A reprieve from the Melbourne winter may be out of the question, but with two films premiering at the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) this month, Amy Gebhardt is still looking forward to her harbourside stay.

“It's kind of the high point of going through the filmmaking process – to present your film; to be there; to share a unified space with the public in watching your film on the big screen,” the filmmaker told IF last week, “to me that’s the big reason why I make films.”

Her first offering for festival-goers is the Moira Finucane-centred documentary Carnival Queen – one Melbourne icon, 40 artists and three weeks to put together a two-hour show for the Melbourne International Arts Festival.

“It was pretty chaotic,” laughs the director.

“I had my own chaos going on – I was director, producer, DOP [director of photography] … That was actually great because I do love making documentary when it’s just me and a soundy – you can be really discreet within their world,” she continues.

The project is the first where Gebhardt has used the small Canon 5D MkII camera. "It's quite tough on your eyes for focus – so it was quite challenging.”

The Screen Australia, SFF and YouTube initiative Map My Summer will come to fruition at the premiere of We Were Here – Gebhardt was selected by Dr George Miller to fashion the film from public submissions.

“I was quite concerned to begin with,” she confesses, “just getting the clips in isolation – they had a disparate feel to them, and I had no idea how I was going to pull it together into something meaningful.”

Still tweaking the music and sound design with Nick Myers ahead of the premiere in two weeks, Gebhardt seems satisfied with her output – “what comes out is quite an emotional journey really, in terms of where we are right now as a nation.”

“A festival; it’s a fabulous way to celebrate the process and share it [your movie] with an audience.”

However, it won’t just be her own films that see Gebhardt slipping into a cinema this month: “It looks like an incredible program, I can’t wait – I’m going to be there for the whole time.”

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