One of the best things about film festivals is the exposure they provide. Immersed in a sea of film, we often find ourselves encountering a passionate new director, or left breathless by a foreign work, the name of which we’ve never heard before. There are dual pleasures in these findings: not only are we seeing something wonderful for the first time, but there’s also a secret thrill of discovery; of feeling like the first one to unearth a hidden gem. Along with that joy, however, come risks, and Burke And Wills, the debut feature from Australian director Matthew Zeremes, is a sad reminder of that fact.

Clocking in at short 75 minutes, Zeremes’ film tells the story, not surprisingly, of Burke and Wills, who meet as the movie begins (and share their names with a pair of doomed Australian explorers), when Wills takes a room in Burke’s house. Wills, who just turned 30, is an awkwardly winning bundle of nervous energy, though most of that energy is expended through chatter rather than movement. He’s unemployed, and has a long-term girlfriend whose mother -- calling Wills “a leech” -- has just kicked him out of her house. Wills’ most appealing trait is his jittery warmth. He seems to care very little how people respond to him, as long as they let him take up space nearby, and listen to him talk. Through his early, drunken verbal essays, we learn that Wills would like to be someone -- and somewhere -- else, though whether he’s got the energy or motivation to make his desires a reality is another thing entirely. He’s not, however, unhappy, just a bit wistful. After all, he thinks: Who wouldn’t want to be Spanish?