Late Summer 2016 – Official Selection
Festival Laurels (all categories + nomination laurel + special mention laurel)
- Jury Prize
Feature Film Winner: The Algebra of Need by David Williams (Link)
Festival Director says:
With a French New Wave style, one which evokes a throwback to Godard’s minimalist surreal films, The Algebra of Need is a moving conceptual piece, never stagnant or still.
The film’s style, which dominates its form and structure, is one which remains fairly unique in cinema these days. Surrealist film ventures have somewhat gone out of style, and have disappeared into the micro budgets of low risk filmmaking. And yet, here it is – a film which derives less entertainment value from its drive to delivery plot points, but rather provides a cerebral movement within its content of ideas, images and shapes. Yes, it is a micro budget film – and at times limited to that canvas, but it is also worthy of more.
The film does also maintain a particular tone, one which like David Lynch’s work, which slowly seeps a dream into the audience’s mind. For the one moment of colour, which is slipped in whilst exploring a bizarre series of abandoned electronic devices, we, the viewers, are unsure of it is a dream or reality which we are experiencing.
It is commendable, and an acknowledgement should be made towards its director – David Williams, for making the best of what he had, and bringing an unadulterated vision to the screen.
Runner up: The Last Beautiful Girl by James Christopher (Link)
Short Film Winner: Husky by Yasmin Afifi (Link)
Jury Member, Jane Sanger says:
An incredibly observed and dissected story of becoming oneself without compromise, well directed by Yasmin Afifi. The particular coming of age story in Husky gives the reality of growing up on a London housing estate a unique perspective and but offers a universal theme that many have witnessed or felt themselves at some time in their life.
Ben Tisdall(Marcus) has been marking time, unknown even to himself, reluctantly engaging in the boyish pranks and pack mentality of his friends. John Christain Vickers (Dan) with testosterone flying is pushing the limits and sensing a wavering Marcus he goads him more than anyone. Tormenting a Downs Syndrome Girl, ostracizing and beating a Pakistani boy and his brother are all par for the course for Dan and his dog pack followers. Football playing lads must stick together in the game and in life.
Marcus is hesitant and when things go too far he finally breaks out and turns on the leader Dan in a violent outburst, that gives him the peace and identity he was lacking.
A well paced absorbing story, good cinematography and superb acting make this short film stand out.
Runners up: Gardening At Night by Shayna Connelly (No Link), Ghost Nets by Mark Bousfield (Link)
— please note: Our jury votes and selects films independently to the selection committee.
- Best Feature Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Demi by Caris Rianne (Link)
Festival Director says:
Earlier this year we were given Caris Rianne’s ‘Extra Time’ to judge. The film was a moving drama about a young woman attempting to play out her new relationship with her father post family divorce. At the time, here at TMBT Awards, we were under the impression that the young director had only made a few shorts… much to our surprise, and excitement, that wasn’t the case. Now, with ‘Demi’, Rianne’s debut feature, we are provided a stellar ensemble cast, a variety of narrative strands which build together to form the overall thematic arc, and a rich eye for characteristic and situational details; similar to the one which we had enjoyed with ‘Extra Time’.
What makes Rianne’s direction so prominent to us in both projects is her claim of a particular authorial voice. Yes, she is a female director, and yes, her films are of feminine subjects – something which is currently missing from our current landscape of the typical white male directors; but they are also more points than just these, as our encouragement and enjoyment of her projects are not limited to this particular political agenda.
It is more of the cinematic type – her stories are predominantly dramas, a genre avoided by young filmmakers. Her projects are built off of strong characters with mixed feelings and differing dynamics. Her projects remind us of what we love the most about film – they are personal, artful and moving. And here, with Demi, we are provided with what feels like a crescendo towards the next big thing. Rianne maintains what she is good at doing, all the while exploring new avenues of the feature length mode.
Demi feels like a cross of ‘Men, Women and Children’, ‘Pretty Persuasion’ and ‘Shame’. It’s a depth filled narrative rich with particular social issues, all the while maintaining some inventive cinematic flavours which elevate it above the average micro budget film. The closing scene, on the train, is a highlight of this – it is somewhat silent in terms of its message (though there is some diagetic sound), and the viewer is left to understand the meaning all alone; enjoying the basic cinematic sequences of image a + image b = image c (Eisenstein).
Nominees: A Tangled Web by Emmanuel Obi Jr. (Link)
- Best Feature Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: The Last Beautiful Girl by James Christopher (Link)
Festival Director says:
I believe that ‘The Last Beautiful Girl’ is the third feature film we have seen from James Christopher since opening The Monkey Bread Tree Film Awards. Over the last three pictures we have seen: soul, warmth, comedy, sadness, drama… a whole heap of skills and tones. To say that we are fans of his work is an understatement.
Here, with ‘The Last Beautiful Girl’, we have a more candid story. Relationships and people clash, comedy and drama flip flops. The performances are balanced, and easy to watch – unstaged and engaging. Heck – a highlight, besides the lead performance by Derek Babb, is the series of mishaps which performers help carry to reality, like the oily bed sequence and the awkward wedding ‘what are you doing?’ here moment.
The only flaw to this all is that Christopher has yet to be handed the keys to a Hollywood project. He’d be great for it, and we can’t wait to see what comes next!
Nominees: With Love From Suffolk (Link)
- Best Feature Film made for more than $10,000
Not enough submissions for this category to run.
- Best Short Film made for less than $5,000
Winner: Tyger Tyger by Jasia Kaulbach (Link)
Festival Director says:
For a low budget we expect: people talking, small rooms, acceptable technological material (clear sound, focused images etc). And the joy with Tyger Tyger is that it offers so much more. Some science fiction special effects, a surreal set of locations, a solid performance from its lead, and to top it all off – a bold visual aesthetic which allows the film to extend well past its expectations.
There is a moment in the film, nearing the end, where ‘Ty’ walks along the motorway. Its a visually bold moment, one which delivers all the film’s ambitions into one moment: a bold sense of character, a rich scope in terms of images, and a cinematic flavouring. This is one entertaining short film with a solid flavour!
- Best Short Film made for between $5,000-$10,000
Winner: Eben Skilleter’s writing of Brian And The Grim Reaper (Link)
Festival Director says:
The comedic highlights of ‘Brian And The Grim Reaper’ are of a cinematic nature – this being, that the story could only work and exist well within a filmic narrative. If this film were a book, it would read like a comedic essay, and wouldn’t engage the viewer past the post-modern tongue and cheek nature, and the same can be said to if it were a play. However, here, as a film, the story pans out within its false reality within a world where death can linger onto someone and try to change their life.
The picture’s punchlines, often delivered in a kind of ‘matter of fact’ statements (‘I bring order to chaos!’), ring a reminiscence of recent Tim Burton pictures, specifically ‘Dark Shadows’. Skilleter and Pink must be commended for their efforts here to deliver a project with a finely tuned understatement of tone, it isn’t camp or over worked, but stead a steady two-hander of life and death struggling to settle an argument as to what makes life worthwhile. Lastly, the film carries itself with a vibrant glossy look, almost making the project appear as if it were shot for more than it was (production values wise).
Nominees: WelcomeMatt by Mukul Gadde (No Link)
Best Short Film made for more than $10,000
Winner: Gardening At Night by Shayna Connelly (No Link)
Festival Director says:
Jonah Rubash’s beautiful cinematography heads up a fantastic ensemble, with slick editing and a smooth sound of the haunting ‘Gardening At Night’. The film, compromised of some very carefully constructed sequences, allows us – the viewers, to slowly creep into the circumstances surrounding the pending death and sorrow.
This short, with its particularly solid delivery across all of the production tools, feels like the work of a very skilled director. Perhaps one who has actually out grown the short film form. I say this (or rather write it), as an encouragement. Shayna Connelly has reached the peak of what one can achieve with a short film, she has propelled her viewers into a world within a few short moments, and as unexpected this film’s delights might be with its surreal elements, the narrative is too short lived, and perhaps not filling enough in terms of character depth and atmosphere; something a feature length project would allow for in terms of scope and experimentation.
If one had to liken Connelly to anyone, it would have to be Jonathan Glazer, like with ‘Birth’ and ‘Under The Skin’, Connelly relies on cerebral cinema, one which is rarely explored or utilised.
Nominees: Misfire by Tun Lok (No Link)
- Web Series
Winner: Idiotas by Fran Estevez (no link provided)
Festival Director says:
Fran Estevez’s Idiotas is a large scale webseries. Sure, by large scale I don’t mean it has the production values of a Netflix or Amazon venture. Yet, it is of a large scale than one would expect from these particular types of productions. It is verbose and luxurious with its vision of city skylines and scrap eating loners. Its story is simple: a homeless man lost in the city finds a red balloon carrying a note. The tone of the project, the style, is undeniably rich. The project is reminiscent of Albert Lamorisse’s The Red Balloon (1956), and carries the same theme of human interest and adventure. Its a promising first chapter to the webseries, and one which has many unexplored avenues ahead of it.
Nominees: 2nd Generation by Insup David Kim and Kevin Barton (no link provided)
- Best Cinematography of the season
Winner: William Schweikert’s photography in The Algebra of Need (Link)
With its limited budget, Schweikert manages to add a particularly unique style and consistency to The Algebra of Need’s visual palette. The project becomes memorable thanks to its stark and almost French New Wave sights.
Nominees: Voileta Octavio’s photography of Croissant (Link), Dennis Cahlo’s photography of The Weekend (Link), Marco Tulio Fuse’s photography in Obsessed (Link), Stuart Gilmartin photography in Dying To Forgive (Link), Jonah Rubash’s photography in Gardening At Night (No Link)
- Best Actor of the season
Winner: Joe Sowerbutts in Ghost Nets (Link)
Joe Sowerbutts’ performance in ‘Ghost Nets’ is surprisingly layered for a short film. Instead of playing it safe, he delves deep into his performance range. The short is elevated off the back of this, and allows for a strong balance of performances across the board. The highlight of his performance is most present in those quiet scenes, be it walking on the shore, or destroying objects in the dark woods.
- Best Actress of the season
Winner: Shannon Hayes in Tyger Tyger (Link)
Shannon Hayes’ performance as Tyger is a rich and dynamic performance. Her shifting between tones appears to be done with ease, as if she were professional who has worked on these skills for many years. She brings much energy and physicality to the role, making Tyger very ‘real’.
- Best Score of the season
Winner: Tom Rackham’s score of NEXUS (Link)
The score of NEXUS elevates the picture into a touch type friendly electronic buzz. Its tactile, it’s dangerous and buzz worthy.
Runner up: Dany De Cam’s score of Retirement (Link)
- Best Genre Piece of the season
Winner: The Last Harvest: The Yemenis of the San Joaquin by Erik Friedl and Jonathan Friedlander (No Link)
Documentaries about family members and their stories are often overworked and imbalanced. ‘The Last Harvest’ however is the personal workings of a story that needs to be told. Its to the point, moving and fantastically delivered. The closing note about Mohamad Abdullah’s life in the politically charged Yemen, and his urge to return to America, is brilliantly attuned with the notions of migration, and our current geopolitical issues of our contemporary, making the film relevant and informative.
Nominees: A Timeless Sin by Oliver Roblin (Link), Vistula – The Last Wild River by Karel Candi (no link), The Secret Lives of New York Cats by Steve Holloway (Link), One Under by Ruth Pickett (Link), Brian And The Grim Reaper bt Eben Skilleter (Link)
- Best Direction of the season
Winner: Husky by Yasmin Afifi (Link)
Afifi’s direction of Husky is fantastic. She has not only brought to the screen a very particular vision, one which is clear and distinctly hers, but she has also brought to life one of the most subtle and moving messages we have seen this season. Her efforts here are overwhelmingly poignant and moving, and must be encouraged to go further. Another film please!
- Best Writing of the season
Winner: One Under by Ruth Pickett (Link)
Pickett’s script is delightful. Her characters are alive, vibrant, and interesting. From the small posters in the background (‘we don’t care about your nut allergy’), to the potentially suicide helpline call with David’s foul mouthed boss, this script is full to the brim with dark humour and rich details. The only question we’ve got to ask is – where’s the feature venture? Because Pickett is clearly ready to ink the next lengthier effort.
Nominees: Ruth Pickett’s writing of La Belle Folie (Link), Pedro Brum writing of Tyger Tyger (Link), Michael Wing, Jonathon Cottrell and Anthony Giancola’s writing of WelcomeMatt (No Link), Eben Skilleter’s writing of Brian And The Grim Reaper (Link)
- Best Editing of the season
Winner: Roberto Nicastro’s editing of Ghost Nets (Link)
Nicastro’s editing of ‘Ghost Nets’ is very skilled. The cuts aid the pace of the film along, but are also stylised and technically apt. There’s a particular tone which the editing has allowed for, along with the script, which has developed a particular atmosphere fairly unique for short films. Highly recommended viewing.
- Special Mention
* 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.