Salty Popcorn Sydney Film Festival Short Film Awards

This was never going to be easy – 39 short films in the Sydney Film Festival and I had access to 20 of them so it has taken me a couple of weeks but they have all been reviewed and they have all been judged, purely by me and my love of film. It is astounding the amount of talent from the world out there and the majority of the talent is local. Some of these short films just blew me away and I want to own half of them on DVD for future viewing.

Apologies but the following were not viewed for technical reasons. Captive Radio and Fighting Spirit would not work for viewing as one turned green and the other I could watch but had no subs and it was pointless, I could not understand the story.

The following I did not have access to review but I am sure you are as talented as the rest of the film makers and one day I hope to see your future and feature work:

Aboriginal Heart, All God’s Creatures, The Chuck In, Cine Gazette No. 12: The Elephant Will Never Forget, Coughs and Sneezes, Crooked Lines, The Dark Stairway, Irish Folk Furniture, Nice Time, Out of Frame, Paper Run, Pedestrian Crossing, The People at No. 19, Perception, Recollections, Sunday by the Sea, Tomorrow’s Saturday, A Warning to Travellers, Watch Your Meters, Whale Valley, What a Life.






THE LAST TIME I SAW RICHARD - The Best Short Film at the SFF as per Salty Popcorn Award
THE LAST TIME I SAW RICHARD – The Best Short Film at the SFF as per Salty Popcorn Award


Two boys form a bond to protect themselves from the darklings that hide in the night shadows.

Director Nicholas Verso won the AWGIE for Best Short Film and Grand Prize for Fantasy at the Rhode Island International Film Festival for Hugo, and was a Tropfest finalist with Flight.

This 22min short directed and written by Nicholas Verso is a superb supernatural film of epic proportions. It has echoes of The Ring and honestly has an equivalent in production values. To win a film award everything must align and be perfect in every way and this film did. It suits my tastes in the unusual and darkness and the cinematography of Stefan Duscio is literally stunning. The special effects are stellar and the acting by Toby Wallace is enough for this film to win on its own. I have one negative to say, but in no way did it effect my love for this film – cutters do not wear singlets EVER.

A film that is brilliant on every level and I wish there was some way you could all see it. But thank the demons I have found you a trailer. Enjoy and join their FB page and ask them how you can see the film – it deserves to be seen!! FACEBOOK



5 Pops




THE AMBER AMULET - 2ND PRIZE from the Salty Popcorn SFF Short Film Awards
THE AMBER AMULET – 2ND PRIZE from the Salty Popcorn SFF Short Film Awards


The winner of the Crystal Bear for Best Short at this year’s Berlinale stars Ed Oxenbould (from director Moore’s 2012 Dendy Awards finalist Julian) as a 10-year-old superhero with a love of gems and minerals.

This one was nearly the winner. It was one of the very first I saw while The Last Time I Saw Richard was the last. I fell in love with this film the second it started, it is just about a kid’s dream world and fantasy games that are more logical and realistic than most people’s lives. He is unblinded by society and sees things as they are, while still being slightly deluded about reality. Ed Oxenbould is amazing and will be seen in lots of Australian films I would say. The 23min film directed by Matthew Moore is a brilliant film that embraces the short film format – I can easily see this being the audience favourite for short films. A true hero of magical proportions.



5 Pops




RECORD - 3RD PRIZE from the Salty Popcorn SFF Short Film Awards
RECORD – 3RD PRIZE from the Salty Popcorn SFF Short Film Awards


A father in mourning struggles to connect with his blind daughter.

This marks the directorial debut for David Lyons, an Australian actor best known for his role in the Emmy Award-winning drama ER, who is currently starring in NBC’s Revolution, and has a role in Lasse Hallström’s latest feature, Safe Haven.

This stunning and powerful 15min film is directed by none other than the evil General Monroe from the TV show – REVOLUTION. He is a NIDA grad who is killing it overseas. This film brings him back home for a sad film that is incredibly powerful. The young protagonist of the film is a blind girl struggling with the loss of her mum. She has 1000s of tapes recorded of her mum in general talking and interacting with the family prior to dying of cancer.

I found it too dark and really difficult to connect with until I grasped where it was going, and then I fell in love with this beautiful tale with its magical ending.


5 Pops




BUTTERFLIES - stunning stop motion short film from the SFF
BUTTERFLIES – stunning stop motion short film from the SFF


Feed your dreams or they may feed on you.

Director Isabel Peppard began her career as a prosthetics makeup artist. She uses skills associated with SPFX makeup to explore a wide range of creative practices from sculpture to performance art to stop-motion animation. Butterflies is her second stop-motion animated short.

This Tim Burtonesque stop motion animation is stunning. It is filled with meanings, values, themes and a lifetime, all in a 12min film. It is mainly voiced by Rachel Griffiths and this one nudges in front of the other animated film, A Cautionary Tail, voiced by Cate Blanchett. To me this one had more heart, and I can see Isabel Peppard, the director, with a feature film very soon.

The film speaks to dreaming and keeping your mind active, do not allow your life, dreams and happiness to be crushed and never let go of your reasons for inner joy. It is dark, sad, stunning and incredibly beautiful.


5 Pops




NGURRUMBANG short film for the SFF. Directed by Alex Ryan and Produced by Jiao Chen
NGURRUMBANG short film for the SFF. Directed by Alex Ryan and Produced by Jiao Chen


The fiery daughter of a colonial farmer discovers the truth behind her family’s new land after she reluctantly saves a wounded Aboriginal boy from drowning.

Director Alex Ryan, a graduate of the University of Technology Sydney and AFTRS, has directed award-winning shorts, promos and music clips for major music labels.

This one is a high production value tale with incredible set, super acting, and a brilliant realism and capture of the colonial time. Alex Ryan directs a brilliant 18min short of a story I could easily see as a feature in a cinema in this country. It should also be noted I got the surprise of my life when I found out that a friend of mine, Jiao Chen produced this. I knew Jiao when he was studying at AFTRS and it is great to see how far he has come and the quality of his work is brilliant!!

Now this really isn’t a trailer, but it is a clip and gives a great snapshot of the film.



4 and a Half Pops






Stepping out into the rain John is captivated by the rich and varied soundscape that envelops him: the water splashing in the blocked gutter, cascading down the wall, rhythmically drumming into the water-soaked lawn. For the past four months John has been living in total blindness – r¬estricted to the confines of his body. The rain brings depth, detail and contour to his environment – for the first time since losing his sight, he is addressed by the world. He feels alive.

John Hull lost his sight in 1983 and for the next three years he would keep a diary on audiocassette. Notes on Blindness: Rainfall is the first in a series of short films which dramatise excerpts from these diaries. This series will also be incorporated in the feature Into Darkness.

Such a short film, to the extent of the words. 3mins 38sec long and just spectacular. A simple spiritual look from a blind man’s perspective on the sound of rain. Brilliant use of slowed down high frame rate shooting, the slowing down of the rain inside the house is a spectacular thing to watch.

For more on this amazing short and John Hull visit this site – HERE

And here is a 37sec trailer from a 3min 38sec film 🙂



4 and a Half Pops




A CAUTIONARY TAIL - short film for the SFF
A CAUTIONARY TAIL – short film for the SFF


A Cautionary Tail is an animated short film starring Cate Blanchett, David Wenham and Barry Otto, and featuring an original score by award-winning composer Michael Yezerski. A dark, funny fable for children and adults alike, the story is told using a striking collage of 3D animated characters and hand-made miniature sets.

The film is screening in June at St Kilda International Film Festival, Sydney International Film Festival, Edinburgh International Film Festival and Palm Springs International ShortFest.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film, for the voices alone it is a winner, but throw in the super animation, some hilarity and dark humour and a tale/tail of finding your joy and individuality again and it is a win win. I would love to see director, Simon Rippingale, make a feature film, and after this little 14min beauty I do say some offers will be coming!



4 and a Half Pops


8) December 25


DECEMBER 25 - A Wendy Dent film for the SFF
DECEMBER 25 – A Wendy Dent film for the SFF


This one is one of the most powerful films in the festival and it only goes for 1min, yep, that’s 60secs. It is a look at a “private message” window on a computer as someone tries to write a message to their father. The entire thing is made by Wendy Dent and has some very strong themes – not telling you what they are – it goes for a minute 🙂


4 and a Half Pops




TAU SERU -  a short film for the SFF shot entirely in the Himalayas
TAU SERU – a short film for the SFF shot entirely in the Himalayas


A young nomad’s curiosity lies beyond the horizon in this Cannes-selected film, which was shot entirely in the Himalayas. If i can remember correctly the title means SMALL YELLOW FIELD. Which is ironic – there was no yellow fields and none of them are small. 🙂 This film is nearly silent, which adds to the majesty and beauty of the Himalayas, they are so powerful and spiritual as they are, the need no music. The nomad is more of a young sheep herder and this is pretty much a day in his life, all in 8mins. The landscape and the difference of life is so mesmerising, I would watch a feature length Docco on this kid.



4 Pops




HEAVEN -  a short film for the SFF
HEAVEN – a short film for the SFF


A desperate old man invades a heroin dealer’s home, making some very unusual demands.

Director Maziar Lahooti studied cinematography and directing at TAFE in Perth, and in 2009 graduated from the directing course at AFTRS, returning in 2012 to study for his Master of Screen Arts degree.

This is an incredibly powerful and sad film. But also beautiful and high in production values. The acting is beautiful and the AMOUR inspired short film will hold you spellbound and make you cry. What are your thoughts in euthanasia?


4 Pops




RAVAGE -  a short film for the SFF
RAVAGE – a short film for the SFF


Annabelle, a high-school teacher, is having a secret relationship with one of her students; but what seemed a harmless and exciting affair is becoming a very dangerous game.

Director Jaime Lewis studied at AFTRS in 2009 and has since worked on music videos, documentaries, television and features.

These are my notes scribbled while watching – they say it all;

Right or wrong? Stupid asshole shit student, dumb teacher, ridiculous situation, horrible powerful, too dark for SFF? and how weird is it seeing classrooms all with large Mac computers – we had books 🙂

I liked it for its powerful message but got angry with the situation – I wanted to kill the students and this is bad thoughts. Should she have gotten herself into that situation? There is no excuse for it but she should never have been in that situation. Conundrum film!!


4 Pops




LA PIONNIERE - a short film for the SFF
LA PIONNIERE – a short film for the SFF


This is a found-footage documentary that pays homage to cinema pioneer Alice Guy (1873-1968), the world’s first female movie director and producer. This is a docco of compiled footage and it is awe inspiring and very hard to take your eyes off. Film back then was basically magic and Alice was magic, it was spectacular watching this 13min German doccco about this pioneer. I bow to her and the likes of Cameron, Spielberg and all film makers should bow before a statue of her.


4 Pops


13) KM


KM - a short film for the SFF
KM – a short film for the SFF


From the assistant director of Dogtooth, and starring actor Aris Servetalis from 2012 Sydney Film Prize-winner Alps, this is a beautifully crafted story of a fractured relationship.

The entire thing is these two people in a car – it goes for 13mins and for that amount of time inside a car the cinematography was incredibly well done. I found the film too drawn out but with a great reveal and ending. It is a very standard film festival short – if the theme was “car”, this would be up there for a Tropfest win.


3 and a Half Pops




ELLEN IS LEAVING - a short film for the SFF
ELLEN IS LEAVING – a short film for the SFF


Ellen is cool. She is recycling stuff before she heads overseas including her boyfriend. She decides to gift him to a new girlfriend, but can she really give him up?

Winner of the Narrative Shorts section at SXSW, this is a familiar Antipodean tale of a young woman leaving her boyfriend for a European sojourn.

Winner of the Golden Gate Award for Narrative Short at San Francisco Film Festival.

I would have like to have seen this as a feature film – it is incredibly quirky and epitomises the 20 something share house decor and op shop lifestyle. NZ Director, Michelle Savill manages to capture a great portrait of this lifestyle and a strong sense of loving and farewell and of belonging. I would have scored this higher but I disliked the end.


3 Pops




PABLO'S VILLA -  a short film for the SFF
PABLO’S VILLA – a short film for the SFF


In 1985 a picturesque Argentinian holiday town was completely flooded, not to re-emerge until 2009. Now only Pablo remains in this modern day Atlantis.

83yr old Pablo is a brilliant old man – you just want to hug him – he was the only person that remained and assumed the town would be rebuilt – it is eery seeing the before the flood footage and the fact he remained 24yrs is sad but beautiful. The short has the most beautiful steel stringed guitar music throughout and filming is beautiful – especially on the hands and face of the relic, Pablo.


3 Pops


16) HOME


HOME -  a short film for the SFF
HOME – a short film for the SFF


A house journeys through some of the most spectacular and challenging landscapes in the South Island of New Zealand. What an amazing a fortunate thought to take to capture this film. The film barely has any humans in it and the film was a once in a lifetime opportunity – place camera in a house being towed the most remarkable journey in NZ – I am surprised Gandalf did not ride past – as usual the South Island of NZ is just spectacular and the main character, the house, is strong and withstands most – this was the first film I watched for the SFF and I had a big smile on my face at the ending. Very clever.


3 and a Half Pops




THE VILLAGE - a short film for the SFF
THE VILLAGE – a short film for the SFF


This film provides an insight into the daily life of the inhabitants of Itapuã, a tiny town in the south of Brazil, that is about to vanish. I have to be honest – these last two films did nothing for me. This one was nicely shot, about a day in the life of the inhabitants of this once thriving place that became a leper colony, they go about their daily lives and have a good sense of community with each other. I am pretty sure all the remaining people still suffer from leprosy but I was totally zoning out – my apologies.


2 Pops




CHILDREN PLAYING - a short film for the SFF
CHILDREN PLAYING – a short film for the SFF


A group of children from a small Indigenous community in the Kimberley region takes us on a tour of their town and its surroundings. This is literally and exactly what this film is – a tour of the kid’s daily life. I found it quite tedious, it would make sense if it had a purpose but it was a “let’s follow them around and let them lead the film”. The kid’s were great but I found no purpose to the short film – besides the surroundings I could make one of these films in my town. In fact, Terrigal has a wicked beach and lots of kids – I could be in the SFF next year 🙂


2 Pops


THAT’S ALL FOLKS – I hope you liked our selection and get the opportunity to see some of them – congratulations to my faves and I apologise if I did not like your film or rate it higher than you would have liked, if you even read this 🙂 But remember this is all based on my tastes and everyones tastes are different or the world would be a bloody boring place 🙂