Our top picks from the 2021 St Kilda Film Festival program

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Our top picks from the 2021 St Kilda Film Festival program

Words by August Billy

This year’s St Kilda Film Festival is teeming with thought-provoking, visually stimulating filmmaking.

St Kilda Film Festival is Australia’s longest-running short film festival. 2021 is the festival’s 38th year of operations and sees a return to theatres after a last-minute switch to a digital event for 2020. SKFF is presented and produced by the City of Port Phillip, and this year’s stacked program was put together under the auspices of festival director, Richard Sowada.

SKFF prides itself on offering sweeping coverage of the national short film industry by providing a platform for both budding talent and established flowers of the local industry. Running from Thursday May 20 until Saturday May 29, this year’s festival is teeming with thought-provoking, visually stimulating filmmaking, spanning sublime animation, sci-fi brain-friers, First Nations’ storytelling and subtle and subversive social commentary.

Here are seven highlights from this year’s mammoth program.

Keep up with the latest film and TV news here.

System Error

System Error, the latest short film from South Australian director Matt Vesely, was scheduled to have its world premiere at the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival in New York City. COVID had other ideas, however, delaying Vesely this honour until the Festival’s rescheduled 2021 edition. Starring comedians Nick Nemeroff and local favourite David Quirk, System Error is finally making its way to the big screen for the opening night of the St Kilda Film Festival. The 13-minute comedy centres on the sad, lonely convenience store worker, George, whose psychological malaise is complicated by the fact he’s a robotic service unit.

System Error is screening on Thursday May 20 from 6:30pm. Tickets available here

Accounts of a Nuclear Whistleblower

From Melbourne filmmaker Naveed Farro (director of the 2017 short film, Grid Face) comes the documentary exposé, Accounts of a Nuclear Whistleblower. The titular whistleblower is Avon Hudson, who provides details of the British Government’s atomic testing in remote western South Australia in the 1950s and ’60s. The secretive testing program had a pernicious effect on the physical and mental health of the area’s Indigenous population, the Maralinga Tjarutja people. In Accounts of a Nuclear Whistleblower, Farro not only lifts the lid on these covert operations, but returns to Maralinga to survey the legacy of the nuclear tests.

Accounts of a Nuclear Whistleblower is available to watch online from Thursday May 20 – Saturday May 29 here


Forgive the pun, but Jahvis Loveday is one to watch. After gaining recognition with his previous short film, Home, Loveday’s latest, BAMA, is slated to appear at just about every short film festival around the country this year. This film stars Jahvis’ younger brother Elijah, charting his experiences as he leaves his Indigenous community to attend a private school in the city. Speaking with The Byron Shire Echo, Jahvis said BAMA is “a reflection of my emotions and my own life,” and the project gave him the chance to work through the emotions of missing his family and community.

BAMA is available to watch online from Friday May 21 – Saturday May 29 here

Two Little People

Xin Li’s Two Little People is a case study of longing. The three-minute animated short centres on two people living together in a wheat field. Li’s background is in Chinese ink painting and oil painting, which forms the basis of his paint-on-glass animation style. In Two Little People, Li uses these beautiful images to depict the emotional journey of a woman pining for the man who left her behind in the wheatfield they once shared.

Two Little People is screening on Sunday May 23 from 5:30pm. Tickets available here


Adelaide-based filmmaker Kiara Milera got her start writing for ABC TV’s Black Comedy in 2015. Most recently, she paired with fellow South Australian filmmaker Charlotte Rose to create Waiyirri, based on a script from actor Kate Bonney (who performs one of the film’s two leading roles). Waiyirri is a 17-minute short set in 1860s South Australia. The action revolves around Mary, a missionary’s wife, and Lacardi, a Ngarrindjeri woman. As Mary begins to question her life path, she observes the deep connections Lacardi has to Ngarrindjeri culture and Country.

Waiyirri is available to watch online from Thursday May 20 – Saturday May 29 here

Let’s Pretend!

Animator Jessica Edge describes Let’s Pretend! as an animated music video that explores the relationship between a young boy and his pregnant mum. Created by Edge as part of her Bachelor of Design (Honours) in Animation at Sydney’s UTS, Let’s Pretend! combines hand-drawn crayon stop motion and 2D computer hybrid techniques. The film’s three-year-old main character fears his mother’s love will diminish once the new baby arrives; a story arc influenced by the filmmaker’s own experiences of growing up as a big sister.

Let’s Pretend! is screening on Thursday May 27 from 6:30pm. Tickets available here

Objects of My Disaffection

RMIT Ph.D. candidate Sarah-Jane Woulahan has seen previous film projects screen at such esteemed events as the South By Southwest Film Conference in Austin, Texas and the Melbourne International Film Festival. Woulahan’s latest work is 16-minute short, Objects of My Disaffection, which she not only directed but also wrote and produced. It’s an emotionally powerful depiction of its protagonist’s fragmented mental state in the wake of a relationship breakdown. Dana Miltins appears in the lead role as a young mother grappling with the embedded symbolism of her material surroundings.

Objects of My Disaffection is screening on Saturday May 29 from 1pm. Tickets available here

St Kilda Film Festival is happening from Thursday May 20 until Saturday May 29. For more information, visit the SKFF website