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Winners of the Sydney Film Festival 2016

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We present the list of winners of the Sydney Film Festival (SFF) that took place from June 8th – 19th.

Sydney Film Prize

Aquarius

Aquarius by Kleber Mendonça Filho – France, Brazil | 2016 – 141 min.

Neighbouring Sounds, Kleber Mendonça Filho’s extraordinary examination of race, class and fear in Recife, Brazil appeared in the SFF Official Competition in 2012. In Aquarius, selected for the Competition in Cannes, Mendonça returns to his native Recife, again telling a story of great ambition and scope. This time he hones in on an unforgettable protagonist Clara, played brilliantly by the incomparable Sonia Braga (Kiss of the Spider Woman). 65-year-old Clara is a fiercely independent and intelligent retired music critic and the last resident of the seaside Aquarius building. Every other apartment has been acquired by a development company with plans for the site. Clara politely refuses to sell, but the requests from the company become increasingly aggressive. What follows is an escalating battle between Clara and the firm. In Clara, Mendonça has created a remarkable character for whom we feel great concern and affection. The film’s strength is in the way her life is conveyed in its fullness – her intellectual, family and sex lives are all explored. Through Clara, Mendonça masterfully reflects on an entire society in this powerful and complex film. (SFF Catalogue)

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Documentary Australia Foundation Award

In the Shadows of the Hill
Dan Jackson for the documentary In the Shadows of the Hill – Australia | 2016 – 98 min.

In an effort to guarantee security for the 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympics, Brazilian authorities embarked on a controversial program to recapture territories controlled by drug traffickers. In November 2011, an elite police squad (the notorious BOPE) moved into Rio de Janiero’s largest slum, Rocinha. Amid reports of police brutality, local man Amarildo de Souza disappeared; he was last seen in custody. Fired up, the community start a protest movement that becomes a game changer. Debut feature director Jackson, who lived in the community for over a year, tells this momentous story through interviews with de Souza’s family, activist lawyer Joao Trancredo, and favela residents. (SFF Catalogue)

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Special Mention

Destination
Sascha Ettinger Epstein for the documentary Destination Arnold – Australia | 2016 – 72 min

Tash and Kylene are two Indigenous women with a dream to make it to the Arnolds – an amateur bodybuilding competition being held in Australia for the first time. Tash, a single mum, juggles childcare with trips to the gym. Her toddler Harley is her greatest critic: “tummy doesn’t look good mummy!” Kylene, who once weighed 100 kilograms, is now taut and trim, but can she maintain her form? The determined women struggle with diets, exercise and inner demons in their roller-coaster efforts to achieve their Arnie-inspired goal. Ettinger Epstein filmed the Sydney duo over two years, achieving an openness and rapport that make this documentary exceptionally warm and affecting. (SFF Catalogue)

Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director

You Deserve Everything

Goran Stolevski for the film You Deserve Everything – Australia | 2015 – 19 min.

A doctor’s tentative romance with the hospital’s Arabic interpreter seems to be evolving into something deeper – but everything is not as it seems. (SFF Catalogue)

Dendy Live Action Short Award

Slapper

Slapper by Luci Schroder – Australia | 2015 – 15 min.

A broke and rebellious teen navigates a suburban wasteland, hustling money for the morning-after pill before it’s too late. (SFF Catalogue)

Yoram Gross Animation Award

The Crossing

The Crossing by Marieka Walsh – Australia | 2016 – 11 min.

In this tender stop-motion fable – created using grains of salt and sand – an ageing sea captain, alone and racked by guilt, finds solace in an unlikely companion. (SFF Catalogue)

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Event Cinemas Australia Short Screenplay Award

Spice Sisters

Spice Sisters by Sheila Jayadev – Australia | 2016 – 15 min.

A former Bollywood star is bored and restless with her life. When a popular reality cooking show announces a call for contestants, she decides it’s now or never to make a change. (SFF Catalogue)

Special Mention

My best friend is stuck on the ceiling
My best friend is stuck on the ceiling by Rouben Mamoulian – Australia | 2015 – 10 min.

Connor, who is secretly smitten with his best friend Rach, gives her an amazing birthday present – something that’s sure to knock her off her feet.

UNESCO Sydney City of Film Award

Lynette Wallworth
Lynette Wallworth is an Australian artist most well known for her use of interactive technologies to create immersive installations. Wallworth’s artworks have been exhibited widely including Lincoln Center NYC, Sundance Film Festival as well as festivals across Europe, Australia and New Zealand. The works are typified as being immersive and often require active participation like moving around the space, handling objects or using touch-based interfaces. Her most recent work was designed to be seen in digital planetariums.

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