Nurses tell their stories

The NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival brought nurses to the big screen as never seen before – in the ultimate celebration of the wonderful job of nurses for International Nurses’ Day 2009.

Rapturous applause was the resounding reaction to the opening night of the NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival. The inaugural film festival, held at NIDA’s (National Institute of Dramatic Art) Parade Theatre in Sydney, featured 17 short-listed films made by NSWNA members – all with a nursing theme and starring nurses.

Film critic Paul Byrnes, who presented  awards for the winning films, observed the historically negative portrayals of nurses in film. The most unforgettable being Nurse Ratched, a sadistic tyrant in the film One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, who exemplifies the stereotype of the nurse as battle axe. There’s also hot ‘Hot Lips’ Houlihan from the M*A*S*H television series, showing a sexy nurse stereotype; and Nurse Betty, a nurse who is sweet but deluded, vacuous, and compliant.

The NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival shattered the mould of negative nurse stereotypes. The festival reflected the diversity of nurses and showcased courageous, honest, and poignant portrayals of nurses and nursing – as never before seen on the big screen.

Opening the festival, NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes said,  ‘The NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival has been an exciting opportunity for members to portray nurses in a realistic, positive light. The festival has enabled nurses to tell their own stories. They have taken control of how nurses and nursing are portrayed.

‘The films show different aspects of nursing. There are passionate, creative, sensitive, evocative and provocative takes on nursing. We have films about dying, mental health and the future of nursing,’ said Brett.

The film makers – all NSWNA members – were asked to write, direct and produce films up to five minutes long in any style. The range of entries included comedies, documentaries, dramas, even a musical.

Entries came from members across the State, and among the filmmaker finalists were rural and regional members from Murrumburrah-Harden District Hospital, Coffs Harbour Health Campus, Lismore Hospital, Taree Community Health, Clarence Valley Mental Health Service, Royal Newcastle Centre and Lithgow Community Health.

Proudly sponsored by First State Super, the NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival was judged by RPA producer Patrick McInerney, Managing Director of Shannon’s Way Michael Daddo, and independent film producer Pearl Tan.

The night kicked off with our filmmaker stars and guests sashaying down the red carpet to a glamorous cocktail party.

There was even a special appearance by ubiquitous film critics David Stratton and Margaret Pomeranz.

The first NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival was deemed enormous fun and a huge success by all the film makers, guests, critics, and media in attendance.

NSWNA General Secretary Brett Holmes promised that the nurses’ film festival would become a regular on the arts calendar. ‘Welcome to the new kid on the Australian arts scene. The appeal of the NSWNA Nurses Short Film Festival goes beyond just nurses. It covers issues relevant to the general community.

‘Budding film makers, start thinking about your entry for next year,’ he said.