Early Summer 2016


Early Summer 2016 – Official Selection


Festival Laurels (all categories + nomination laurel + special mention laurel)


  • Jury Prize

Feature Film Winner: Seat 25 by Nicholas Agnew (Facebook)

Jury Member, Xavier Baeyens says:

“What would you do if…?” is a wonderful story device. It helps build something we can all relate to during the course of the film’s run-time, as its main ideology of testing the audience (or at least to drive the viewer to have an opinion about it), is to imagine a particular challenge at hand; which the audience will have to struggle with in toe with the character. It’s this question director Nicholas Agnew drops upon Faye Banks, as she wins a seat on the first manned mission to Mars in a competition, that provokes the film into being.

“Seat 25” is a moving drama about existential doubt with some really nice subtle comedy winks to it. Agnew lets some melancholy creep in, but the film never loses its positive vibe. Perhaps its because of the moral of the story is too clear and obvious from the start, all the same though, it never spoils the pleasure of watching.

Lead actress Madeleine Cooke gives a pleasant performance as the troubled Faye, making the doubt really believable and realistic. Also the people around her are very well portrayed, they are real flesh and blood people with their annoying sides, but never unlikable.

Runner up: Writer’s Cramp by Darva Campbell (Facebook)


Short Film Winner: Jaded Star by James Debenham (Website)

Jury Member, Xavier Baeyens says:

‘Jaded Star’ is a visually stunning sci-fi drama. Obviously, because of its higher production costs, sci-fi films are often a bit neglected by short filmmakers. Director Debenham showcases there is nothing to be scared of when it comes to trying your hand at a sci-fi film. The story about a deep space mining vessel in trouble after a mysterious illness takes down the crew, is mainly approached from a psychological point-of-view. The performances give an almost touchable sense of desolation and desperation.

Another winner for this film is definitely the work of the art department, turning the story into a feverish nightmare at times. The feeling of claustrophobia is not only present in the interior design, but the whole universe which they create feels small and burdensome.

Runners up: The One by Lyndsay Sarah Doyle (Facebook)

— please note: Our jury votes independently to the selection committee.


Main competition:

  • Best Feature Film made for less than $5,000


Winner: Seat 25 by Nicholas Agnew (Facebook)


Festival Director says:

This isn’t ‘Amelie’, but it feels like it. With its heavy handed voice over, glossy photography and slick cuts, we are paced from moment to moment tracing the lives of each character we bounce into. But that isn’t an issue, after all, a film of this tone couldn’t be any different – it is the epitome of a well rounded postmodern sci-fi gooeyness.

The film itself is of the era: it is a smart and quirky independent film, though it is a less artistic note of the likes of ‘Another Earth’ and ‘Upstream Colour’; and perhaps a more entertaining one at times. Though, of course, it is cruel to compare these indies, as they’re clearly targeting different types of audiences.

There’s a firing scene – something quite touching, jolting towards the Jason Reitman ‘Up In The Air’ vibe, and there’s also a touch of the lonely in the lead character – Faye; or is it perhaps doubt about what she is about to do? Whatever take it is you have of her, she’s charming all the same. Flavourings of Philip Glass come across in the piano works – Faye’s life deserves the accompaniment. Though I’m not sure if he was even an inspiration, or if I’m just thinking of ‘The Hours’ as yet another cross pollinated flavour the film might be prone to.

The main embedded message of what makes us human stems off of the promised seat which a lucky winner will be granted – a chance to escape it all and be a part of ‘history’. The film is overall well rounded, starts off perhaps a bit stronger than the way it ends; but it is nonetheless a bit of light hearted escapism for its viewers built on the back of its wonderful use of its very low budget.


Nominees: … and the Rest is History by Niko Kühnel (Facebook), Good Thinking, Those Who Who’ve Tried To Halt Nuclear Weapons by Anthony Donovan (Website), Hunters Lodge by Martyn Tott (Facebook), The Watson Code by James Whalen (Website)


  • Best Feature Film made for between $5,000-$10,000


Winner: Quad X: The Porn Movie Massacre by James Christopher (Facebook)


Festival Director says:

The really funny thing about James Christopher’s film isn’t really it’s comedy, not to say that that’s not funny (it is incredibly funny at times) – but for me, the funniest thing really is its concept alone, and the fact that no one has really done this type of film yet. I’m jealous. Of late I’ve been trying to find a perfect horror film to make, or comedy, something really heavily genre based… and here there’s this effort, a film about a killer killing off adult stars featuring in a making-of type of documentary gone wrong. It’s gory, it’s funny, it’s a ‘Scream’ by ‘Scary Movie’ glory. It is a concept that should have already been made in a bigger scale, someone ought to have made a franchise out of this in Hollywood back in the noughties.

It’s definitely of our time though – a delicious self conscious sexy gutty romp that hangs on the tongue of its own clever delight. Its also all the things I love about indie film: inventive, creative and ludicrously personal. And by personal I really do mean that it has a personal voice — it isn’t the blockbuster with meaningless themes that everyone can relate to, it isn’t void of meaning, it somehow represents a personal point of view of what film should be, and how it should function. Major hat tips to all those involved, it’s a brave and unique venture.


Nominee: Just My Luck by Bill Hass (Website)


  • Best Feature Film made for more than $10,000


Not enough entries budged over $10,000 to run this category as a competition.  


  • Best Short Film made for less than $5,000


Winner:  The Party Game by George Kenwright (website)


Festival Director says:

George Kenwright’s ‘The Party Game’ isn’t of our time. It’s narrative structure, built on the storytelling of its characters, is of a different era of film – its a throwback to realist cinema, the type which the French New Wave produced with Cinema Du Look. Though, of course, ‘The Party Game’ doesn’t have that bold 80’s neon light, but it does have a particular polished image, and a tale which will twist its viewers into listening carefully. Its an intellectual exercise: an examination of people’s faces, our attention, the moments in which the story takes to be told, and the layered realities of plot and story – the time which it takes to tell the story, for us to watch the film, and the length of time told within the story itself; a story about another party in which a vicious party game was played. Of course, one can’t help but feel like a guest at the dinner table, this is of course until we move to the kitchen for a short ending and an exit from that tone; but it is in those moments before, with the careful building towards our exit, in which we are privy to some sordid gossip and exposition about who’s telling the story, and what kind of reaction they will yield from their guests, and us.

To me, this film is a wonderful underdog of a film – the type of indie venture which didn’t require a ton loads of effects and glossy lens flares to remind us what cinema is about. It’s the type of cinema the late Abbas Kiarostami would have championed, the type which we ought to be seeing more of with the advent of the so-called digital revolution of the camera-stylo, but sadly haven’t been privy to in popular films just yet.

All we need now is a feature, perhaps one set in a launderette or an office meeting room… Kenwright is bound to bring the characters to the space, and tease us to delight.


Nominees: Fureur by PH Debiès (No links provided), Soft Yellow by Abbas Davoudi, Below the Kneck by Samuel Wiggins (Facebook), ID by Celina Font (Vimeo), Caught in my EyE by William Instone (No link provided)


Best Short Film made for between $5,000-$10,000


Winner: Litter Bugg by Amber Jo Weedon (Facebook)


Festival Director says:

From its opening – a blueish city with long shots establishing the sterile space, filled with herds of businessmen; to its last breath- a man sitting on a mountain of junk, ‘Litter Bugg’ is a wonderful foray into that  Marc Caro and Jean-Pierre Jeunet type of filmmaking: stylised, colourised and humble.

The one thing I loved about ‘Litter Bugg’ that really struck me wasn’t so much the choice to focus on the lonely city character with an imaginary friend (as we’ve seen that before), but rather how it was delivered. There’s no denying the fact that Tom Machell really did throw himself into the role, and tried to become Dustin Bugg through and through. And then there’s also Evan Trout’s cinematography, which elevates the film into a surreal foray, whilst maintaining a certain of steady stylised hand on the whole film’s texture.

For Amber Jo Weedon this might have been a first foray as a director, but she’s on the right path here. It feels like more of a sophomore effort if anything – reserved, more controlled than your first venture. She has a grip on several characters within the film, both likeable and not so much, and they all come across as being rather realistic, rather than unbelievable caricatures. Perhaps all we need now is for Weedon to step further into a more diverse narrative, one which includes a set of lead characters than just say the one, because lets be honest – she’s got the skills to deliver another type of ‘Pushing Daisies’ or ‘The City of Lost Children’: a quirky, multilayered, mythological world based story with realistically portrayed cartoon like beings.


Nominees:  The Pit by Kari Hennig (Website), Avoy by Pedro Duran (No link provided), Jaded Star by James Debenham (Website)


  • Best Short Film made for more than $10,000


Not enough entries budged over $10,000 to run this category as a competition.  

Other categories:


  • Best Cinematography of the season


Winner: Davide Hodgson-Lorente photography in The Party Game (website)

A wonderfully photographed film which manages to maintain its cinematic image throughout the film, it’s all very slick and clean.


Nominees: Federico Zotti’s photography in The Anniversary (Facebook), Gilbert Papazian’s photography in Writer’s Cramp (Facebook), William Lancaster’s photography in Imitation is Suicide (No link provided)


  • Best Actor of the season


Winner: Pedro Freijeiro in The Perfect Day (No link provided)

A carefully nuanced performance which watches a man move from hero to zero, and back again. Freigeiro is loveable with his deliverance of this persona.


Nominees: Dalton Cyr in Imitation is Suicide (No link provided), Artemas Froushan in The Party Game (Website), Jacob Jett in The One (Facebook), James Whalen in The Watson Code (Website)


Best Actress of the season


Winner: Kya Stewart in The One (Facebook)

Stewart is bold, memorable and elegant. Her performance as a woman done wrong by a controlling boyfriend is elevated, somewhat memorable of Katie Jarvis is Fish Tank.


Nominees: Lydia Lakemoore in Extra Time (Facebook), Heather Bowry in Dead Eye Jack (No link provided), Amanda Bray in Mind Games (Website)


  • Best Score of the season


Winner: Sergio Fernandez-Sastron’s music in The Perfect Day (No link provided)

The score of The Perfect Day was a throwback to the Hollywood splash of passion from the 30’s and 40’s. A wonderful layer to the film’s tone.


Nominees: Matteo Stocchino’s music in A Sweetheart Inside a Cappuccino (Facebook), Amir Muhammad’s music in Extra Time (Facebook)


  • Best Genre Piece of the season


Winner: They Call Us Maids – the Domestic Workers’ Story by Leeds Animation Workshop (Facebook)

A wonderful moving documentary delivered in the form of an animation, the formation of the film as several genre tools was incredibly well thought out.


Nominees: A Sweetheart Inside a Cappuccino by Marco daffra (Facebook), The Awakening by Rosemarie Nelson (Facebook), Good Thinking, Those Who Who’ve Tried To Halt Nuclear Weapons by Anthony Donovan (Website)


  • Best Direction of the season


Winner:  The One by Lyndsay Sarah Doyle (Facebook)

Doyle’s direction here is passionate – it’s reserved when it needs to be, and grand when it feels like giving us a taste of the Australian outback. Her personal touches, delivering a wonderful set of characters is undeniable.


Nominees: Extra Time by Caris Rianne (Facebook), Imitation is Suicide by Julian Davis (No link provided)


  • Best Writing of the season


Winner: Extra Time by Caris Rianne (Facebook)

A wonderfully original story carries Extra Time. The characters are fresh, and the tale is carefully balanced.


Nominees: Mind Games by Jonathan Bray (Website), … and the Rest is History by Niko Kühnel (Facebook)


  • Best Editing of the season


Winner: Julian Davis’ editing of Imitation is Suicide (No link provided)

With its careful layering of silent scenes, with its text-city plot is a wonderful exercise in devices: editing being the forefront of these. It’s through that age old edit Eisenstein taught us: ‘image a+ image b = image c’ that the story is delivered to us.


Nominees: Markus Eichenberger’s editing of Swiss Starlight Express (website), Extra Time by Caris Rianne (Facebook)


  • Special Mention


A Quiet Life by Laurene P. Derya (Website), Context by Carlos Dominicis (Facebook), Dark Clouds Far Away by Ian Lapworth (Film link), Death Walks by Spencer Hawken (Facebook)


* Please note: some categories vary in the number of nominations based on the quality and quantity of submissions. There is a minimum of two nominations, a maximum of five nominations and one win per category.