‘The Urn’, ‘Ink Train’ win at Sony Catchlight Film Festival awards

Writer-director Ash Gray accepting the prize for best Short Fiction film for 'The Urn'.

Ash Gray’s The Urn and Olly Sindle’s documentary Ink Train were among the short films to take home prizes at the Sony Catchlight Film Festival Awards on Saturday evening.

Held in Sydney, the event also saw gongs given out for music video and student fiction, with respective winners Elsy Wameyo’s River Nile, directed by Wameyo and Leighton Bond, and Tahlia Magistrale’s Swings and Roundabouts.

The short film festival, now in its second year, received almost 100 entries from across Australia and New Zealand, with all films having used Sony systems. Judges included writer, director and comedian Tim Ferguson, director Yolanda Ramke, cinematographers Kim Batterham, Pieter de Vries and Simeon Bryan, and Sony Music Australia.

The Urn, shot on an Alpha 7S II, took home the prize for Fiction Short. A horror thriller starring Kirsty Budding, Cole Hilder and Jess Waterhouse, it follows a woman whose life changes forever when she purchases an urn from an op shop which starts interpreting her thoughts and granting her desires.

Gray, from Canberra, tells IF the key message of the film was “don’t let your negative thoughts create your reality.” She has worked as a director since 2015 but feels The Urn helped her reach the next level of her career.

“I created this film just after lockdown,” she says.

“I was hungry to be making more films and I’d been sitting on the idea.

“I love horror/thriller films that combine other genres as well; so something that is not just a straight up slasher but something with a deeper moral message.”

In addition to writing and directing, Gray produced alongside James Foulds and James Robinson. The cinematographer was Matthew Ong.

Winner of the Non-Fiction Short prize, Ink Train, was also shot on an Alpha 7S II. It sees Sindle interview Queensland commuters their tattoos and the meaning behind them. The filmmaker directed, edited, wrote and shot the film himself.

The filmmakers behind The Urn and Ink Train will get to experience a mentor day with representatives from Sony Pictures Australia.

Student Fiction prize winner, writer-director Magistrale’s Swings and Roundabouts, shot an FX6, was made as a capstone project at the University of Technology, Sydney (UTS). The coming-of-age film follows Finn and Amber (Finn Rushton and Chelsea Yarad), who have been friends their whole lives. One unassuming summer evening Finn is compelled to finally confess his feelings to her.

“The idea came from creating something that was really real between two people and portrayed their relationship, regardless of the strings attached,” Magistrale, who is currently working as a production assistant for Good Oil, tells IF.

“I wanted to observe the characters, and give a real sense of their lives.”

Producing the film was Claire Cooper-Southam, with cinematographer Christopher Wood, and editors Nathaniel Barlow and Kristo Hakola-Parry.

Music video River Nile, shot on FX6 and produced by Tape 24, follows Wameyo channeling the environment of her Kenyan homeland in the juxtaposed surroundings of South Australia.

The night also saw cinematographers from within each category recognised with equipment prizes. The cinematography laurel for student fiction went to Bomb Voyage, shot by Angus Becke-Smith; music video to Mayali – Kakadu Collective ft. Victor Rostron, shot by Toby Finlayson; non-fiction Gone With the Wing, shot by Hamish Pattison, and fiction Let Me Be, shot by Daniel Ellis.

The Sony lens work laurel went to short non-fiction film, Aimee – Life Under Water, shot by Danny Estcourt.

Runners up were also presented in each category, with short student fiction going to Nature Therapy; music video Somehow – Jenny Mitchell, non-fiction Black Moon and short fiction to Laundry.

All films to receive a nomination for the Sony Catchlight Film Festival this year are available to watch online here.