MIFF features one of the most highly regarded short film competitions in the Southern Hemisphere.
The 59th MIFF Shorts Awards were presented by Mountain Goat Beer. With thanks to our Shorts Awards partners, the eligible short films competed for a total cash prize pool of $35,500. In 2020, the jury consisted of Arrernte and Arabana actor Aaron Pedersen; actor, writer and producer Chris Pang; and actor and filmmaker Rachel Griffiths.
City of Melbourne Grand Prix for Best Short Film
Director: Anthony Nti
Producers: Anthony Nti, Chingiz Karibekov and Dimitri Verbeeck
The jury was unanimous in awarding the City of Melbourne Grand Prix to Da Yie, directed by Anthony Nti. The film really struck a chord with us for its accomplished cinematic realisation and extraordinarily empathetic storytelling, as it explores the fragile innocence of children in communities vulnerable to exploitation. The film walks an emotional tightrope: in refusing to dehumanise its apparent antagonist, it asks us instead to face broader questions around our culpability in systems of inequality. It also emphatically affirms the unique privilege available to humans to choose the righteous path of collective responsibility. – Rachel Griffiths
Jury Award for Outstanding Performance
Film: Da Yie
The jury were so moved by Da Yie that we chose to confer a Special Jury Award to one of its incredible leads, the young Matilda Enchil, whose standout performance carried much of the film. It is extremely difficult to draw a rich and dynamic performance from a short-form work, but Matilda’s turn was outstanding and intrinsic to the strength of this powerful film. You just can’t take your eyes off her. She inhabits her role so completely that the audience are with her every breath – on the edge of our seats, hoping desperately that misfortune and dark forces do not prevail. She is both wildly expressive on screen and stunningly contained, effortlessly making lightning turns from joy to unease to fear.
Matilda’s performance is movie-star-specific – both in gesture and in confident, fast-paced dialogue delivery – yet, somehow, she comes to embody the potential and vulnerabilities of all girls born into structural disadvantage across the globe. This ability to authentically portray the experiences of a single person as well as those of a collective is something an actor can spend a lifetime trying to master. We hope this award brings her to the attention of other filmmakers, should she wish to continue to pursue acting. – Rachel Griffiths
Film Victoria Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film
Director: Jon Bell
Producers: Taylor Goddard, Kristina Ceyton, Mitchell Stanley and Samantha Jennings
The Moogai is more than just a genre film – it’s the truth. Director Jon Bell depicts the fear and the devastating impact on Indigenous families right across this nation. This film is only too real, as it’s the past, the present, the future; it’s now even more relevant in that Aboriginal children are disproportionately represented in out-of-home care and at growing rates. The reality is, taking our children away in the first place is the horror. – Aaron Pedersen
Special Mention for Best Australian Short Film
Day in the Life
Directors: Karrabing Film Collective
Producers: Karrabing Film Collective
The “day in the life” highlighted by the Karrabing Film Collective is a day in the life of disgusting and repetitive behaviour displayed by the Australian Government. Day in and day out, it’s a crush of lies where “nobody really cares and somebody’s making money”. Aboriginal disadvantage is the central factor. It’s deplorable that people have been ripped off in remote communities for many, many years; the money not spent on Aboriginal communities is being siphoned off and spent on non-Indigenous communities. This is disgusting and it has to stop. First Peoples first. – Aaron Pedersen
Abercrombie & Kent Award for Best Documentary Short Film
The Weight of All the Beauty
Director: Eeva Mägi
Producer: Liis Nimik
In The Weight of All the Beauty, director Eeva Mägi captures its subject Villi’s vulnerability, showing us his insightful wisdom as an elder, and allowing us a window into what he has loved and what he has lost in his world. His stillness and silence reflect the inner peace that he has found as well as the physical courage that he needed as a young man in order to be a survivor. – Chris Pang
Director: Élodie Dermange
Producer: Annick Teninge
Inès is a graceful illustration of the complexity of emotions a woman faces when confronted with unprepared pregnancy. Élodie Dermange’s purposeful yet free style of watercolour animation perfectly communicates the anxiety and fears of motherhood, and allows us to enter both the reality and mind of the subject. Whether a pedestrian conversation or a panic-inducing headspin, the film’s ability to express volumes with its simplicity demonstrates storytelling at its finest. – Chris Pang
Blackmagic Design Award for Best Cinematography in a Short Film
Directors: Nevena Desivojević
Producers: Ivan Milosavljević, Nevena Desivojević, João Matos, Leonor Noivo, Luisa Homem, Susana Nobre, Pedro Pinho and Tiago Hespanha
While the distinction between direction and cinematography can be ambiguous, there is no doubt here that they are one and the same. Through Nevena Desivojević’s lens, inanimate scenes breathe life and her subjects bare their souls, as her incredible ability to romanticise the ordinary finds beauty in every frame. With masterful composition and framing, she perfectly encapsulates the loneliness and desolation of a moment in this man’s life. The haunting imagery stays with you long after the film’s conclusion. – Chris Pang
The MIFF Shorts Awards are Academy Awards® accredited. The 2020 winners of the Best Short Film, Best Australian Short Film and Best Documentary Short Film awards are eligible to submit their film for the 93rd Academy Awards®.
See previous winners: