “It really is about engaging young people in the film process,” explains Marquez Perez. “Some of them have actually done films before, some of them haven’t and it’s almost like an A to Z version of filmmaking. So it takes you right through from content development right through to story development, storyboards, cameras, lighting and then actually developing that, shooting skills and there’s editing as well. So it’s really a great crash course where it’s been facilitated and you’re actually part of the process as well.”
Now in his fourth year as director, Marquez Perez has over 15 years worth of experience and has been artistic director of a number of film festivals throughout his career. For Bayside Film Festival, his main focus was to create a program that would entertain, enlighten and engage the audience; whether it is the insightful student documentaries of the Youth Documentary Project, the vast collection of local and international short films from young filmmakers in Jump Cut or the full feature films. The program was also designed to assist young, aspiring filmmakers and features a number of guest speakers which are presented by local, up and coming filmmakers working in and around the industry. “I like the idea of people coming to films and they have an idea of what they’re going to see but they’re not certain what they’re going to see,” says Marquez Perez. “And every experience surprises them and you’re not sure when the next change is going to come and it just feels more like you’re having a conversation with the screen and the different stories that are unravelling.”
For Marquez Perez, Bayside Film Festival is all about engaging the wider community; whether they are film buffs or just the occasional viewer and presenting them with a program that showcases the best local, independent films and filmmakers. It’s also about assisting young people and reaching out to the community and teaching them about not only the art of filmmaking but also about the power of film and its ability to transcend boundaries and engage our imaginations. “I do have a soft spot for the Youth documentary project,” admits Marquez Perez when reflecting on the program. “There’s something quite amazing about when you come into the program with absolutely no idea what’s going to be showing and then you’re watching it and you go ‘Wow’. Every year they always surprise me, the filmmakers step up to the mark and they come with really amazing stories.”
BY JAMES NICOLI
Bayside Film Festival runs from July Wednesday July 25 until Saturday July 28 and takes place at Palace Cinema Brighton.