The closing night of the Sydney Film Festival featured the highly anticipated world premiere of Neil Armfield’s Holding the Man to a sold out audience at the State Theatre. Along with the screening winners of the various competitions which had run over the course of the festival were also announced.
The Sydney Film Prize
Arabian Nights, directed by Miguel Gomes, was awarded Sydney Film Festival’s $62,000 Sydney Film Prize. The cash prize, now in its eighth year, is awarded for a film’s ‘emotional power and resonance; audaciousness, cutting-edge, courageousness; and capacity to go beyond the usual treatment of the subject matter’.
In announcing the award Jury President Liz Watts said “It is the Jury’s unanimous decision to award this year’s Sydney Film Prize to Arabian Nights Volume 1, 2, 3; directed by Miguel Gomes . Arabian Nights is a film of ambition and political vision which confronts, frustrates, and spellbinds – and ultimately reminds us that cinema continues to be a powerful vehicle to examine the human condition.”
Ambitious, indignant and filled with offbeat humour, Miguel Gomes’ extraordinary trilogy draws on the structure of Arabian Nights; to create a vivid portrait of Portugal today. Gomes was anguished by the austerity measures imposed on his homeland and commissioned journalists to gather true stories from all over the country that were then fictionalised.
Miguel Gomes accepted the award from Lapland.
For a run down of the films in the official competition see https://rochfordstreetreview.com/2015/06/03/sydney-film-festival-mark-roberts-previews-the-official-competition/
The Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary
Journalist Michael Ware and two-time Oscar winner Bill Guttentag were awarded the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, worth $10,000, for Only the Dead, with a special mention going to The Lost Aviator directed by Andrew Lancaster.
DAF Award for Australian Documentary Jury Member Dr Mitzi Goldman said “This year’s films are again a very strong collection of 10 documentaries. We have seen stories about refugees in Australia, animal welfare, indigenous culture and family and cultural history, each one with great strengths in very different style….After much deliberation however the DAF award goes to Only the Dead, a deeply confronting and controversial film. It raises many uncomfortable issues that present a story resulting from embedded journalism following the invasion of Iraq.”
“The extraordinary raw footage in this film, of the kind so often used to sensationalise, shock and recruit in other contexts, is here given authentic power by being tied to a diary in which the narrator, struggling with trauma, reveals how daily conflict can confound understanding and analysis.”
“The result is a film that complicates our engagement with the war by offering an extremely personal point of view, emotionally dragging us through the horrors of violence and implicating us in the messy narrative of war and death. The storyteller, embedded with US troops, inhabits a zone of physical and moral conflict that, while constituting a strong anti-war testimony, also treads the blurred line between winners and losers, heroes and cowards, us and them,”
The jury made special mention of The Lost Aviator, “a finely crafted documentary that blends sensitive family history with an inquisitive and bold account of a dramatic and tragic story. The film displays great storytelling skill, beautiful production values and mastery over its narrative”.
The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films
The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films were awarded to:
- Dendy Live Action Short Award. A Single Body directed and written by Sotiris Dounoukos.
- Yoram Gross Animation Award: Grace Under Water directed and produced by Anthony Lawrence
- Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director: Brooke Goldfinch for Red Rover with a special mention to Ryan Griffen for You Turn.
The 2015 Jury for the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Film was comprised of Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas; Australian producer Greer Simpkin; and Palestinian filmmaker Suha Arraf.
In a joint statement the Dendy Jury said: “Amongst the varied style of films it was extremely difficult to choose one that stood out for the Dendy Live Action Short Award. ….. we chose the film which took us to a real world, made us believe in the human story being told. The insight to these people’s lives created a world and situation which was complete and had great emotional resonance.”
“The film the jury has chosen for the Yoram Gross Animation Award has an eerily human quality with touching, complex and unresolved relationships. Incorporating an original technique, this film created a unique cinematic experience,”
“The jury chose a film that showcased self-assured and accomplished direction for the Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director. This film had a confidence and ambition which showed great promise”.
Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award
The 2015 Dendy Awards for Australian Short Film 2015 Jury also judges the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award, comprising of Greek-Australian filmmaker Alex Proyas; Australian producer Greer Simpkin; and Palestinian filmmaker Suha Arraf. This award, which provides a $5000 cash prize for best short screenplay to one of the short fiction films selected for the Sydney Film Festival program, is open to all Australian short films screening in the Festival. This year the award was given to Bluey, written and directed by Darlene Johnson.
In a joint statement the jury said: “The film chosen for the Event Cinemas Australian Short Screenplay Award displayed great ability to build strong character – convincing interplay between characters and natural dialogue.”
– Mark Roberts
The 62nd Sydney Film Festival ran from 3rd to 14th June – http://www.sff.org.au/
Rochford Street Review will continue to run a series of reviews of films which screened at the Sydney Film Festival over the coming weeks.