Short films, big screens, bold stories: St Kilda Film Festival is back with its biggest program to date

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Short films, big screens, bold stories: St Kilda Film Festival is back with its biggest program to date

Melbourne On Dylan

St Kilda Film Festival is back in 2023 with an awe-inspiring and diverse showcase of the best Australian short films set to light your fire this winter.

The longest-running short film festival in Australia, the St Kilda Film Festival is back for another year (its 39th at that!) of bringing local talent to the cinema screen. Each year the festival receives hundreds of submissions from around the country, with the best being handpicked for screening and now the full program has arrived in what is the festival’s biggest to date.

Presented by City of Port Phillip, this year the highly-anticipated program features more than 100 films to be shown over 18 screening sessions at venues across St Kilda, and for the first time also bursting out of St Kilda and into South Melbourne across Thursday 1 June – Monday 12 June 2023. The famous opening night event will return to The Palais on Thursday 1 June, welcoming back full-capacity crowds for the first time in four years – a triumph for the loved celebration of local filmmaking and screen production talents.

Stay up to date with what’s happening within the region’s art scene here

Drawn from a call for entries from hundreds of new short films from around the country, this year’s red-carpet opening night gala event features a sensational program of comedies, powerful drama, animation, horror and fantasy, emceed by the hilarious Claire Hooper. The screening will be followed by an after party which expands into Encore at St Kilda Sea Baths for a spectacular celebration of Australian short films.

As for the program, filled with short films, big screen and bold stories, the festival will take audiences on an incredible journey through some of Port Phillip’s iconic theatres including The Palais Theatre, The Astor Theatre and the Alex Theatre, as well as through many other creative and welcoming spaces throughout St Kilda and South Melbourne – both well-known hubs for the filmmaking community as well as fabulous destinations to eat, drink and celebrate.

In 2023 SKFF has drawn entries from an almost equal split of female and male directors and the festival is very privileged to be able to screen the work of these Australian filmmakers and showcase so many stories. Program highlights include:

Melbourne on Dylan (director Chris Franklin) – The Australian premiere of this documentary delves into Bob Dylan’s connection with Melbourne and explores the deep love of music we all have and the life- changing moments that start us on the long journey of exploration and appreciation.

MumLife (director Ruby Challenger) – This musical follows Sarah, a first-time mother from Sydney, who is struggling to connect with her newborn baby. She is pushed to her limits when she discovers a surprise birthday party has been organised for her 30th by her Insta-famous bestie.

Run South (directors Frank Magree, David Cleeve) – An Australian soldier is held captive during the Vietnam war. A young marine enters his world, presenting him with a harrowing choice.

Hen (director Alice Tovey) – When non-binary Gem attends their mate’s hen’s night, the girls turn from bubbly bridesmaids to raunchy demons. Gem could never have known just how far they would get under their skin.

Gravel Road (director Tristan Pemberton) – This documentary follows an eventful tour through the outback of Western Australia by the world’s most remote rock band, Desert Stars.  This award-winning feature length documentary presents an engaging chronicle of an Indigenous rock band that fuses Traditional Aboriginal Culture with Western Rock ‘n’ Roll as they embark on their debut tour across the outback. This is a highlight event as part of the First Nations program held at The Espy.

Blockhead and Sparkles and the Flood of Tears (Lauren Orrell, Digby Webster) – Best friends Blockhead and Sparkles are struggling under the pressure of running their own cake shop, but when the Sad Prince’s tears threaten to flood the entire village, they must do what they can to mend their friendship and save the day.

All the familiar favourite showcases and programs are also back for 2023 to take audiences on a diverse journey through the medium of short film, including the Australian Comedy Showcase, Pride Without Prejudice at the Victorian Pride Centre, Dark Matters, International Family Animation Explosion, and the Australian Documentary Showcase, among many others.

“We can’t wait to welcome back full capacity audiences for our biggest ever year. Audiences can look forward to an expanded program across St Kilda and beyond bringing short films to where people live. We’re embracing adventure and ambition and amplifying voices from all corners of the country,” says SKFF Director Richard Sowada.

“The festival embraces a range of traditional film forms and new and emerging ones including computer games, table-top games, VR and everything between to celebrate Victorian achievements in film.”

For more information on screenings and bookings, visit