Final season of 2016

Find your laurels here.


Feature Film Winner:  Northern Lights by Nicholas Connor (Link)

Festival Director, Ben Rider says:

There is a particular style to Northern Lights, its a cool film – and I don’t mean that in the celluloid neuvo of the French New Wave sense, but rather that being of it being cold. Yes, this film is very clinical, precise, and cool film. It brushes over you like a cold breeze, a very British one. This is in part because of the crisp photography, leaning more towards the Kubrick look of space, than say the grainy greasy one of Scott’s Alien. Obviously, in saying this, I know that this isn’t a film set in space, and rather one which takes place in interiors on earth… mostly.

Part of its rehearsed feeling, and precision, is due to its very youthful cast, which seemingly seem to be suffering at the hands of anxiety, and realism, as kids this age are rarely actually played by people their own age on screen; instead, casting wise, these roles are reserved for 30-something year-old’s impersonating youngsters – making this experience fairly unique. Kids, by Larry Clarke, feels like an example which ties with this, only that film was a dirty 90’s socio-politics film. And this isn’t.

Its on this front that the film excels, it is the work of a younger generation of filmmakers, one which has yet to really find their voice or spokesperson (I mean, we have yet to have had the next wave of Lena Dunham and Xavier Dolan arrive), and in turn, one can’t help but encourage this effort, as it is one which would have required a lot of patience and persistence.
The film is delivered in completion, its slick and visually classy. It does lag a bit, plot wise, but it makes up for it with sheer cognitive ingenuity around the anxiety images of smoke riddled poses, ones which evoke a Lana Del Rey meets David Lynch dreamscape.

Runner up: Genius Loci by Pascal Griesshammer 


Short Film Winner: State Inspection by David Smith (Link)

Festival Director, Ben Rider says:

‘Eh, Um, I’m Nate by the way.’

‘My dad’s name is Nate.’

– quick Google – showing results for for ‘can girls still like you if you have the same name as their dad?’

The strongest hand which State Inspection plays is casting. Sure – the script is original and fairly unusual for a short film (its pacing feeling more like one of those carefully written HBO shows like (early season) Girls, Divorce or the ‘cancelled too soon’ Enlightened), and the photography is crisp, and clean, easy to follow and engaging, occasionally playful with its lighting… but what really trumps this project is its cast.

Be it the choice of using Nate Cesco, who’s underplayed ‘comedy lead’ type rings a flavour of Paul Rudd minus the heavy kick-drum punchlines (Nate seems to be more inclined to underplay his part, which is always the best way to do things – he’s not too nervous or too shy, making him functional and engaging without any too queasy a feeling from the audience), the naturalistic Abbey Miskowiec remains energetic through the whole ordeal at the car lot, making the short appear as if it were shot in one afternoon (which I’m sure it wasn’t), and then there’s the finely tuned tones of Damian Ross, who is probably one of the most well spoken and controlled performers in this season’s film submissions.

Praise is obviously due to the ‘behind the camera’ people too, the directing is balanced, allowing for other elements of the film to step forwards and shine, and the production overall has a particular consistent quality to it which many shorts fail to reach. PS.Best of luck with the upcoming feature!

Runners up: Charlie by Nicole Pott (Link), One Day Without Gravity by Julio Secchin (Link),  Hit Me by Borislav Kostov (No Link),  Harm by C.J. Hodgman (Link)




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

Winner: The Archipelago by Benoit Maestre (Link)

Festival Director says:

The direction which Benoit Maestre employs in The Archipelago is quite unusual. Reminiscent of Semih Kaplanoğlu’s style – the film enjoys long takes, minimalist movement inter-cut with faster pans, rare and precise dialogue, and an eye for the texture of the scenic locales; in turn, the film’s genre tone of a killer-thriller is largely overpowered by these functions. Similarly, the disjointed French New Wave music edits, and harsh motifs of guitar tabs, along with the endless journeys the one lead protagonist takes, the film’s overall filmic dialect becomes very pronounced and reassuringly untamed – almost like a wild animal, generated away from the city of Hollywood flicks.

Is it entirely successful? Not really, the film is quite slow.. But it shouldn’t be criticised either, as it is a film employing devices and techniques which we are not used to. It is, because of this, unsettling, both thematically, and as an experience when viewed. Will these devices work again? I’m not entirely convinced. However, it is at the cusp of this argument that appraisal is due – films with unique and unconventional methods are unusual, and from the film archivist’s point of view (that being, the individual looking back at cinema from the ‘contemporary’ moment), one can’t help but film this film full of allure and gusto with embracing its own methodology, making it very memorable and hard to ignore.

Nominees: A Murder Party by Angeline Walsh (No Link)

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

Winner: Genius Loci by Pascal Griesshammer (Link)

Festival Director says:

With its uncertain mood, Genius Loci sees its lead character, Franzi, delving deeper and deeper into the inner sanctum of her mind, and the rustic pastiche home she’s living in.

The interesting motif of this film, or perhaps its tone when viewed, is daydreaming. Cinema has a habit of ignoring this prime cognitive device, but it is what makes film interesting as a medium – viewers are given the ability to daydream whilst watching a film, attempting to relate to the character and the circumstance the film is set in. This film however utilises this, forcing the viewer to conceit to the inner psyche and silence of the personal moments a character might have whilst hiding out in the woods.

It isn’t brash with style, nor is it really aggressive with its agenda, however; if one is able to sit back and enjoy the motions which head towards the viewer in waves of unconscious thought, the experience of Genius Loci is refreshing, and a tad similar to the earlier works of Werner Herzog, such as Heart of Glass.

Nominees: Northern Lights by Nicholas Connor  (Link)

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

Winner: Shadow of the Missing by Jamie Lee Smith (Link)

Festival Director says:

In one of the early scenes of Shadow of the Missing a small rudimentary screening occurs – a filmmaker’s account of off-school life is screened to a bunch of film enthusiasts. Then there is eye rolling by one of the viewers, and as we scout the extras, bored faces. The QandA follows, a simple question is asked, and a simple answer is given. In turn, the scene, like this, is a simple rendering of actual film festival experiences. I have had to sit through those kind of screenings, and have had the exact same thought… and I did huff at the short films which did not need to be screened to anyone.

However, this is the backdrop to a found footage comedy, and thankfully things do not end up being quite as bad as the film which it depicted. The film dislodges the prudish film academia vibe, and toys with the concept of film buffs being nothing more than buffoons walking about with cameras. They wander into the haunted church, they giggle and scream, and we in turn, do just the same.

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

Winner: Charlie by Nicole Pott (Link)

Festival Director says:

There is a familiar flavouring to Nicole Pott’s Charlie – it is the air of a John Ford film. The rural setting, the caravan habitation, the dark night interrupted with the arrival of a stranger in need of some shelter. Its simplistic, its unadulterated, and it is poignant.

Part of the film’s charm is its locale – not so much the one which we don’t see, as the countryside doesn’t play heavily in the film’s aesthetics, but rather the one which acts in our mind’s eye as a backdrop as to why the characters are where they are, and why they are living the lives which they are living.

Jordan Turk’s performance as Charlie is quite controlled, memorable and of particular note and interest – he doesn’t over compensate for the film’s lack of expense by becoming cartoonish, but rather relies on his controlled voice and its timber to elevate his performance above average; this is further heightened by Pott’s ability to elevate the film’s style and tone to that of a whisper, rather than a shout. There is much to be said for the strength of delivering a calm narrative, instead that of screaming its message and expense at the viewer.

Nominees: State Inspection by David Smith (Link), Incoming Call by Eoin Cleland (Link), Too Old To by Hayley-Marie Axe (No Link)

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

Winner: Take The Heat by Elena Riabtceva (No Link)

Festival Director says:

Elena Riabtceva’s stylish foray into the memory surreal wormhole is an extravagant visuals splash. The film is somewhat reminiscent of Marc Forster’s 2005 effort ‘Stay’.

Here Riabtceva’s film delves into the recesses of the unusual ‘Milgram experiment’. The film appears visually to be a palette throwback to a by-gone era of both soviet cinema, and the b-movie science fictions efforts which often dominated drive-in theatres in America. There is a particular comfort in seeing these visuals and editing techniques so well presented in a contemporary effort, it is rare to see such experimentation these days, and is exciting to say the least!

The subject matter at hand has a homely confrontation, dissecting the individual from its personal surroundings, as well as the added pressures of a character attempting to outrun their own misgiving family members. The script bares some similarities to Kafka’s writings in that regard, and helps to show off the overwhelming skills of Riabtceva’s narrative.

Nominees: One Day Without Gravity by Julio Secchin (Link), The Last Zombie by Anthony Lecomte (Link)

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

Winner: The Year I Did Acid by Chandra Siddan (Link)

Festival Director says:

Chandra Siddan’s short film isn’t a short film. It is a condensed feature as far as I’m concerned, carrying the rich textures of a rural picture, like The Spirit Of The Beehive or Cinema Paradiso. The Year I Did Acid carries a particular alchemy towards the past – it is neither a nostalgia picture, or a docu-drama piece; but it is the taste of the bygone, a leftover bottle of some sugary drink discovered in the cupboard, its flavour is familiar, but a little more sour and toxic than we’d like to taste.

It’s characteristic exploration, the performances which colour it, and the image presenting them, are rich, and particularly Americana in their presentation; almost in the same vein of the more frightening and adult coming of age films, far removed from the John Hughes flicks. There is no denying that there is a voice present here – one which is enjoyable to listen to, one which is sleazy and truthful.

Nominees: Hard Reset by Sylvain Razemon (Link), Wake Me Up by Reem Sameer Al-Bayyat (No Link)

  • Best Webseries

Winner: Ebersberg by Manuel Weiss (Link)

Festival Director says:

Slick, mystical and noir heavy, Ebersberg might be one of the best web series I’ve ever seen. On a par with those Amazon and Netflix offerings.

Nominees:  2 Become by Mikael Buxton and Romain Douchin (Link), Happy Sour by Samuel Wilson (Link)

Other categories:

  • Best Cinematography of the season

Winner: Daniel Venosa’s photography of One Day Without Gravity (Link)

Its brash with technique, like Gravity, this short delights with a firm igniting ‘how did they shoot that?’ feeling of unease and simple photographic beauty.

Nominees: Tony McGuire’s photography of The Hag: Bloodline (Link), Manuel Weiss and Stefan Dyrna’s photography in Ebersberg  (Link), Kwoi Gin’s photography of The Year I Did Acid (Link)

  • Best Actor of the season

Winner: Nate Cesco in State Inspection (Link)

Nate Cesco helms his performance with ease – he’s funny, on key, and always realistic as the naive auto-visitor; busy flirting whilst his car gets a check up. In the words of Josh Radnor: ‘Happy, thank you, more please’.

Nominees: Ian Kevin Scott in Alchemy (Link), Adam Dada in Nowhere (Link)

  • Best Actress of the season

Winner: Marie Gesien in Genius Loci (Link)

Marie Gesien haunts her viewers as Franzi. Her performance is distilled, and clean. There are no moments of forcefulness, only calmness here.

Nominees: Sarah Graydon in The Year I Did Acid (Link), Katie Sheridan in Match Not Found (Link)

  • Best Score of the season

Winner: Conor McCabe, Paul Hinks, Shaquel Reyes and Oskar Strawinki’s score of Northern Lights (Link)

There is a certain quietness to Northern Lights, little is said as it revolves around a young woman suffering from repeated anxiety attacks. The score here elevates the film’s tones, and maintains the mood like a Angelo Badalamenti score.

Nominees: Sean Mahoney’s score of Ophelia (Link)

  • Best Genre Piece of the season

Winner: The Last Zombie by Anthony Lecomte (Link)

An unusual and original foray into the genre mixology of the post-modern hyper ‘real’ form of the moving image medium. Reminiscent of Tara Subkoff and Quentin Dupieux’s filmic efforts. Full of pop and pulp.

Nominees: Save by Iván Sáinz-Pardo (Link), Milano-Shanghai One-Way by Gino Ceriachi (no link), Forgiveness by Matt Shuert (No Link), Shadow of the Missing by Jamie Lee Smith (Link)

  • Best Direction of the season

Winner: The Year I Did Acid by Chandra Siddan (Link)

The personal touches of The Year I Did Acid make it above average in terms of its vision, it is an intimate film, unafraid of getting close to its subject matter and focusing on it with care.

Nominees: State Inspection by David Smith (Link), Northern Lights by Nicholas Connor  (Link),

  • Best Writing of the season

Winner: 2 Become by Mikael Buxton (Link)

Mikael Buxton’s writing is engaging, forward moving, and incredibly well-paced – there isn’t a moment spared.

Nominees: Hit Me by Borislav Kostov (No Link), State Inspection by David Smith (Link),  Harm by C.J. Hodgman (Link)

  • Best Editing of the season

Winner: Benn Berkeley’s editing of Eye of India (Link)

For a moment we are here looking at a flame, the next down the barrel of a yellow cave, or opening. Images twist, unfold, and time is rejigged over and over in Eye of India. Like the early studies of walls being collapsed, rewound, and rebuild, during the early camera tests; this short film ignites the movement of film as a medium of time, space and experience.

Nominees: Anne Nicholson’s editing of Harm (Link), Amy Pfeil’s editing of Northern Lights (Link)

  • Special Mention

Carmilla by Jeff Harder (Link), Stragglers by Andy Blithe (Link)

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