Map of the Heart and Afterhours join forces this Valentine's Day to showcase a selection of short films of love, by acclaimed directors from across the globe. We talked to Afterhours founder Manuela Leigh about some of her favourite films and filmmakers, and what Afterhours is bringing to the community.
"I WANTED TO BRING THE (FILM) CONVERSATION TO A REAL, PHYSICAL SPACE WHERE WE COULD PRESENT FILMS THAT MIGHT NOT BE EASILY ACCESSIBLE FOR OTHERS."
What is Afterhours and what was the reason for starting it?
Afterhours is a weekly film night I started two years ago. It essentially began from conversations with my friends sharing films which we love, which move us, or conflict us, or films which we thought were just so, so weird. I wanted to bring that conversation to a real, physical space where we could present films that might not be easily accessible for others.
I spend a lot of time reading about films and directors, and interesting anecdotes or articles from film sets. I decided to compile this information and try to present it as part of an interesting, cohesive program which hopefully others would enjoy.
At first, Afterhours sessions were rather sporadic, but we have now launched it as a weekly free event at Freda’s Bar.
Do you think there’s room for improvement within the film community here?
For me, cinema culture in Sydney has felt somewhat exclusive and non accessible in the decade I have lived here. There doesn’t appear to be a a big focus on cinema in Sydney on behalf of the city. Although I cant just comment on the negative aspects- the free film program at AGNSW is incredible as well, as is the programming at Golden Age Cinema. I think this city is ready for a bigger focus on film and the incredible history Australian Cinema has to offer. I think a huge improvement would be funding for a Sydney Cinematheque .
How do you approach curating the program?
Curating the program is fun, but a lot of work. There’s countless hours of research involved, because for me, perspective is invaluable. Trying to select and get access to stories from all over the world and shifting the gaze from what is traditionally a cis white male dominated industry can be very difficult. I don’t want to create a program for only one type of cinephile, so I try to approach it differently. I dont want Afterhours to feel exclusive or elitist, so I try to keep the program not too heavy or intimidating as well. Afterhours has been my first attempt at curating or programming, so I’m constantly learning.
Who are some of your favourite filmmakers?
I don’t know if this considered to be quintessentially ‘millennial’, but a very obvious answer for me is Xavier Dolan. He is an incredible filmmaker, and most of his films are my all-time favourites. I think Agnes Varda is incredible as well – my favourite film of hers is Gleaners and I.
A recent documentary which we screened a few months ago was Hell Bento by Anna Broiniwski. I was very lucky in having her attend the screening and do a Q&A after the film.
What’s next for Afterhours?
We are also about to launch our second bi-annual program! We will now have monthly themes as well as more special collaborations (like this one!) and some pretty cool guest curators. The program will launch in April.
Interview by Map of the Heart