The scripted films include Out of Range, starring Aaron Pedersen as Max, an estranged father trying to reconnect with his son Levi (Araluen Lee Baxter) on a failed road trip; Tribunal, the story of a gay man seeking aslyum in Australia, and black comedy Molly and Cara, about the friendship that develops between Indigenous student Cara, who needs somewhere to live, and bigoted, grouchy pensioner Molly, who needs a housemate before her opportunistic daughter forces her into aged care.
But it’s some of the short-form docos that are the most compelling, offering insights into the smaller stories that constitute the stuff of real life. The story of a struggling amateur cricket team in Hobart’s northern suburbs is never going to make a mainstream news story, but Sidelines is arguably one of the most moving films in the doco stream.
Best mates Shaun and Zac are desperate to establish their own team, despite their own personal struggles; Zac suffers from mental health problems, and Shaun has taken him in to the one-bedroom unit he shares with his partner and baby. Playing cricket gives them a much-needed focal point, but their teammates aren’t always so dedicated.
The pair decided to seek out new teammates from Hobart’s new migrant community and this turns their luck around and subsequently creates a new community for everyone involved. Another highlight is Limited Surrender, the story of artist Kirsty Martinsen’s struggle with MS and its effects on her creative output; after losing hope she’d ever be an artist again once the disease left her using a wheelchair, she’s re-created herself and her art practice, embracing her disability as a tool rather than an impediment. Deafination stars aspiring cinematographer Paul Vagnarellil (the film’s director of photography) a deaf man with no interest in “being fixed”. Through a series of funny first-hand vignettes, he walks us through his everyday experiences, offering an illuminating insight into life for a person with impaired hearing.
Others focus on the commonalities of indigenous mythologies from around the world, life as second generation migrants and the creation of a soap opera made by and for people with disabilities.
With genuinely diverse and engaging content, this is a cracking line-up of thought-provoking shorts.
SBS Short Film Festival, SBS On Demand, from September 13-15.