It’s RGFF time again.

And this year, the festival is celebrating a milestone for any institution: ten years in existence.


Founded in 2014, the festival of short films by Australian filmmakers has gone up every autumn — originally in March, now in April — at a Melbourne area venue, lately Lido Cinemas in Hawthorn. It’s not actually the tenth annual festival, since there were two years in there the festival took off — and even if it had been on every year, this would be the 11th annual, not the tenth, because you have to count the first one and the most recent one in your calculations.

But here at ReelGood we like to celebrate round numbers, and the reality is, this baby is ten years old.

So we here at the sister website want to whet your appetite with a preview of what you’ll be seeing on Saturday, April 27th, at the aforementioned Lido Cinemas kicking off promptly at 10 a.m. You can put yourself on the list for tickets here.

This will be the first of four previews running over the next two weeks as we count down to the festival, and we’re starting with highlights from this year’s animated shorts program.


The program will heavily feature the work of Melbourne filmmakers Van Sowerine and Isobel Knowles, who met in art school and have been collaborating for nearly 25 years. Five films from their fruitful career in stop motion animation will be playing at RGFF24, and we’re going to focus on two of these today.

The first is Clara, a melancholy 2004 film that explores a connection between two women — two dolls, actually — only one of whom is still among the living. The other is lying in a coffin in what appears to be the living room of the title character’s house. Much must be interpreted in a Sowerine-Knowles film, as the work is known for its lack of dialogue and reliance on an eerie score and sound design — though to call the work Lynchian would probably put too fine a point on what the filmmakers are doing. What they’re really doing is creating a space in which to consider the profundity of the world, and Clara provides amply in that regard.


As does Out in the Open, which will have a familiar backdrop for Melburnians: the Queen Vic Market. Created for an installation held in that very space, the 2016 film considers an ageing vendor who appears to be grieving the loss of a loved one. He engages in a sort of dance with the metal stalls that house his goods after hours, as these stalls shuffle around the space and reveal their inner contents, each of which trigger the man’s memories of an earlier time. Again, though, all of this is left unsaid, and each viewer can pour his or her own experiences into what’s on screen.

The contemplative mood continues with Teacups, Alec Green and Finbar Watson’s painterly 2023 short considering the role an average person can play in saving lives. Voiced by Hugo Weaving, the main character is Don Ritchie, an Australian who, with his wife, lived in a location directly adjacent to The Gap in Sydney’s Eastern suburbs, where the despondent would come to end their lives. Proffering them a cup of tea and a listening ear, Don and his wife prevented hundreds of suicides.


Green and Watson’s film draws on a classic mid-century pop art style that makes strong uses of primary colors, though these are often muted — literally, as well as figuratively by the story’s subject matter. In his own words voiced by Weaving, Don gives us a modest impression of his impact, which grew out of everyday charitable impulses — and the visuals add the remaining poetry his words do not.

The final animated short we’re looking at today is not any less bleak on the surface, but it has a more whimsical undercurrent that narrowly places it within the realm of comedy. In the Maru Collective’s Dies Irae, we are invited to experience the world through the perspective of a pair of cherubic angels, who prop their elbows on the clouds to watch a narrative unfold between pigs in and around an apartment building. The apartment building is sliced open, Wes Anderson style, so we can see what’s going on on all the floors as well as the external fire escapes.


And what’s going on is bloody mayhem. If you follow closely the miniature characters, who remain at a fixed size on screen, you’ll see a story of deception and murder worthy of a good soap opera or telonovela. What the angels’ thoughts are on all this is not entirely clear. But if it were, it would not tease and tantalise you like the best shorts should.

RGFF is on Saturday, April 27th. Come and get your tickets here.