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AFTRS Student Films Claim Top Prizes at St Kilda Film Festival

L-R: ‘Lost Boy’, Dir. Peter Skinner; ‘Joy’, Dir. Gabriel Morrison

AFTRS student films have won four of the top prizes at the 2021 St Kilda Film Festival, Australia’s longest-running short film festival.

Lost Boy, written and directed by AFTRS Master of Arts Screen: Directing student Peter Skinner (2019), won Best Short Film.

On receiving the prize, Peter said: “It’s such an encouraging feeling to win an award like this. It takes the edge off wondering if you’re crazy in pursuing your dreams. From the day I stepped into AFTRS to make Lost Boy to looking back at it now, I feel like it’s all up there on the screen and I now know I have so much more to give.”

The Best Director Award was won by Gabriel Morrison for his film Joy, completed in Gabriel’s final year of the Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production course in 2019. Gabriel also won the Best Achievement in Screenplay for the film.

The Best Original Score Award went to Kae M Black for the film Erwin, written and directed by AFTRS Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production student Lev Libre-Jutsen in 2018.

This year, the St Kilda Film Festival selected 36 films with AFTRS student or alumni in key creative roles, with 32 of the films featured in the Festival’s central program, the Australia’s Top 100 competition. Eight of the competition films were AFTRS student productions including Peter Skinner’s Lost Boy, Xanthe Dobbie’s Elagabalus (also selected for New York’s NewFest), The Familiars, directed by AFTRS alumna Millie Malcom and produced by AFTRS Master of Arts Screen student Alexis Talbot-Smith, Naomi Fryer’s This River, Erwin (directed by Lev Libre-Jutsen), Archie Chew’s The End, The Beginning, Jeremy Nicholas’ Necktie and Gabriel Morrison’s Joy.

AFTRS Head of Directing, Rowan Woods, said: “This is a fabulous achievement from AFTRS Master of Arts Screen: Directing graduate Peter Skinner! Peter is an awesome talent who had an amazing team of AFTRS collaborators on Lost Boy. In 2021, AFTRS students have already scooped up two major prizes at Oscar-qualifying short film festivals: Pete Skinner, Best Film at St Kilda, and Naomi Fryer, Best Director at Flickerfest. And I know there are more AFTRS festival hits coming down the pipeline!”

AFTRS Head of Music, Cameron Patrick, said: “It’s so gratifying to see AFTRS graduates and composers recognised for their contributions to our craft. The future of screen music in Australia indeed looks bright!”

AFTRS Head of Screenwriting, Pieter Aquilia, said: “It is fabulous to see our focus on collaboration amongst creative teams really coming to maturity in our student work. The careful attention to screen development is really shining in the strong scripts for, and the confident execution of, these winning AFTRS films.”

Another Festival winner, the Best Achievement in Indigenous Filmmaking Award, went to The Moogai (Dir: Jon Bell, Prod: Samantha Jennings, Kristina Ceyton, Taylor Goddard, Mitchell Stanley). AFTRS alumni in key creatives roles on the film were sound designer Sam Petty (AFTRS Extension, 1991 and production designer Bethany Ryan (Graduate Diploma in Production Design, 2012).

AFTRS student films have been selected for film festivals and events around the world throughout 2021 including Flickers Roving Eye International Film Festival (Rhode Island), ImagineNATIVE Film + Arts Media Film Festival, Flickerfest International Short Film Festival, Berlin Student Film Festival, KASHISH Mumbai International Queer Film Festival, New York Independent Cinema Awards, BUFF Malmo Film Festival Sweden, Imagine Film Festival Amsterdam, Manchester Film Festival, Birranrangga Film Festival, Montreal Independent Film Festival with others to be announced.