On Friday at Luna Park, AFTRS had its first whole-school graduation ceremony. As you’d expect, there was plenty of multimedia, and also as you’d expect it was beset by technical SNAFUs – but came through in the end. It was a nice touch to have a new cohort of media professionals being released on the world in a large room with the Harbour resplendent outside one set of windows and fairground machinery spinning outside the other. Peter Garrett gave a ministerial speech and left. Sandra Levy gave a CEO speech and shook the hand or kissed the cheek of every graduate, except one or two who accepted their testamurs and walked past her, oblivious.

Then yesterday we spent the afternoon at the Entertainment Quarter watching the fabulous AFTRS graduate screenings: five hours, 17 directors, 17 short movies. We would have stayed on for the Graduate documentaries (1 hour, 24 even shorter films) but we hadn’t checked out the program thoroughly enough in advance and had made other plans. What we did get was terrific. Here are some of my favourites, so when they turn up at a festival near you you’ll be able to say you read about them somewhere ages ago.

  • Craig Boreham, Ostia – La Notte Finale: the death of Pasolini, in subtitled Italian neo-realism, presumably shot around Sydney
  • Lucy Gaffy, The Lovesong of Iskra Prufrock: a radiographer dares to love in spite of the shadow
  • Martha Goddard, The Bridge: extraordinarily economic (and funny and suspenseful) evocation of a young woman’s complex life as artist, cynical media employee, family member, tenant, receiver of kindness.
  • C J Johnson, The Bris: a comedy involving old age, death, genital mutilation, religious inflexibility, and finally tender celebration, from a short story by Eileen Pollack.
  • Maziar Lahooti, Loveless: of the many offerings about young people dealing with love, sexism, drugs, despair, etc., I liked this best, perhaps because it incorporated elements of the heist genre.
  • Tresa Ponnor, Sosefina: I wouldn’t be surprised to see this turn up on ABC3 – a Pacific Islander schoolgirl in a colour saturated world tries to join the’popular’ group, but finds home is best.
  • Alex Ryan, Valhalla: I’m the director’s father and make a brief appearance in the background of one shot, so feel free to discount my opinion, but I loved this grainy glimpse of a dystopian future, playing an elusive adventure story off against the tentative beginnings of a relationship.

Added later: Alex told me that some of his fellow graduates already have established bodies of work. I’ve added links.

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