St Kilda Film Festival: The festival director’s top picks

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St Kilda Film Festival: The festival director’s top picks

St Kilda Film Festival
Q&A with Lesleigh Luiten

We were lucky enough to chat with Festival Director Richard Sowada about his top picks for this year’s festival.

Proudly presented and produced by the City of Port Phillip, St Kilda Film Festival supports the Australian film industry by turning the spotlight on exceptional films by both emerging talent and short works by accomplished industry professionals. This year the festival is back for what is set to be its biggest festival to date, with a program that features over 100 films including comedies, powerful drama, animation, horror, and fantasy.

Keep up with the latest Melbourne film and television news here.

“This year we had more films entered than in previous years so decisions were tough, and every film had to earn its place – and I think you can see that fight in the program,” says Richard Sowada. “But I really look for unique voices. Those things that assert themselves with a different perspective and sense of risk and conceptual rigour.”

Here are festival director Richard Sowada’s top picks for this years festival, in his own words:

Melbourne on Dylan

This was such a high-quality documentary – very well made and very Melbourne! Despite how long ago the tour took place, the film seems contemporary and has so much energy. Love the footage, love the interviews, love the heart. It’s impressive!


Now this is a high-concept work. It’s packed with themes and sub-stories which can be a real menace and propel a film in all kinds of directions, but this thing is tight, tight, tight. The way it breaks out of expectation with some very smooth flourishes and balances a tough backdrop against tender emotions is ambitious and it works.


Another high concept and ambitious film, it’s a great achievement in visual FX and storytelling, whatever your measure. It’s absolutely not what it seems at the outset and fires itself off into some high-risk and ambitious directions. It’s an utterly surprising piece of filmmaking. You can really see where this is going and being there on the ground floor is pretty exciting.

Dies Irae

Every now and then, there’s a film that comes through that makes you wonder from what part of the brain it has emerged – and this is one such film. I’m predisposed to animation as a start, but this film set in a residential block populated by pigs all up to some form of no good, is so minimalist and odd, you can’t help but admire every minimalist detail and moment. It’s just so far out and cool.

The Party Job

  • Screening at: Australian Comedy Showcase
  • June 2 and June 8

It’s so great to see comedy back so that’s a good thing straight off the bat, but this has got such an off-kilter sense, it’s impossible not to love. If you’re a fan of that uncomfortable misfit type humour – it’s got a bit of an Austin film about it – this is perfect. But the way it spins back in on itself gives it a real honesty and surprising poignant punch. It’s funny.

Bucket in the Forest

Another high concept piece, I got grabbed by the beautiful poetic and inner nature of this film. It’s just beautiful and childlike. Kind of lonely, kind of filled with wonder, kind of sad, kind of curious, kind of innocent. I was drawn to its simplicity and felt it was somehow profound but wasn’t quite sure why. Very inwardly gentle and warm.

Mine Mine Mine

Now this film reminded me a little of Charles Burnette’s wonderful film Killer of Sheep and right from the start I was hooked. The visual composition of this film was just fabulous – weird and dreamy – and as a strange kind of interpretation of Peter Pan through a lens of disability, I was in love with it from the outset. I think it’s a very special film and so wonderfully atmospheric.


This tactile biography told through collected artefacts from the space race has got a lovely texture, thoughtful style and in its own way, a strange kind of historical journey through the cold war. I loved the fantastic colour and strangeness of the stuff from space food, to space toilets to space suits – it all seemed so weird and was told with a wry sense of humour and deep respect.


In the course of looking at all the films submitted to the festival, I see a lot of films about deep and difficult personal responses around life in the domestic environment including that of expectations around gender, parenthood and the emotional stress of perhaps not meeting those ideals. This crafty piece turns those hard emotions into what turns out to be quite a spectacular musical bursting with colour and sensational choreography and tune

Blockhead and Sparkles and the Flood of Tears

I told you I was drawn to animation, and this excellent work had me at the title. There’s so much in this fairytale-esque short and it’s impossible to resist. With such dynamic colour and innocence, it, like a lot of films in the program, has such a gentle spirit and abstract conceptual relationships. It’s fresh and fun.

Check out the Director’s Choice screening at the St Kilda Film Festival on June 12.

This article was made in partnership with St Kilda Film Festival