February 17, 2007
WHEN Mark Bellamy was overtaken by road rage, angrily chasing another driver after a near collision, he was surprised by what happened at the next traffic lights.
"When I wound down the window and had a bit of a yell at him, the guy had tears in his eyes and said he was sorry – he’d just made a mistake," the Darlinghurst television producer-director says.
"That event has stayed with me. I don’t think I’ve ever yelled at anyone in traffic since."
A dramatised version of that incident features in a film that Bellamy has in the shorts festival Tropfest tomorrow night. He takes a comic approach to a normally unfunny subject in Road Rage.
"I think we get lost in our own lives," says Bellamy. "We end up taking out a lot of our frustrations and anger day-to-day on people who don’t deserve it."
The year of the sneeze – the "signature item" required to be included in every entry to indicate it was made specifically for Tropfest – is a strong one for comedies on serious subjects.
Even the Cronulla riots are treated jokingly in Between the Flags, when two rivals find themselves the first to arrive at the beach and wonder how they should behave until everyone else arrives. The final 16 films have been culled from almost 600 entries.
"The thing you get excited about with a festival like Tropfest is so many people seeing your film and testing your storytelling with such a large audience," Bellamy says.
"It’s like playing a rock festival as a filmmaker."
Like many other entrants, he hopes the festival helps him break into feature films. But this is the first time he has entered since being a finalist in 1999.
"I remember driving past last year when they were setting up the big screen," Bellamy says. "I couldn’t watch. I was like ‘Mark, you should have made a film this year’."
He only just made it. Having shot Road Rage for $3000, it was entered with four hours to spare.
"I didn’t want to drive past the Domain again and see the big screen without me being part of it."
Screenings start at 7.40pm with live broadcasts to other capitals and eight regional venues, including Wagga Wagga and Singleton.
Expected to attend are the designer Catherine Martin, who will present an award to encourage women filmmakers, Andrew Denton, Bryan Brown, Rachel Ward, Joel Edgerton and Hugo Weaving, whose brother Simon has the animated The Story of Ned in the finals.