Sydney Film Festival’s 68th edition has proved to be another bumper year for AFTRS students and alumni. AFTRS talents contributed to 33 narrative features, documentaries and shorts in the program and several of those won favour with judges and audiences alike, picking up prizes in official competition and the annual Audience Choice Awards.
I’m Wanita, directed by AFTRS alum Matthew Walker (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media Editing, 2004) was presented with one of the festival’s most prestigious accolades, the $10,00 Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary. Following Tamworth’s renegade ‘Queen of Honky Tonk’ as she heads to Nashville to record an album, the film beat twelve other shortlisted works in the category and is now Academy Award eligible. Producer Claire Lewis (Graduate Certificate in Documentary, 2011), composer Jonathan Dower (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media Screen Composition, 2004) and cinematographer Simon Cunich (Graduate Certificate in Documentary, 2014) and supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer Luke Mynott (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media in Sound, 2004) all contributed their talents to the film, which also proved popular with festivalgoers, earning second place in the Audience Awards for Documentary.
I’m Wanita was in good company in this year’s documentaries category, joined by four other alumni films, out of the winning six in the strand. These include Jane Castle’s When the Camera Stopped Rolling, Larissa Behrendt’s Araatika: Rise Up! and Ithaka, edited by Karen Johnson (Specialist Extension Course Certificate Editing, 1995).
Three out of the five films in the Audience Award Features category were also that of alumni. Wyrmwood Apocalypse, line produced by Cathy Flannery (Graduate Diploma in Producing & Screen Business, 2011, sound designed by Lachlan Harris (Graduate Diploma in Sound, 2011) and with re-recording mixing by Thom Kellar (Graduate Diploma in Sound, 2011), placed second, while opening night film, Here Out West, directed by Julie Kalceff and Lucy Gaffy, and featuring several alumni in key roles, placed third. Landing fourth place was Friends and Strangers featuring costume design by Olivia Simpson (Graduate Certificate in Costume Design, 2013) and sound design by Liam Egan (Bachelor of Arts (Film & Television) Sound, 1986).
This edition also saw the inaugural Sustainable Future Award presented to a film that deepens knowledge and awareness of the impact of the global climate emergency. Australian documentary Burning, scored by alum Thomas Rouch (Graduate Certificate: Screen Music, 2009), and taking an unflinching look at Australia’s catastrophic ‘Black Summer’ bushfires, earned the award.
The event was also cause for celebration for the four AFTRS student films selected to screen, two of which had world premieres. Screening for the first time was Master of Arts Screen capstones, Jenny Hicks’ The Stranger, and Kate Vinen’s (Master of Arts Screen, 2020) Acts for the Invisible. Ismail Khan’s 2020 Master of Arts Screen film Sunnies, and Mariella S. Solano’s Bachelor of Arts Screen: Production film Alba were also on show.
See the full list of AFTRS student and alumni films featured at SFF 2021 here.
See all the 2021 award winners and read more about this year’s edition here.
DOCUMENTARY AUSTRALIA FOUNDATION AWARD FOR AUSTRALIAN DOCUMENTARY
2021 Winner – I’m Wanita
Director: Matthew Walker (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media Editing, 2004)
Producer: Claire Lewis (Graduate Certificate in Documentary, 2011)
Composer: Jonathan Dower (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media Screen Composition, 2004)
Cinematographer: Simon Cunich (Graduate Certificate in Documentary, 2014)
Supervising sound editor and re-recording mixer: Luke Mynott (Master of Arts: Film, Television and Digital Media in Sound, 2004)
Winners of the Audience Awards – Features
Second place – Wyrmwood Apocalypse
Third place – Here Out West
Fourth place – Friends and Strangers
Winners of the Audience Awards – Documentaries
Second place – I’m Wanita
Third place – When the Camera Stopped Rolling
Tied in fifth place – Araatika: Rise Up! and Ithaka