16 September 2021

AFF Youth has announced the winners of the inaugural Statewide Schools Filmmaking Competition and the winners in the Best Film categories from the main AFF Youth screening program of international Australian and international features, short films and documentaries.

At a Red Carpet Gala presentation, four prizes were awarded in the Statewide Schools Filmmaking Competition, judged by a panel of Australian screen and communications professionals – reviewer for The Big Issue and Radio Adelaide Aimee Knight; producer Kieran Altman whose film Shiva Baby screened at the 2020 Adelaide Film Festival; writer, director and producer Anthony Frith (Lessons from a Middle Class Artist); Dean of Research, UniSA Creative, Professor Craig Batty; and Kate Wise, Enterprise Communication Consultant, SA Power Networks.

The Best South Australian Primary School Film (Cash Prize $500) award was presented to Caitlin Vass, a student at Pembroke School, for Animal Therapy: How Animals Affect Mental Health, which the judges noted was a well-researched and engaging science documentary on the mental health benefits of animals.  In awarding the prize, the Jury said the film was “beautifully told, and very timely in the current climate”.

The Best South Australian Middle School Film (Cash Prize $500) award was presented to the Mimili Anangu School for their collective effort Learning on Country. In awarding the prize, the judges said: “This wonderful work full of beautiful imagery is a loving and insightful look at the remote community of Anangu. It takes a simple act – cooking and eating – and turns it into a rich, visceral experience.”

The University of South Australia and Rising Sun Pictures Best High School Film (Cash Prize: $1000) was presented to Bailey Lock, a student at Prince Alfred College, for his film Kleptomania in which a young adolescent reflects on the consequences of living with kleptomania. The judges said: “A stark yet entertaining film, well-crafted and full of verve, tackling a confronting but real issue. The personal perspective is very compelling.”

The SA Power Networks People’s Choice Award (Cash prize: $1,000) for the audience favourite film created by South Australian students (available to high, middle or primary school) went to Tammy Ha, from Glenunga International High, for First World Problems, a sweet homage to Chaplin which packs a punch. All Statewide Schools Filmmaking Competition films screened on the AFF Youth Filmmaking platform and hundreds of people from across the State voted.


The film prizes in the AFF Youth main program were voted on by AFF’s Youth Jury, a group of eight young South Australians drawn from Adelaide and across the regions.   The on-line screening program comprised more than 60 international and Australian films, including 28 Australian and three World Premieres.

The Youth Jury awarded prizes in the following categories:

Films by professional filmmakers:

Best Overall Film 2021 and Best Film for 16+ was awarded to the Canadian film Beans, from director Tracey Deer. Based on true events, this radical coming-of-age story remembers the 1990s Oka Crisis through children’s eyes. Sweet, obedient Tekehentahkhwa (Kiawenti:io Tarbell, Anne with an E) – nicknamed ‘Beans’ for the ease of her white peers – is a Mohawk girl standing at the cliff face of adolescence. When a land rights dispute divides her small hometown, Beans is inspired by her First Nations family, fighting to protect a pine forest from profane redevelopment.

Summertime received a Special Commendation from the Youth Jury in the Best Overall Film 2021 category. Directed by Carlos López Estrada, this US film is set over one oppressive summer’s day in LA, where the lives of 25 young people intersect like cracks in concrete.

Best Film for 5–12-year-olds was awarded to Raise the Bar, a documentary from Iceland, directed by Guðjón Ragnarsson, about a basketball team of 8 – 13-year-old girls and their unconventional coach, who raised the bar both on and off the court.

Best Film for 13–15-year-olds was awarded to the Australian short film Rebooted, directed by Michael Shanks.

Films by young people (the films in this category were aged 5 – 18 years):

Best Film by an Australian young filmmakerSymmetry, directed by Rob Plaza

Best Film by an International young filmmakerDaughters, by US director Roxy Morris


Congratulations to all of the winners announced this evening, but also to every single young filmmaker who submitted a film to the Statewide Schools Filmmaking Competition. AFF Youth set out to program bold and original storytelling encouraging young people to embrace a diverse and complex world where they can make a courageous contribution.  Our program delivered on this ambition, including the films made by South Australian youth themselves, revealing that we have an incredible pool of emerging screen talent in our State,” said Mat Kesting, AFF CEO & Creative Director.

“Congratulations to Tammy Ha on winning the SA Power Networks People’s Choice Award. First World Problems clearly connected with audiences through the power of Tammy’s storytelling, and we are excited to see how she will develop in the future,” said Kylie Kerrigan, Sponsorship Manager for SA Power Networks.


“We are proud to empower the next generation of film makers and creatives through the platform and inspiration provided by AFF Youth, as well as support an increasingly important industry for our State.”

AFF Youth is the newest and youngest arm of the acclaimed Adelaide Film Festival. Supported by the Department for Education, the Department for Innovation and Skills and SA Power Networks, AFF Youth has been developed especially for South Australian school students.