Kamila Andini’s magical Bali-set feature fiction film The Seen and Unseen, feature documentary from Christmas Island Island of the Hungry Ghosts and Australian real time interactive VR The Unknown Patient are the big winners of the ADL Film Fest competitions in 2018, in what is a very strong showing for Australia in the international competitions. Together with the inaugural winner of the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC) Lottie Lyell award presented by Gillian Armstrong to Shalom Almond for the development of the project Through Prisoner Eyes, the winners walk away with a total prize pool of $50,000.
The Awards ceremony took place at the festival’s buzzing GU Filmhouse home, ahead of the Australian Premiere of Beautiful Boy starring Timothée Chalamet and Steve Carell and written by Australia’s Luke Davies (Lion). In attendance were all three of the festival’s film juries, Australian Director Gillian Armstrong, ADL Film Fest director Amanda Duthie and CEO of the SAFC Courtney Gibson.
Australia’s most dynamic film festival, the ADL Film Fest was the first in Australia to launch a juried feature film competition (2006), a juried feature documentary competition (2013) and a juried VR competition (2017). The festival, now in full flight and running until Sunday 21 October, opened with the Australian Premiere ADL Film Fest FUND film Hotel Mumbai, which screened to a sellout crowd and saw the likes of Armie Hammer, Dev Patel, Tilda Cobham-Hervey and Tim Minchin walk the red carpet.
The 2018 ADL Film Fest International Feature Fiction Competition sponsored by University of South Australia School of Creative Industries, with a cash prize of $20 000, was awarded to The Seen and Unseen (Australia, Indonesia, Netherlands Qatar). Directed by Indonesian Kamila Andini, the film is a magical, and heart-rending tale set in Bali, beat tough competition including from her father Garin Nugroho whose film Memories of My Body was also in competition. The Seen and Unseen won the Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Youth Feature Film (2017) and the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale (2018). The award was presented by juror Paolo Bertolin, filmmaker and selector for Venice and selection committee for Cannes Directors Fortnight, on behalf of the International Jury, also comprised of renowned South Australian director, Emmy, Peabody and multiple AFI award-winner Scott Hicks, and Sarah Perks writer, curator, film producer and Artistic Director of HOME in Manchester where she enables the investment and presentation of films created by artists.
The International 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.”
The nine other titles in this world-class competition were, fresh from Venice Film Festival The Ballad of Buster Scruggs (Australian premiere) and Roma (Australian Premiere), Beautiful Boy (Australian Premiere), Australia’s Emu Runner (Australian Premiere) starring Wayne Blair and Celeste starring Radha Mitchell, Indonesian director Garin Nugroho’s sensual dance-filled journey Memories of My Body (Australian Premiere), and three Cannes selection titles – masterful psychological drama Burning by Korea’s top auteur, Lee Chang-dong, Nadine Labaki’s Cannes Jury Prize winner Capharnaüm and Lukas Dhont’s Un Certain Regard Camera D’Or, Queer Palm and Best Performance winner Girl.
The Flinders University Feature Documentary Competition, with a cash prize of $10 000, went to Island of the Hungry Ghosts, an Australian/UK/Germany co-production directed by Gabrielle Brady, and the award was received on the night by Executive Producer Sarah Perks, who is on the International Jury. The Jury also gave a Special Mention to the daring documentary and animation hybrid Chris the Swiss (Finland, Switzerland, Germany, Croatia). The winner was determined by the all female, all award-winning Jury of filmmakers: lawyer, writer and filmmaker and Larissa Behrendt (After the Apology), multi-award winning editor Tania Nehme (Oscar nominated Tanna, Ten Canoes) and award-winning writer, producer and director Madeleine Parry (Nanette).
The Jury said “Island of the 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 Feature Documentary Competition all premiered at the world’s leading film and documentary festivals: Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s América (CPH:DOX), Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s The Cleaners (Sundance), Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orsen Wells (Cannes), Luiz Bolognesi’s Ex Sharman (EX-PAJÉ)(Berlin), Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth (SXSW), Genevieve Bailey’s Happy Sad Man (MIFF), Vitaly Mansky’s Putin’s Witnesses (Karlovy Vary) and Daniel Zimmermann’s Waldon (Karlovy Vary).
The winner of the 2018 ADL FF AFTRS Virtual Reality Competition, Australia’s The Unknown Patient, is a real time interactive VR directed by Michael Beets. Based on the true story of a soldier in a Sydney mental institution who was of unknown identity for twelve years, The Unknown Patient had its Australian Premiere at the festival, direct from the Venice Film Festival.
The award was presented by the VR jury, consisting of industry professionals at the forefront of screen making with emerging technologies, internationally acclaimed artist and VR creative 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).
The Jury said of the winning work “The Unknown Patient revisits a story from Australian history that explores the nature of memory in ways that only VR can approach. We were impressed by the quality of the storytelling, dynamic rendering and lighting, the feeling of presence, and the use of performance capture – all of which intensify the viewer’s sense of immersion.”
The inaugural Lottie Lyell Award and prize of $20,000 was presented to Prisoners and Pups creator Shalom Almond, to develop her bold new multi-faceted, multi-platform project, Through Prisoner Eyes. This new award was launched to commemorate 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 a female screen practitioner, based in South Australia, who is as innovative in our time as Lottie was in hers.
Through Prisoner Eyes is an Australian first program in 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.
Shalom Almond 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 ADL Film Fest’s Don Dunstan Award was presented to Australian screen pioneer Freda Glynn AM and her family at a moving presentation ahead of the sold-out World Premiere of She Who Must Be Loved, the documentary of her incredible life story produced by her daughter Erica Glynn and granddaughter Tanith Glynn Maloney, and directed by Erica Glynn. The winner of the Don Dunstan Award is determined by the Adelaide Film Festival Board, and presented in recognition of outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry. The accompanying book paying tribute to Freda Glynn, KIN: an extraordinary Australian filmmaking family, was also launched at the event. Edited by Festival Director Amanda Duthie and published by Wakefield Press, it features contributions from people including Deborah Mailman, Bruce Pascoe and Larissa Behrendt.
Don’t miss these screenings of the winning films
The Seen and Unseen – 2.30pm Saturday 20 October, Mercury Cinema – Tickets
Chris the Swiss – 8.15pm Saturday 20 October, GU Filmhouse Adelaide – Tickets
The Unknown Patient and all VR competition films can be seen at the Jumpgate VR Lounge at GU Filmhouse until the end of the festival – Tickets