Jub Clerc’s debut feature Sweet As has become the first Australian winner of the Toronto International Film Festival’s Network for the Promotion of Asian Cinema (NETPAC) Award for best Asian feature film.
The coming-of-age story stars Shantae Barnes-Cowan as Murra, a 15-year-old Indigenous girl who is abandoned after a volatile fight with her mother, leading her to undertake a journey of self-discovery with intervention from her uncle.
A Nyul Nyul and Yawuru writer/director, Clerc penned the script with long-time collaborator Steve Rodgers, with Arenamedia’s Liz Kearney producing and Robert Connolly and Robert Patterson executive producing.
Clerc said it was an “honour” to receive the award, describing the festival as “so extraordinary” for her film.
“I can’t believe the love it has received and this award is the ganache,” she said in a video statement.
In awarding Sunday’s prize, the 2022 NETPAC jury described it as “a model road film in all aspects with great locations and a strong cast”.
“Jub Clerc’s Sweet As convincingly tells the story of an Indigenous girl on a youth-therapy bus tour — dealing with family, friendship, inspiration, and self-identity,” they said.
Also recognised on the night was Lkhagvadulam (Dulmaa) Purev-Ochir’s Snow in September, which took out the IMDbPro Short Cuts Award for Best Film, while Aziz Zoromba’s Simo and Carol Nguyen’s Nanitic were named Best Canadian Film and best film by a woman, respectively.
Elsewhere, the 2022 FIPRESCI prize went to Basil Khalil’s A Gaza Weekend, Anthony Shim’s Riceboy Sleeps received the Platform Award, Martika Ramirez Escobar’s Leonor Will Never Die won the Amplify Voices Award, and Luis De Filippis’ Something You Said Last Night was crowned as the Changemaker Award recipient.
Steven Spielberg’s The Fabelmans took home the TIFF People’s Choice Award, while Eric Appel’s Weird: The Al Yankovic Story and Hubert Davis’ Black Ice were awarded Midnight Madness and Documentary People’s Choice categories.