Interview with Bridget Ikin
Bridget Ikin is an independent film producer who became involved in the Shedding Light Film festival while she was the General Manager at SBS Independent. As part of Adelaide Festival 2002, Shedding Light is a program of 5 Australian feature films and 5 international feature films. Shedding Light also features the Casting Shadows program, which is 5 collections of Indigenous short films, and the F5 program which is a series of forums and master classes with the filmmakers, including Rolf de Heer (Bad Boy Bubby, Dance Me To My Song), and special guests such as Rachel Perkins (Radiance, One Night The Moon) and Scott Hicks (Shine, Hearts In Atlantis).
Bridget is very close to the project, having been the executive producer on commissioned films that were made specifically for the festival. One of her main roles was guaranteeing that the films would have the financial support to ensure they were completed on time for the festival.
“One of the unique aspects about Shedding Light is that 4 of the 5 Australian feature films being shown were specially commissioned to premier at Adelaide Festival 2002, unlike most other film festivals which select already completed films from all around the world. The strength of these new films developed the F5 program, which will give the audience a chance to interact with the filmmakers from each film. The international films have been selected because they compliment the Australian films. Shedding Light is also unique for its strong Indigenous themes, although that was not a criteria for selection.”
“The interest behind doing a festival of this nature, and producing films with Indigenous content, began around about the occurrence of the reconciliation walks, when more and more people started taking notice of the importance of this issue. Filmmakers, and other artists, have always been at the forefront of social and political expression, hence reconciliation is now an emerging theme in film.”
“Many different funding groups are now deliberately supporting Indigenous filmmakers. Not only have SBS Independent and Adelaide Festival 2002 partly funded the new films, but other groups such as the Australian Film Commission have also recognised the importance of allowing unrepresented voices to be expressed. Such groups realise that while many Indigenous people may not have formal training in film, they do have important, and entertaining, stories to tell.”
Such stories deserve the wide audience that Shedding Light is hoping to attract. Being part of a larger arts festival, many of the films have explored the relationship between film and other media. Rolf de Heer’s The Tracker is complimented by Ark, James Geurts’ media instillation, which explores the relationship between the film crew and the Aboriginal Elders, and the relationship between film technology and the desert locations used. The Tracker also incorporates original paintings by Peter Coad within the film.
“Rolf’s use of Peter’s paintings in The Tracker evolved during the filmmaking process. Rolf was concerned about the depiction of violence on screen. While violence was a crucial aspect to his film, he did not want to literally show violent acts that might be enjoyed by people who like violent spectacle in cinema. So to convey the emotional intensity of the violence, without making it voyeuristic, Rolf worked with Peter to develop paintings that would be inserted into the film in place of violent acts. Peter came on location and worked with Rolf to decide when the paintings would appear and what emotions they should generate.”
Although Bridget found it impossible to pick a favourite film or highlight she does recommend opening night as potentially one of the most exciting moments in the festival. On Saturday 2 March, The Tracker will have its world premier with its film score being performed live. This will include a special appearance by singer/songwriter Archie Roach whose vocal talents will accompany the live score.
Running from 2 to 8 March in Adelaide and then touring regional South Australia from 8 to 14 March, Shedding Light promises to be a film event not to be missed.
“As well as celebrating screen culture, Shedding Light will give audiences a sense of what is important to filmmakers and artists. This reflects what is being felt by society on a larger scale. The festival also reminds us the role of the artist in the community. Artists reflect national identity and explore the complex issues that are predominant in their country and community.”
For more information of the films, venues, and other special events visit www.adelaidefestival.org.au/
An edited version of this interview originally appeared in Filmink, Feb 2002, Vol 5.6