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Claire Hooper Photograph supplied by Token 2019
Photograph: SuppliedClaire Hooper

You can watch St Kilda Film Festival’s opening night for free tonight with host Claire Hooper

We spoke to the Melbourne comedian about presenting the opening of the virtual St Kilda Film Festival tonight

Nick Dent

Major short film festival the St Kilda Film Festival opens tonight (Friday June 12) at 8pm with a live ceremony followed by the streaming of 11 highlight films. The session is free to watch from the festival website, along with the full festival program from 10pm until June 20.   

Produced by the City of Port Phillip and curated by Richard Sowada, the St Kilda Film Festival is a showcase of the 100 best new short films made in Australia. Switching from the Palais Theatre to online for the first time, tonight’s event will be hosted by top Australian comedian Claire Hooper, who spoke to us from her home in Brunswick while fending off her small daughter.

Hi Claire, how are you?
Hold on just a sec [speaks off the phone]. Sorry, I’ve got a four-year-old at home. Remember that BBC reporter and the two little kids walking into his office, and how we laughed so hard? That’s just every day of our lives now. 

So tonight’s opening event will be livestreamed. What will that involve for you?
The Welcome to Country will be done in the Palais foyer, and I will be in front of a shiny curtain up in Brunswick at an independent film studio called Stupid Old Studios, and somebody will be toggling over to me at the right moment. Gosh, it’s weird. My duties are to bring people on, and then kick off the short films. There’s 11 highlight films in the session, a lovely little night’s viewing.

Any favourites in tonight’s lineup?
They’re all incredible in different ways. There’s a horror film that I love (‘Bedtime’) and a comedy-based-on-horror that I adored called ‘Rebooted’. That’s about a claymation skeleton who used to be a star of the movies and now that the technology has moved on, this skeleton is turning up to auditions and being turned down. It’s the most charming idea, and perfectly realised. I loved it. 

Are you a St Kilda Film Festival regular?
I have been to opening night before but I haven’t hosted it. I am so excited to be given this responsibility and doing it in this newer, riskier way. That’s exciting, but I’m also a bit jealous because normally it’s in this amazing, beautiful theatre with a sold-out crowd of 3,000. 

Time Out is presenting the festival’s Australian Comedy Showcase. Have you seen any films in that program?
I’m really looking forward to that. I’ve already seen ‘Kanga Rules’, it’s really funny… excuse me [off the phone] – I’m talking on the phone kiddo! Double-sided sticky tape is hard, we’ll play with it in a sec OK?... I’m going to shut the door on my crying child now. She’s OK.

The concept of the film is that this guy gets drunk and pitches the idea for a film to [actor] Brett Climo and it’s a ridiculous film about a kangaroo escaping from the zoo and joining the local football team. With a ridiculous taxidermied kangaroo. I assume it’s taxidermied because it’s very stiff. Or maybe it’s just bad at acting.

“I assume the kangaroo is taxidermied because it’s very stiff. Or maybe it’s just bad at acting”

There’s a film in the showcase with Larry Emdur in it – ‘Larry Time’.
Oh is there? Larry Emdur is a wonderful man. His Instagram is much funnier than you expect for a commercial TV guy. That’s my hot Instagram tip for you.

And finally, will we be seeing you in more episodes of The Great Australian Bake Off anytime soon?
We haven’t filmed any. But it’s not like Mel [Buttle] and I are doing much. So at the point it becomes safe to gather people together and share food again, then maybe this will happen again. I was always proudly a non-baker on that show, but let it be known that during iso, I have baked more than in my entire life. I’ve never baked so many biscuits, cakes and breads. So I’m probably going to be insufferable if we ever get back on set.

Discover more highlights of the St Kilda Film Festival 2020.

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