Kamila Andini. 

There’s an Australian connection among each of the competition winning films at this year’s Adelaide Film Festival.

The prizes for the best fiction feature, documentary and VR films were presented yesterday evening at the festival, ahead of the Australian premiere of Felix Van Groeningen’s Beautiful Boy. 

Indonesian writer-director Kamila Andini’s The Seen and Unseen, a co-production between Indonesia, the Netherlands, Australia and Qatar, took out the $20,000 prize for International Feature Fiction Competition. Set in Bali, the film follows a young girl who seeks out imaginative ways to cope with the death of her twin brother, and it has also won 2017 Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Youth Feature and the Crystal Bear in Berlin.

The award was presented by director Scott Hicks, on behalf of the International Jury, which also comprised of Paolo Bertolin, filmmaker and selector for Venice and selection committee for Cannes Directors Fortnight, and Sarah Perks writer, curator, film producer and Artistic Director of HOME in Manchester.

Of the film, the jury said: “Within the huge diversity of cinematic offerings in the University of South Australia Feature Fiction Competition, from great maestros of cinema through to first time directors, we the Jury decided to follow the spirit of the ADL Film Fest in supporting new talents that challenge viewers outside of their comfort zone.

“So we have awarded a filmmaker who invites us on a cinematic journey to a land that is both a geographical location and a space of the mind. A land that is so near and familiar to many, and yet still so unseen in terms of the riches of its culture and traditions. A landscape of feelings and emotions that are deeply human and universal in which the director mesmerizes us with culturally specific performances and mysticism.”

Andini beat out her father Garin Nugroho’s film Memories of My Body, as well The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Roma, Beautiful Boy, Emu Runner, Celeste, Burning, Capharnaüm and Girl.

The Flinders University Feature Documentary Competition, with a cash prize of $10,000, went to Island of the Hungry Ghosts, an Australian, UK and German co-production directed by Gabrielle Brady, accepted on the night by EP Sarah Perks.

The Jury also gave a Special Mention to the daring documentary and animation hybrid Chris the Swiss. The winner was determined by the all-female jury of filmmakers: lawyer, writer and filmmaker and Larissa Behrendt (After the Apology), Tania Nehme (Tanna, Ten Canoes) and Madeleine Parry (Nanette).

The Jury said “Island of Hungry Ghosts is a poignant, poetic film that seeks to awaken the humanity of the audience. This courageous film is lyrical and layered, creating a cinematic experience that is deeply atmospheric and awakens the gravity of an important national issue.

Chris the Swiss uses a bold, hybrid cinematic style that engages the audience in a complex area with compassion and a critical eye. It leads the audience into a personal story that raises universal questions that have no easy answers.”

The eight other films in the documentary competition included AméricaThe CleanersThe Eyes of Orsen Wells, Ex Sharman, LGeneration Wealth, Happy Sad Man,  Putin’s WitnessesWaldon.

The winner of the 2018 AFTRS Virtual Reality Competition was Australia’s The Unknown Patient, is a real time interactive VR directed by Michael Beets which premiered in Venice. It is based on the true story of a soldier in a Sydney mental institution who was of unknown identity for twelve years.

The award was presented by the VR jury, made up of Sue Austin, AFTRS Head of Cinematography Kim Batterham and Google Creative Lab’s Mathew Tizard. The 10 cutting edge titles of the year in the running included 4 Australian Premieres direct from Venice – Borderline (Israel), Kobold (Germany), Rooms (Germany), The Unknown Patient (Australia), alongside Australian works Carriberrie and Parragirls Past, Present and Dinner Party (United States), The Real Thing (France), The Whale (South Korea) and Your Spiritual Temple Sucks (Taiwan).

In addition, the South Australian Film Corporation presented the inaugural Lottie Lyell Award to Shalom Almond for her multi-platform project Through Prisoner Eyes. The new award, commemorates Lottie Lyell’s trail-blazing impact on the industry, 100 years after she and Raymond Longford established South Australia’s first production company, and is for an innovative female screen practitioner, based in South Australia.

Through Prisoner Eyes is a program via which a small group of women prisoners will learn photography as a way to tell their stories of life on the inside and beyond. In addition to running the program, Shalom will film the process for a documentary.

Almond, accepting the prize from Gillian Armstrong, said: “I feel so honoured to become the first recipient of the SAFC Lottie Lyell Award – not only to carry on her legacy to create bold and ambitious screen work in South Australia, but to be given the opportunity to develop a documentary project with our state’s most vulnerable and disempowered women to give them a positive voice.”

Judging submissions and deciding the inaugural winner in 2018 were SAFC Chief Executive Officer Courtney Gibson and Adelaide Film Festival CEO/Artistic Director Amanda Duthie, joined by acclaimed filmmaker Gillian Armstrong (My Brilliant Career, Starstruck).

The Adelaide Film Festival’s Don Dunstan Award – which celebrates outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry – was also presented over the weekend to to Australian screen pioneer Freda Glynn, co-founder of the Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association (CAAMA) and Imparja TV. The award was handed ahead of the premiere of She Who Must Be Loved, a documentary of her produced by her daughter Erica Glynn and granddaughter Tanith Glynn Maloney, and directed by Erica.

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