Mx. Anna Helme is a moving image maker, technologist, interdisciplinary artist and academic based in Melbourne, Australia.
In 2005 Anna co-founded the highly successful Asia-Pacific non-profit organisation EngageMedia www.engagemedia.org, focusing on social-justice and environmental video, training, network-development, digital rights and open-source technology within the region. Anna worked extensively internationally for EngageMedia during start-up as a co-director and later as a consultant through until 2021, including co-organising Transmission video-activist conferences in Rome in 2006 and Java in 2008, working with film festivals such as Freedom Film Festival in Kuala Lumpur, and taking part in the Open Video Alliance founding meeting at Yale University in 2008. Anna completed a Myer Foundation Asialink Dunlop Asia Fellowship in Indonesia in 2007, training filmmakers in online distribution, which lead to EngageMedia establishing offices in Indonesia (and later working with staff based in Philippines, Myanmar, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia and Singapore).
Anna’s work with EngageMedia also included project-managing two successful open-source video-sharing web applications: the Plone based Plumi package which supported many video communities from 2006 through to 2019, and in 2020 in collaboration with Greek devleopers Wordgames, the Django-based MediaCMS project. Anna also project managed development of Critical Commons (www.criticalcommons.org), an online film education resource and fair use advocacy project, produced by the Institute for Multimedia Literacy at the University of Souttheirn California School of Cinematic Arts from 2009 through to 2016. Anna began in this field working with early internet streaming channel PirateTV and influential UK-based production company Undercurrents in 1999, and curating three editions of regional video compilation Oceania Indymedia Newsreal, a precursor to EngageMedia’s work in the Asia-Pacific, from 2003.
Anna has co-directed, shot and edited documentaries including Cultural Flows, in collaboration with indigenous nations on the Murray Darling and Friends of the Earth, currently broadcast on NITV and Aquaporko!, winner of the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Sydney’s Mardi Gras Film Festival, and was a director, writer and producer on Nothing to Lose the documentary about Force Majeure’s dance work for Sydney Festival.
Anna has written and directed short films including the hybrid sci-fi documentary MyMy (2014, 14 mins) screening at festivals internationally including Outfest Los Angeles, Frameline San Francisco, BFI Flare London, Queer Streifen (Winner, Best Short) and Continental Drift (2012, 15mins) part of the Accelerator program at the Melbourne International Film Festival, was nominated for St Kilda Film Festival’s SBS Award and broadcast nationally on SBS TV’s Shorts on Screen. M.C. G.F.C. (2009, 4mins) screened opening night at the 2010 Melbourne Underground Film Festival and the Glasgow Centre for Contemporary Art in 2009, and (with artist Arlene Textaqueen) “SNAP!” for the ACMI/SBS co-production ARTV, screened on SBS TV in 2005, and featured in the Australian Culture Now exhibition at ACMI and the NGV. Trained in camera, lighting and sound while working at SBS TV in the mid 1990s, in 2013 Anna completed Honours in Fine Arts (Film and Television) as a mature-age student at the VCA (1st Class Hons), for which they received a Lionel Gell Scholarship, a Friends of the VCA award and an Ian Potter Cultural Trust grant.
Anna’s video installation work includes collaborative installations Mother’s Not Herself Today (single-channel video, 2015, Underbelly Arts at Cockatoo Island, f-generation exhibition at George Paton Gallery, MIX New York Queer Experimental Film Festival 2015), and MyMy RADIX (Nightcraft: MCA Art Bar 2014, MIX NYC 2014). As a live audiovisual artist Anna has performed in Australia, the UK and Europe, including the PirateTV CanDU Tour of the former-Yugoslavia, with Coldcut and Headspace in 2001. Anna co-wrote, co-directed, and performed the hybrid audiovisual theatre show Electric Dreams commissioned for Nextwave 2004, supported by Arts Victoria, and performed solo and with Sean Healy as Spoole at venues and events such as Brisbane Powerhouse, Federation Square Melbourne, Electrofringe and dLux’s Dataterra. In 2002 Anna undertook an Australia Council supported artist placement with Coldcut assisting with interactive video installation Gridio for the Sonic Process exhibition at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
Anna curates moving image programs that explore unexpected territories of queer film for festivals such as the Bangalore Queer Film Festival in India (2010, 2012), Camp Betty festivals in Australia (2007, 2011) and recently founding the Wildings sidebar of experimental moving image culture for the Melbourne Queer Film Festival (2017, 2019).
Anna has facilitated filmmaking workshops for organisations such as Tilde Transgender and Gender Diverse Film Festival, Australian Centre for the Moving Image and Youthworx Media.
Anna is currently a Lecturer in Film and Television at the University of Melbourne and is completing their doctoral research into queer moving image making at the VCA, Faculty of Fine Arts and Music, University of Melbourne.