A heart-warming exploration of photographer Tawfik Elgazzar’s community art project, Flash Hub, which provides free portraits for locals and passers-by in Sydney’s Inner West. The film celebrates individuality, cultural diversity and the joy of a photographer seeing his subjects smile.


  • Harriet McKern: Director, Backwards Showgirl Variation, A Once Smiling Woman, Lipstick
  • Harriet McKern: Writer, Backwards Showgirl Variation, A Once Smiling Woman, Lipstick
  • Harriet McKern: Producer, Backwards Showgirl Variation, A Once Smiling Woman, Lipstick
  • Fran Tinley: Producer, Welcome To Kandos, Who Killed Belinda Peisley, The Mosque Next Door
  • Tawfik Elgazzar: Key Cast
  • Remy Varga: Co-Director
  • Ivan Lipanovic: Director of Photography, Backwards Showgirl Variation, The Exchange (post production),
  • Paulo Mousicci: Director of Photography, Quite Frankly, Navigating the Net
  • William Wong: Editor, Beauticate
  • Alicia Slusarski: Sound Designer, Ali’s Wedding, Hotel Mumbai, Mad Max: Fury Road, Lipstick, Loyal To My Image
  • Abe Dunovits: Composer, El Nino
  • David White: Sound Mixer, Mad Max: Fury Road, Mountain, Blue, The Railway Man,


  • Project Type: Documentary, Short
  • Genres: Art Documentary
  • Runtime: 8 minutes 50 seconds
  • Completion Date: January 4, 2019
  • Production Budget: 4,500 AUD
  • Country of Origin: Australia
  • Country of Filming: Australia
  • Language: English
  • Shooting Format: Digital (DSLR)
  • Aspect Ratio: 16:9
  • Film Color: Black & White

Screenings / Awards

  • The Real Film Festival Newcastle
    October 28, 2018
    World (work in progress mix)
  • Catalyst Film Festival Hanley
    United Kingdom
    March 29, 2019
    United Kingdom
  • Indie Visions Virginia
    United States
    March 31, 2019
    North American Premiere
    Winner: Documentary Short
  • VMC Melbourne
    May 23, 2019
    Victorian State
  • Palm Springs Shortfest 19 Palm Springs
    United States
    June 22, 2019
  • St Kilda Film Festival Melbourne
    June 23, 2019
  • Melbourne Documentary Film Festival Melbourne
    July 20, 2019
  • Portobello Road Film Festival London
    United Kingdom
    September 8, 2019
    London premiere
  • Fifteen Minute Film Festival Wheeling, WV
    United States
    Judges Award
  • Australian Inspirational Film Festival Perth
    March 22, 2019
    WA Premiere

Distribution Information

  • Beamafilm non-exclusive/ Contact Harriet McKern for distribution ueries Country: Worldwide
    Rights: Internet, Video on Demand, Pay Per View

Director Statement

I first met Tawfik when I was in front of his camera at Tortuga Studios during the festival ‘Open Marrickville’ in 2013. My friend (& co-producer) Fran Tinley said come down, there is this photographer and you can get your photo taken. I stood there determined to be serious r should I say interesting, (resenting the way as I saw it that women were always meant to smile and look invitingly pleasant in portraits whereas men could be insular and ruggedly self determined.) Anyway my arch stoney-face lasted about forty five seconds and Tawfik had me cracking up straight away. They turned out to be a beautiful set of photos, which profoundly helped me accept my age and ditch the fifteen year old head shot I had been using religiously.

On seeing many of the other beautiful shots taken as part of the same project Flash Hub as well as the ease with which Tawfik worked with people and thata photography had been my first love, I wanted to make this film.

As I found out more about the community photographic project I was really drawn to its inclusivity, fun, generosity, cultural diversity and localness. I also appreciated the photos as jaw droppingly amazing aesthetically, of a quality I would expect to see in a top gallery. The use of contrasty black and white and the flash/ light called a ‘beauty dish’ often used in fashion photography give the images their unique look. How could a quirky free community pop up stall make you so appreciate the beauty of people?

When I then met with Tawfik in a local Newtown coffee shop to talk about making the film, he was very humble and open. As I got to know him he talked about being inspired by JR’s photography and how he believes ‘giving to others is the key to personal happiness’. It took quite a while to finish the film and we did it in the end with the help of a small crowd finding campaign but I am so glad we did. For me ‘Smile’ documents an artist and a project that are the real deal – BEAUTIFUL from the outside in.

Harriet McKern