The sunny, birchwood studio on the ground floor of Donkey Wheel House has a fabulous new tennant! We were excited to see a removal truck arrive in the laneway and fill the space with an office full of furniture. We would like to extend a warm welcome the crew from Human Rights Arts and Film Festival.
We were curious about what it takes to run the film festival, so we spoke to the CEO, Tracee Hutchison, about her role as the CEO. What we discovered was her dedication to human rights throughout her incredibly prolific career in media. She also discussed the curation of the major themes for #HRAFF2016 and spoke about the big plans to take the festival to Footscray for the very first time!
As with many festivals, volunteer work and fundraising is extremely important. If you want to get involved, all donations are tax deductable, there is a fundraiser next month at Cinema Nova and you still have time to submit your short film!
It is a strange but fitting coincidence that earlier this year, Tracee had a set of photos taken in Godfrey street - directly across from her new window!
Firstly, welcome to the building! For newcomers, would you like to give us the lowdown on what HRAFF is all about?
Thanks for the warm welcome ~ we're really thrilled to have set up home in the coolest building in town!
HRAFF is Australia's premier, not-for-profit human rights arts & film festival, engaging and inspiring audiences on social justice and human rights issues through film, art, music and conversation. We run for two weeks in Melbourne in May and then Canberra, Sydney, Brisbane, Alice Springs, Darwin & Perth through May/June.
HRAFF is in between seasons at the moment, but there’s still a lot going on! What have you got coming up at the moment?
We're in full swing planning for our annual film fundraiser at the Nova on November 25, we'll be screening a film called 'The Look of Silence', Joshua Oppenheimer’s 2014 documentary, a companion piece to his Academy Award nominated feature The Act of Killing, about the 1965 Indonesian genocide. There's a lot of buzz about this film, it's a really important commentary on Indonesian's history.
Still from The Look of Silence (2014)
Your routine must vary a lot throughout the year, but what would a day in the life of the festival CEO look like?
At the moment we're planning some great events and securing a fantastic line up of films for the 2016 Festival. Next year our major themes will focus on the stories of our oldest and newest Australians ~ we're curating a suite of indigenous films, music and forums at our festival hub ACMI (and maybe Donkey Wheel House!), and taking HRAFF out of Melbourne's CBD for the first time to the Footscray Community Art Centre in a really exciting partnership with our friends at the Asylum Seeker Resource Centre's Music Group. I'm really proud of these initiatives as the showcase of our 2016 program.
But when we're not getting exciting about the 2016 HRAFF program, I'm out meeting sponsors and philanthropic partners and writing grants like every other CEO of a not-for-profit arts organisation!
What is your background and how did you come to have this role at HRAFF?
I come from a media/broadcast journalist/producer background ~ I started broadcasting at JJJ in my early twenties when I thought music could change the world. I still do. I guess I've looked for every opportunity in my media work to be an advocate for social change and social justice. I've had some pretty cool opportunities along the way too. I've interviewed people like Patti Smith, Lou Reed, Nick Cave and Neil Young as a reporter/producer at 7.30 Report. I had some incredible years at 3RRR as Program Director/Broadcaster when the station built and relocated to purpose built studios in Brunswick. Kind of stressful, but a fantastic community achievement to have been part of.
I've directed film clips, series produced a music show on SBS called 'Nomad' that discovered Silverchair, talent produced the early few series of Rockwiz and been an Executive Producer, Commissioning Editor and Producer/Director at ABC International. Fun times in radio and telly and it has been a huge part of my life.
I also wrote a column on social justice issues for a few years at The Age. And written a couple of books. I'm a very proud Ambassador of the Big Issue's Women's Subscription Enterprise.
This job at HRAFF - where we showcase the bold and brave creatives who hold a mirror up to the uneasy truths of our times - is the perfect fit. I'm really excited and really proud to be part of a fantastic, passionate and dedicated team. Malcolm & Lauren in programming, Vy in Marketing & Development (she shakes the money tree), Tilly is our Festival Administrator and holds the office together with chocolate brownies and Mon runs our Schools and Community screening program.
Funniest thing is, when I got some new CEO shots we took them in Godfrey Street... just outside our new window. Who would have thought!
For people who are inspired by your work and want to get involved, what can they do to support HRAFF?
We always welcome volunteers at festival time, we have teams of volunteers watching features and shorts for us at the moment and we have some incredible design volunteers who donate time and expertise to help what we do. We're also very open to partnering with like-minded organisations and businesses - which is why we're so thrilled and excited to be part of the Donkey Wheel House family. And, of course, donations to help us do what we do are tax deductible!
We're hoping we can have a little event on the top floor at DWHE so stay tuned for the update and thank you for the very warm welcome to the coolest building in town!
There's still time to submit your short film for the opportunity to move and inspire HRAFF audiences. Submissions close 27 November 2015.