2016 Melbourne International Film Festival Shorts Awards announced

MIFF Aggelos Papantoniou Mrs. MetroFrom a pool of 88 eligible shorts, the seven winners of the 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) Shorts Awards have been announced at a ceremony in Melbourne on Sunday evening. Spanning five countries, the winning films covered everything from fashion, sexuality and poverty to tales about coming-of-age and crying babies.

Not only did the winners walk away with a total cash prize pool of $42,000, the recipients of the Best MIFF Short, Best Australian and Best Documentary awards will also be eligible to submit their films for the 89th Academy Awards in 2017. The MIFF Shorts Awards are Academy, BAFTA and AACTA accredited. Jury members included: Award-winning writer Alice Pung, Paul Tonta from Madman Entertainment and film producer Rita Walsh.

The 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival Award Winners are:

Melbourne International Film Festival Award for Best Experimental Short Film:
Director: Cyprien Gaillard / Producers: Simone Manwarring, Sprüth Magers
Jury Statement: Illuminating, hypnotising and electrifying, Nightlife sticks in the brain for days. The stunning visuals brilliantly evolve before our eyes, transforming from the everyday to the alien and back again and the filmmaker demonstrates an impeccable understanding of sonic and visual craft as they seamlessly bring the viewer to see the world through fresh eyes. Nightlife is the unforgettable realisation of the extraordinary ordinariness of ‘still’ life around us.

RMIT University for Best Documentary Short Film:
Fairy Tales
Director: Rongfei Guo / Producers: Rongfei Guo, Kit Chung
Jury Statement: Fairy Tales deals with media and the fashion industry’s commodification of that rarest of talents – a true original working in isolation, producing outsider art. Yet it does this with great nuance, depth and genuine heart; and without being didactic or saccharine.  While the narrative impetus of the film is character-driven (focusing on the charming ‘Fairy’), it also encompasses wider issues of class, culture, race, gender, the role of social media and the value of creativity in a contemporary society driven by market values.

SAE Award for Best Animation Short Film:
Deer Flower
Director / Producer: Kangmin Kim
Jury Statement: A rite of passage like no other, Kangmin Kim’s beautiful design and stop-motion animation marries perfectly with Intricate sound design and music delivering a hypnotic tale of a family’s trip to boost the health of their son. With the young boy as our point of view, we are as uncertain and trepidatious as he is of the destination, but with the intrepid and assured hand of Kim we are taken on a bold cinematic journey of the senses.

Cinema Nova Award for Best Fiction Short Film:
In The Year of Monkey
Director / Producer: Wregas Bhanuteja
Jury Statement: In The Year of Monkey explores power, poverty and colonisation through the simple plot device of a sexual game played for high stakes. It is to be commended on its superb casting of native Indonesian faces, its disturbing but always on point display of nudity, and its carefully crafted mix of tension and humour, all culminating in an unexpected and powerful ending. This is a deceptively simple yet brilliant plotted film that remains in the memory long after viewing.

Swinburne Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker: 
Luci Schroder for: Slapper
Producers – Luci Schroder, Jason Byrne, Michael Latham, Stephanie Westwood
Jury Statement: Slapper is a film of high ambition and confident execution. Luci Schroder has deftly created a visually striking story of the everyday battles of a young working class woman, but its real brilliance lies in the twists and turns of human interaction. Slapper leaves you gasping in shock. Schroder is clearly a filmmaker with a shrewd understanding of character and story. It is the mark of a real talent to surprise and move an audience as this film does.

Film Victoria Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film: 
Director: Mirrah Foulkes / Producer: Alex White
Jury Statement: Trespass is a superb example of the power of cinema to examine the strange motivations of human character. The performances are evocative and authentic – without any exposition the viewer creates their own story around both characters. Mirrah Foulkes has made a beautiful and moving film that resonates deeply, one that seamlessly combines moments of levity and darkness with maturity and elegance. Watching Trespass is a deceptively emotional experience.

City of Melbourne Grand Prix for Best Short Film:
Mrs. Metro
Director: Aggelos Papantoniou / Producer: Mark Lycette
Jury Statement: In just over 4 minutes Aggelos Papantoniou elicits a wide range of feelings and reactions – he makes us laugh, shocks us, and leaves us breathless with the thrilling inventiveness and creativity of Mrs. Metro. We’ve all taken public transport and can instantly recognise the characters on screen, but they’re made larger – or smaller – than real life with skewed angles and distorted bodies. An outstanding film that marks Papantoniou as an exciting new voice in Australian animation.

The 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival continues to 14 August. For more information, visit: www.miff.com.au for details.

Image: Aggelos Papantoniou’s Mrs. Metro (supplied)