Filmmakers and film buffs flock to the Warburton Film Fest

Zak Marrinan (right) accepts his award from Yarra Ranges Film Society Treasurer Laurie Hastings. Picture: SUPPLIED

By Callum Ludwig

The 39th annual Warburton Film Fest was held from Friday 14 June to Sunday 16 June with film buffs coming to enjoy the selection of screenings.

At the conclusion of the event, three filmmakers were lauded for their efforts with awards in best cinematography, best original film and the winner of the Show Us your Shorts competition.

Zak Marrinan took out the Show Us Your Shorts competition with his film Last Chance, a film loosely based on his experience working as an attendant in the pokies of an RSL in the Outer East.

Mr Marrinan said it was all based on very true-to-life experiences he and his fellow coworkers have dealt with.

“I could see people groaning to the right spots when that happened and I depict gambling in a way that I believe is fairly accurate, where it is performed and used by people who are fairly vulnerable as a way to escape their reality a little bit,” he said.

“I definitely wanted to have a lot of people empathize with the main character of ‘Barb’, who’s a middle-aged woman dealing with young footy players who are very misogynistic, treat her like a second-class citizen and think they own the place, which I think resonated with them.”

Authenticity of the film is an important feature to Mr Marrinan in his film and others he has made, even only casting one professional actor in the group of ‘footy boys’, turning to mates of his that he thought would fit the role well and provide real lived experience.

“One thing that I’m a stickler for is that sometimes when I’m watching other short films or films, if I don’t believe the person whether it be the casting and what they’re saying, that’s where I fall out with the movie, the immersion’s lost,” Mr Marrinan said.

“In that industry, particularly for people who work in it and the typical customers, they’re both very vulnerable, I finished up working in that industry around the pandemic when it all got shut down but before then the regulation around problem gambling was dealt with with a soft touch,” he said.

“There were even moments where the bosses would encourage if people were spending lots of money in the pokies or in the TAB you just give them whatever they asked for to keep them spending money, that real ‘the dollar comes first, the person second’ attitude.”

Yanni Dellaportas was the winner of Best Cinematography for his film ‘Beautiful Storm’, a short film created to accompany an original music score captured in and around the Mornington Peninsula on the lands of the Boon Wurrung / Bunurong people.

Mr Dellaportas said Beautiful Storm is loosely based on the coffee table book of the same name, that he published in 2020 featuring thirty years of storm-chasing photography taken around the coastline of Victoria.

“I created the film to go with a piece of music I wrote and recorded under my other name ‘Bluzoid’, the music came from a volunteer commission I was given to create music for a dance based short film but the makers rejected my piece going with someone else’s but that didn’t stop me from fleshing out the original piano score into something more orchestral,” he said.

“I am grateful to my musician friends Natalie Parker (tin whistle, flute and trumpet) and Sally Carter (violin) for their contribution in recording my melodies. The music sat on the shelf for a few years as it had no connection to anything and I didn’t know how to release it,”

“Everything seemed to come together – the music, the film – all that symbolized my passion for storm chasing and our ever-changing and extreme weather events as a result of climate change.”

Beautiful Storm was one of two films Mr Dellapourtas had screened at the festival.

Mr Dellapourtas said he was actually quite surprised and shocked at winning the award.

“I had no idea, I get so close to my creations that most of the time I worry about technical details and whether I’ve made the right editing decisions, I was just so happy to have the film screened and to be able to others my work,” he said.

“I absolutely loved everything the Warburton Film Festival had to offer, it was so well run and curated, just being invited to screen two of my films was satisfaction enough, it could have ended there but I really enjoy community film festivals because the no budget, short film creating artist needs these to justify what they do.”

Olivier Bonenfant won Best Original Film for his short film Projected Line.

Mr Bonenfant said he was proud and honoured to be one of the three award winners.

“I think that the film is shot well enough, is tightly edited and that the voice-over performance is on-point, but I think the originality and overall vibe are what’s shining through so it’s a logical and fitting award for the film,” he said.

“The short film was shot in Sweden and Russia 10 years ago as I was backpacking with my partner in Scandinavia, Russia, China and South-East Asia before landing in Australia, we knew Stockholm and Moscow had fantastic-looking metro systems so I worked my way backward to find an idea that connected the two and that could be filmed without additional support,” he said.

“I’ve made and released heaps of short films over the years, so it’s not like I had only one project and it took me 10 years to deliver it but I’m immensely thrilled to see it finished on a big screen at last.”

Mr Bonenfant found the time to get back to the footage during Covid and after settling on the technique he wanted to use for the ending (which required heavy virtual effects), from 2020 to this year when the actors recorded their voiceover performances he found the film ‘really clicked’. The version in English was played at the Warburton Film Festival, but the original language version is in Swedish and Russian despite using the same Victorian actors Maria Nordenberg and Anton Kargapolov.