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Setting Sun Film Festival

Melbourne’s west was waiting for its own film festival.  After living in the area for about 14 years, Anna Bourozikas decided one was needed and so she set out to make it happen. Last year saw the inaugural Setting Sun Short Film Festival which screened 45 films over four days, mostly at Yarraville’s much loved Sun Theatre. The second festival will take place in April 2015 and the call for entries closes at the end of January. “The Setting Sun’s a film maker’s festival, a strong, local, artistic festival,” says Bourozikas. “The inner West has changed so much over the last 15 years, there are more cafes and artists and galleries and there’s the Footscray Film School in the area, so the time is right.”

Bourozikas is keen to emphasise that the Setting Sun Film Festival is not just for ‘westie’ film makers, although the west is its focus. There is a special category for film makers from the area or who have shot their films in the west, and there’s another category for film makers from other areas who have made their films elsewhere.
 
Two things make the Setting Sun Film Festival unique – one being the fact that all entries get a screening. “Our aim is to promote and help film makers,” notes Bourozikas. “We know how much work goes into short films. If you enter the Sunnies you get a screening. Even if you don’t get into the official program at the Sun Theatre, you will get a screening, which is great for a film maker’s CV. Last year we screened pretty much all the films, the Best of the Rest in an outside session in a pop-up park. We’re doing it again this year but inside; Kindred Studio has donated their Bar of Bengal to host the Best of the Rest screening. The night will include bands as well as an MC.”  Not only that; all festival entrants gets one year’s membership with festival sponsor Open Channel.
 
Another great thing about entering the Setting Sun Film Festival is the fact that it costs only $40 to enter, bringing the possibility of taking home some surprising prizes. Winners in various categories will receive such valuable goodies such as a year’s subscription to Screen Hub and audio support from Backlot Studios as well as a piece of artwork from a well -known local paste-up artist, Baby Gorilla. The winners’ trophies were created by local artist Jos van Hulsen. “He’s an industrial sculptor who made our four trophies; they’re palm trees,” explains Bourozikas. “They reference the big beautiful old palm trees along the Maribyrnong, such a beautiful river.”
 
Bourozikas was impressed by the calibre of the films she received last year. “We get good films. We got good reviews. The festival attracted so much talent. Last year’s winning film – Tofu Man – was made on a mobile phone! The director won the audience choice, and has gone onto do really well in other festivals; Tofu Man made the St Kilda Film Festival’s top 100. And it’s gone overseas. A few of the student films did really well. Some were finalists in other festivals, such as Tropfest.”
 
Who judges the films? “I’m not involved in the judging,” says Bourozikos. “We have a panel. Some of the judges long-list and some short-list, they grade the films out of ten in terms of production values, story, and so on.”
 
One thing that surprised Bourozikas last year was the number of animated films that were entered. “The animation Second Chance has also done really well,” she continues. This year the animation section is an open one and Bourozikas expects to receive even more animations. “This area is full of film makers. Many are seasoned film makers rather than emerging.”
 
Bourozikas had definite ideas about the aesthetic to the festival promotional material; the black and white look references the sixties with a light-hearted northern soul sensibility. The posters and trailer were shot in Kindred Studio’s White Room. “I just love that space. The model is a go-go dancer, just right for the look we were trying to achieve. She completely looked like she stepped off the set of Barbarella!”
 
Besides the Sun Theatre and Kindred Studio, the Setting Sun Film Festival has received support from various local businesses, including the Seddon Community Bank. “They gave us $5,000 seeding, which covered initial start-up costs,” says Bourozikas. “The Sun Theatre came on board almost immediately. Open Channel are on board. And Backlot Studios. We have support from some local real estate agents.” 2015 sees Bourozikas moving into an office to work. “Last I worked from home – this year I share an office with The Big West Festival. It’s an all-women office. They’re lovely people. They give me advice when I need it.”
 
What is Bourozikas’s vision for the future of The Setting Sun Festival? “I’d like to build it up to be well-regarded festival. You can only just try – one step at a time. Our ultimate goal is to develop a good festival. It would be good to make a little bit of a living out of it one day.” What does Bourozikos like in a film? ”I love sci fi. I loved Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, such an original take on a love story. Great acting. A unique angle. Good drama. Good comedy. I like a good story. An unusual story; it’s all about story.”
 
BY LIZA DEZFOULI

The 2015 Setting Sun Short Film Festival is set to take place from Thursday April 16 to Sunday April 19, 2015. To enter, visit settingsunshortfilmfestival.com.au.