Ruby Challenger is no stranger to ReelOzInd! — her first short film, Daily Bread, won both Best Film and Best Fiction in 2018.

This year will mark her debut as a member of the ReelOzInd! Jury, where she’ll be giving back to the festival that helped launch her career.

“I couldn’t have hoped for anything better for [Daily Bread]. ReelOzInd! is a wonderful festival, driven by passionate individuals,” Challenger detailed, crucial in providing short films “the opportunity to screen all around Australia and Indonesia.”

“Short film is a magical space where filmmaking storytellers can explore, play, make deeply moving pieces,” she continued, “and also have room to get them totally wrong!”

With a background in fine art and fashion, Ruby has worked in art and costume departments and has had numerous sell-out solo exhibitions of her own paintings. She takes inspiration from a variety of visual sources to inform her filmmaking, as well as a deep passion for telling stories that tap into the universal human experience. Her ReelOzInd! winning film documented her grandmother’s experiences surviving in a Japanese POW camp in Indonesia in the 1940s.

We’re pleased to welcome Ruby and her unique talent and passion to the judging panel, where she will help choose which short films from across Australia and Indonesia will screen at our premieres and travel across the region with our pop-up festival.

Ruby Challenger on stage at the ReelOzInd! 2018 Melbourne Premiere speaking with panel moderator Peter Krausz. (Image: AIC)

Do you remember the first short film that made an impression on you? If yes, could you describe why?

I wasn’t really a short film buff before I made Daily Bread, but then I was lucky to travel around the world with it, and it is then that I fell in love with the format. I went to almost every screening from every festival that Daily Bread was in! Short docos are a wonderful beast – they are an injection of information but above that, they hit you in the heart and leave you gasping.

What was the first thing you ever learnt about Indonesia?

That my grandmother grew up in Java. I was raised on the stories of climbing the mountains, leeches on her legs and falling out of the mango tree trying to grab the highest, juiciest fruit!

What has been your closest interaction with Indonesia? 

I first visited Java when I was nine years old, and I’ll never forget the feeling of being in this incredible land – the sights, sounds and smells blew my mind. Indonesia has always felt very close to my heart because it is the birth land of my dear grandmother.

How do you see the role of storytelling in the Australia-Indonesia relationship?

Stories bring people closer together. The impact of bringing our two nations closer through shared story(telling) is invaluable. I think Australians have a lot more to learn about our closest neighbour, so I see such a value in telling stories to each other.

What has the pandemic changed about the world of Arts? Has it shifted your plans/priorities?

The film industry has certainly taken a hit, with all productions being shut down! But our community is strong and made up of driven, committed individuals – it won’t be long till we are all up and running again! Personally, I haven’t slowed down as I am studying the Masters of Screen Arts at AFTRS, specialising in Directing. This has been a lifelong dream of mine, so to find myself there is thrilling.