‘The Australian Dream’ wins MIFF audience award

'The Australian Dream'.

‘The Australian Dream’.

This year’s Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) opener – director Daniel Gordon’s The Australian Dream – has proved an audience favourite, winning the Audience Award for Best Documentary Feature.

The film, which was also nominated for an AACTA Award earlier this week, explores race, identity and belonging from the perspective of former Sydney Swans captain and Australian of the Year, Adam Goodes. Written by Stan Grant, it opened at MIFF to a seven minute standing ovation.

The winner of the Best Narrative Feature went to Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire, which depicts a romance between a painter and her subject. It won Best Screenplay and the Queer Palm in Cannes earlier this year.

John Sheedy’s debut feature H is For Happiness, which stars Daisy Axon, Wesley Patten,, Richard Roxburgh, Emma Booth, Miriam Margolyes, Joel Jackson and Deborah Mailman, was the runner up in the narrative awards. Other Australian films in the top 10 include Rodd Rathjen’s Buoyancy, Paul Barakat’s Kairos, and Ben Lawrence’s Hearts and Bones. 

Among the other Australian docos to rank well with audiences were Hylton Shaw and Samantha Dinning’s No Time for Quiet, Selina Miles’ Martha: A Picture Story, Josh Cable and Marcus Cobbledick’s Collingwood: From the Inside Out and Maya Newell’s In My Blood It Runs (which was also nominated for an AACTA this week).

“The people have spoken! Massive congratulations to the lauded crowd-pleasers of MIFF 2019,” said MIFF artistic director, Al Cossar.

“We are so pleased in particular to see so many stories from Australia and the South Pacific in this list resonating with MIFF-goers this year – our particular congratulations go to the whole team behind MIFF Opening Night film The Australian Dream as our Documentary Audience Award Winner – an urgent, accomplished film, a landmark documentary that has really made a mark here at the festival, and I’m sure will continue from success to success.”

Overall, more than 41,100 votes were registered for the audience awards. This year’s MIFF was the biggest iteration of the event so far, with some 263 feature films, 123 shorts and 16 virtual reality experiences screened.

The full list:

1. The Australian Dream (Australia/UK) – dir. Daniel Gordon
2. Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen (NZ) – dir. Heperi Mita
3. For My Father’s Kingdom (NZ) – dir. Vea Mafile’o
4. For Sama (Syria / UK) – dir. Edward Watts, Waleed al-Kateab
4. No Time for Quiet (Aus) – dir. Hylton Shaw, Samantha Dinning
6. Martha: A Picture Story (Aus / USA) – dir. Selina Miles
7. Collingwood: From the Inside Out (Aus) – dir. Josh Cable, Marcus Cobbledick
8. In My Blood It Runs (Aus) – dir. Maya Newell
9. Seahorse (UK / Spain) – dir. Jeanie Finlay
10. 5B (USA) – dir. Dan Krauss, Paul Haggis

1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France) – dir. Céline Sciamma
2. H is for Happiness (Aus) – dir. John Sheedy
3. Vai (NZ) – dir. Amberley Jo Aumua, Becs Arahanga, Dianna Fuemana, Marina Alofagia McCartney, Matasila Freshwater, Mirria George, Nicole Whippy, Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki
4. Bellbird (NZ) – dir. Hamish Bennett
5. Buoyancy (Aus) – dir. Rodd Rathjen
6. Kairos (Aus) – dir. Paul Barakat
7. And Then We Danced (France/Georgia/Sweden) – dir. Levan Akin
8. La Flor (Argentina) – dir. Mariano Llinás
8. Adam (France / Morocco) – dir. Maryam Touzani
8. Hearts and Bones (Aus) – dir. Ben Lawrence