Friday the 11th the Victoria Theatre transformed into a pop-up cinema for Adelaide’s new film festival, Test-Fest. 2019 is the first year of this festival which allows filmmakers to come and receive feedback on their works-in-progress.
The Victoria Theatre is a mixture between a haunted Gothic setting and a dystopian hideout. Cold concrete floors were decorated with small tables and chairs, with wooden bleachers and wooden seats off to the side. Roof scaffolding lay open to the elements. Dim lights hanging from a single cord.
Free food. Music. A pop up bar. Film. All the ingredients for a good night.
People milled about, drinking, talking, watching. Children ran around the open space, flopping down on beanbags becoming distracted by short films playing on two large flat screen televisions in the corner of the theatre.
All of these shorts have been entered in film festivals and showcase the talent Australia has on offer. Test-Fest provided the opportunity for the average Adelaidean to see what’s been created over the past couple of years. Everything from animation about a nine-year-old girl who enters the world of sumo wrestling, a claymation adaptation of Frankenstein, and an examination of lost love with the recurring motif of rock, paper, scissors.
Sitting in a beanbag as gracefully as one can sit on a beanbag, I watched Australian short after short, marvelling at the sheer talent and creativity we have. Now I can say I have officially cried in three movies: The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Les Miserables and The Sandpit, by Matt Pearson, a seven-minute film about a girl finding rocks in a sandpit.
On the main screen films which are still being workshopped were played. They were broken up by twenty- minute intervals to allow the audience the opportunity to give feedback through a short answer survey. Volunteers in high-vis vests walked around handing out clipboards and pens. As someone who is well versed in literary metaphors and techniques, visual and filmic techniques are a challenge for me to wrap my head around. Although this didn’t matter when getting feedback. Directors guided their viewers with the questions surrounding what they were most concerned about asking about everything from ‘was the music distracting’ to ‘what do you think about my main character?’
It was like an extended focus group, a chance for attendees to voice their views and for filmmakers to test their work. A safe space to show friends and family what they have been working on.
Test-Fest gave burgeoning filmmakers a chance to hear from their audiences, with the aim of “demystifying the filmmaking process” before the final product is revealed. It’s peering back to the curtain and having a peek into the inner workings of an artist’s mind, seeing the role of the director and their filmmaking process, to witness the work that goes into the creation of film.
The suburban Gothic film, Carrie is Great by Bryce Kraehenbuehl, Alex Salkicevic and Lauren Koopowitz and the Cormac McCarthy-esque, and On The Road to Old Man’s Town by Andrew Ilicic are definitely some new Australian projects that are worth keeping an eye out for.
Attending Test-Fest opened my eyes to the amount of local, South Australian talent there is, and allowed attendees to have an opportunity to give opinions and gain an insight into the often confusing and mystifying filmmaking process. It was definitely a night to remember and a showcase of our best talent.
For more information on Test Fest and to keep up with any future events check out their website or follow them via Facebook.
Review by Georgina Banfield
Header image: Test Fest Adelaide