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SFF Winners: The AFTRS Craft Award Recipients and a Major Prize for Alum Caitlin Yeo

Inaugural AFTRS Craft Award winners

After 12 days of world premieres, red carpets, Q&As, panels and parties—plus the screening of 26 titles by AFTRS staff, students and alumni—Sydney Film Festival’s 69th edition has wrapped with the highly anticipated Closing Night Gala. Among the prestigious prizes awarded on the night was the inaugural AFTRS Craft Award.

AFTRS CEO Dr. Nell Greenwood presented the AFTRS Craft Award to the eight character artists of the animated short film, Donkey: Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM, Carolyn Kenta, Imuna Kenta, Elizabeth Dunn, Stacia Yvonne Lewis, Atipalku Intjalki, Lynette Lewis and Cynthia Burke. Introduced as part of the Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films, the $7,000 prize recognises demonstrated excellence by a craft practitioner in an Australian short film. In Donkey, directed by Jonathan Daw and Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM, three Anangu women of different generations tell the story of how donkeys came to be valuable friends and helpers in the desert communities in the APY lands of northern South Australia.

Donkey also received the $7,000 Yoram Gross Award for best animation.

AFTRS alum, the acclaimed musician and film composer Caitlin Yeo (Graduate Diploma in Screen Composition, 2002) was awarded the $10,000 Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award, which recognises a trailblazing NSW-based screen practitioner whose work stands for innovation and high impact. After a reel of her work, which reflected fondly on her time at AFTRS, Caitlin Yeo took to the stage to accept her prize.

“I would like to thank all the amazing filmmakers I have worked with in my career for sharing a desire to push the boundaries of what music can do, how it is created, and its poetic ability to illuminate vision. We are all allies together, and of course, my music would not exist if it were not for the remarkable Australian stories I have had the privilege to compose for,” said Yeo.

The first composer to receive the award, Yeo will also undertake a residence at Charlie’s in LA, the hub opened by Australians in Film. In Yeo’s prolific, multi-award-winning career she has lent her talents to titles including After the Apology, Danger Close: The Battle of Long Tan, Playing with Sharks: The Valerie Taylor Story, Standing up for Sunny, Wakefield, New Gold Mountain, I Want to Make a Film About Women and more.

Caitlin Yeo

The $7,000, Academy-Award eligible Dendy Live Action Short Award as well as the Rouben Mamoulian Award for best direction went to Luisa Martiri and Tanya Modini’s The Moths Will Eat Them Up., which featured the work of AFTRS alum cinematographer Julian Panetta (Graduate Certificate Screen: Cinematography, 2018).

The Official Competition jury members for 2022 were Jury President, actor/director David Wenham, BAFTA-nominated writer and director—and AFTRS alum—Jennifer Peedom, writer-director-producer Mostofa Sarwar Farooki (Bangladesh), Berlin Golden Bear-winning writer-director-producer Semih Kaplanoğlu (Turkey), and the Executive Director of the Kawakita Memorial Film Institute, Tokyo, Yuka Sakano (Japan). The Jury named Lukas Dhont’s Close (Belgium) as the winner of the $60,000 Sydney Film Prize.

Other awards presented on the night included the Documentary Australia Award to Luke Cornish’s Keep Stepping, Sustainable Future Award to Karl Malakunas’ Delikado, and Deutsche Bank Fellowship for First Nations Film Creatives to Kylie Bracknell. Read more about the 2022 SFF awards here.

The winners of the SFF Audience Awards have also come in, and Evicted! A Modern Romance, written and directed by AFTRS alum Rowan Deveraux (Graduate Certificate in Screenwriting Fundamentals, 2013)—and with a crew mostly consisting of AFTRS graduates—has been voted winner of the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature. The comedy will screen again in an encore By Popular Demand session alongside other audience favourites from this year’s edition.

Cast and crew of ‘Evicted! A Modern Romance’

Runners up for the Audience Award for Best Narrative Feature include Macario De Souza’s 6 Festivals, produced by Shannon Wilson-McClinton (Graduate Diploma in Screen Business, 2010; Graduate Certificate in Screen Business, 2009), written by Lou Sanz (Master of Arts (Film and Television) Scriptwriting, 2002) and lensed by Hugh Miller (Master of Arts (Film & Television) Cinematography, 2002) in second place, along with Sundance hit Sissy, produced by Lisa Shaunessy (Graduate Diploma in Screen Business, 2011), lensed by Steve Arnold (Diploma Cinematography, 1978), and showcasing the work of production designer Michael Price (Graduate Diploma in Production Design, 2012) and storyboard artist Blake Fraser (Graduate Diploma in Directing (Fiction & Non-Fiction), 2011) in fourth place.

This year, SFF featured an impressive lineup of AFTRS talent, including two Master of Arts Screen student films—Ruby Challenger’s MumLife, making its Australian debut after a world premiere in La Cinef at Cannes, and Jayden Rathsam Hüa’s Sushi Noh—and 24 titles featuring the work of AFTRS alumni, of which 15 were world premieres and seven were Australian debuts. See our roundup of all the staff, student and alumni titles at the festival here.


Close, directed by Lukas Dhont

Keep Stepping, directed by Luke Cornish


Dendy Live Action Short Award
The Moths Will Eat Them Up, directed by Luisa Martiri and Tanya Modini

Rouben Mamoulian Award
The Moths Will Eat Them Up, directed by Luisa Martiri and Tanya Modini

Yoram Gross Animation Award
Donkey, directed by Jonathan Daw and Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM

Donkey, directed by Jonathan Daw and Tjunkaya Tapaya OAM

Actress, Kylie Bracknell

Musician and film composer, Caitlin Yeo

Delikado, directed by Karl Malakunas.