MIFF features one of the most highly regarded short-film competitions in the Southern Hemisphere.
This year the eligible short films were competing for a total cash prize pool of $42,000, and the winners are:
RMIT University Award for Best Experimental Short Film
Director – Arash Nassiri
Producer – Eric Prigent
Though radicalism is implied in the designation – the experimental film – the reality is that non-linear film works have developed their own century-long traditions and expressions. Nassiri’s astonishing and mesmerising film, that blurs the lines between animation and the real, between science fiction and documentary, is a visually inventive exploration of what the future of the moving image might look like. In its structure and its editing, it uses the language of cartography to take us on a journey through a landscape that might be Tehran, that might be Los Angeles, or just might be a mutant metropolis born of the tensions arising from exile and belonging. In a word, stunning.
Pond5 Award for Best Documentary Short Film
Nowhere Line: Voices from Manus Island
Director/Producer – Lukas Schrank
The challenge for the filmmakers of this documentary has been to tell us a crucial story of our present political moment when we are forbidden by law to listen to the story, to see the real documentary evidence of the story. In this eloquent and inventive short film, animation and surreptitiously recorded telephone conversations with asylum seekers convey the full horror of the events on Manus Island that led to the death of an Iranian asylum seeker. In bearing witness with such authority and with such skill, this film honours the best of what is possible in the documentary form.
MIFF Award for Best Animation Short Film
We Can't Live Without Cosmos
Director – Konstantin Bronzit
Producers – Alexander Boyarsky, Sergey Selyanov
For good reasons, the technically inventive is often lauded when it comes to judging all forms of cinema, but this wondrous animated short reminds us the craft of storytelling is often key to our joy in experiencing film. The animation is simple and naïve, the story is set in a child-like imagining of an astronaut’s world, but this lyrical tale about friendship and filial love unfolds in a wordless visual language that will entrance an audience of any age. This is a magical work, and we think it is unforgettable.
Cinema Nova Award for Best Fiction Short Film
When the Dogs Talked
Director – Elizabeth A Povinelli
Producers – Karrabing Indigenous Corporation, Tess Lea
What is it that fiction is? Of all the short films in MIFF this year, When the Dogs Talked was the work that most intelligently, astutely and passionately took on this question to ask how we tell our stories, why we tell our stories and from where do our stories emerge. There is a roughness to this film but that is integral to its success. It asks us to think through the complex and fraught contradictions involved in speaking Indigenous myth and truth in a still contested colonial space, in an Australian cinematic landscape that has privileged the settler story, the conquest story, the rational and European story. In making us think through the question of what truth might be, this film is an outstanding example of challenging the very assumptions that underlie our notions of fiction.
Swinburne Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker
Producers – David Easteal, Asuka Sylvie
Monaco, economically, and purely through the visual and sonic potential of cinema, tells a resonant and affecting story of suburban working-class life. On the evidence of this film, Easteal is a born filmmaker and one who understands that realism, when executed with integrity and care, can be truly poetic. There is a quiet excitement that comes from viewing a work that reveals such assured filmmaking talent. One cannot wait to see what this director will do next. But regardless of the future, Monaco is in itself a terrific achievement and already indicates that Easteal is one of the finest directors working in this country.
Film Victoria Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film
Oscar Wilde’s The Nightingale and The Rose
Directors – Brendan Fletcher, Del Kathryn Barton
Producers – Angie Fielder, Brendan Fletcher
One simple word, an exclamation shared by all the judges, conveys the visual and storytelling wonder of this film: Wow! This beautiful animated short is a collaboration between filmmaker, visual artist, musician and an outstanding voice cast, and everyone involved is at the very top of their game. The visuals are sensuous and often breathtaking, and the score and sound are exemplary. This reinterpretation of Wilde’s dark fairytale has its own visionary potency but is also faithful to the melancholy and heart-breaking power of the original tale. Wow, just wow!
City of Melbourne Grand Prix for Best Short Film
Everything Will Be Okay
Director/Producer – Patrick Vollrath
This is a film of devastating emotive force. The direction is assured and controlled, the script is a wonder of the small telling detail, and the performances are utterly authentic and compelling. Vollrath takes the emotional violence and damage that can tear families apart – all in the name of love – and crafts a work that refuses easy tabloid conclusions. Economically, with humanity and insight, it reveals the tragedy within the domestic. It is a superb example of the art of the short film, of how the universal can be expressed concisely, of how the fiction film can reveal uncomfortable and complex truths.