This weekend West End will be a hub for cinephiles as the West End Film Festival kicks off with 14 of the best films from around Australia screened at the Rumpus Cinema.

We chatted with festival director Mike Witt about the festival and why it’s so important for the Brisbane film scene…

What can people expect from the West End film festival?

It’s a really unique experience. It’s an open air cinema, it’s a pop-up cinema, it’s in an urban setting and we serve alcohol. It’s really more of a festival environment than simply sitting down and watching a movie.

What sets it apart from other film festivals?

The opportunity to interact with the filmmakers, that’s pretty special. And also it’s really a community-based film festival; we cut our teeth in the West End streets before the industry is even involved.

What’s your pick from the finalists?

It would have to be the first film, about the 30th anniversary of the Commonwealth Games and the Indigenous Australians who protested against the games in Brisbane. It’s just a great indication of the solidarity of that community, the way they banded together for that cause.

This is the fifth year running – is there anything different to past festivals?

Not so much, we’ve been doing this configuration for a few years. We have just under 500 capacity in our outdoor cinema, the films look and sound great – there’s not much different. That will be next year…

What does the festival’s popularity say about the film industry in Brisbane?

It’s twofold; people want to come out and see and enjoy the films, and they also want to support the filmmakers too; but also the quality of films are outstanding. We have a lot of short films of a really impressive quality in Australia and especially in Queensland, and the quality of these films just really blows your mind.

Has the festival helped grow Brisbane’s film industry?

Film festivals are such a great platform for the industry to work on and around, they give so much to the film industry and local community too. And just the amount of networking is outstanding too, you have directors talking to animators – it’s really important for any industry to have these, it builds the community on so many different levels.

What should aspiring filmmakers consider before creating an entry for next year’s festival?

Short films should be short. We get a lot of films that are 15 to 20 minutes long, and they’ve got to be really good to be that long. So keep them short and punchy.

Check out the West End Film Festival on 23 March at the Rumpus Cinema – for more information see our event guide.