A Greek drama has won Sydney Film Festival’s top prize, beating out eleven other films including two Australian productions, as a film about a director’s method for dealing with a relationship break-up won him best Australian documentary.
Alps, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, and co-written by Lanthimos and Efthymis Filippou, has won the SFF Official Competition prize, worth $60,000.
Two Australian films were in the running; Dead Europe directed by Tony Krawitz, and Lore directed by Cate Shortland.
Rachel Ward, the festival’s jury chair said: “Following a secret club whose members are paid to act as replacements for the recently deceased, Alps melds pathos, black humour and taut menace in a film that is at once challenging and highly rewarding. A finely calibrated, absurdist study of power and identity, Alps is intelligent, uniquely emotive filmmaking from an important new voice in Greek cinema.”
Lanthimos said from Greece: “”I never expected such a nice wakeup call today. We are all extremely happy. I want to thank the Jury and the Festival and once again all the people who made the film possible.”
Also In Competition was Beasts of the Southern Wild by Benh Zeitlin, Caeser Must Die by directors Paolo and Vittorio Taviani, The King of Pigs by Yuen Sang-ho, Monsieur Lazhar by Philippe Falardeau, Neighbouring Sounds by Kleber Mendonça Filho, On the Road by Walter Salles, Tabu by Miguel Gomes and Today by Alain Gomis.
Director Paul Gallasch won the Foxtel Australian Documentary Prize and $10,000 for his film Killing Anna. The documentary follows the director as he deals with a break-up from his ex-girlfriend Anna by holding a funeral for her, despite her being alive.
A comment from the documentary prize Jury said: “Killing Anna has an impact out of proportion to its length. With an impressive economy of means, the director has crafted a film of great emotional resonance – distinctive, funny, and full of character. The filmmaker courageously exposes his own emotional journey to deliver a universal message about romantic loss.”
A short film that represented Australia recently at Cannes won Dendy’s Live Action Short Award and the $5000 prize. Yardbird, directed by Michael Spiccia, written by Julius Avery and produced by Jessica Mitchell is the story of a young teenage girl who takes matters into her own hands when a trio of teens terrorise her father’s car junkyard.
Mirrah Foulkes, writer and director of Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke won the Rouben Mamoulian Award for best direction and $5000.
In the Yoram Gross Animation Award, The Maker, about a creature who must race against time to create the next incarnation of its kind was written and directed by Christopher Kezelos.