Melbourne Film Festival 2022: ‘Neptune Frost, ‘Sweet As’ Win
After 18 days of in-person screenings, over 370 films and the launch of a new prize fund totaling A$210,000 (approx. US$145,000), the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF) must be one of the longest, busiest and now most lucrative film festivals in the world. The winning films were announced at the closing gala on Saturday night, with the Afrofuturistic sci-fi musical “Neptune Frost”, a US-Rwandan co-production directed by Saul Williams and Anisia Uzeyman, taking home the A$140,000 Bright Horizons grand prize ( $100,000) received. . Jub Clerc, the Indigenous Australian director of the coming-of-age road movie Sweet As, won the A$70,000 ($45,000) Blackmagic Design Australian Innovation Award.
This is the first year of the Bright Horizons competition. After being selected from an exceptionally strong selection of 11 films, including festival favorites such as Charlotte Wells’ ‘Aftersun’, Laura Wandel’s ‘Playground’ and Natalia López Gallardo’s ‘Robe of Gems’, Williams and Uzeyman were visibly moved when they accepted the prize via zooming.
“It was a film that we put our hearts into making and we’re so thrilled that it touched you,” they said. The debut film was praised by the jury, consisting of Australian filmmakers Shareena Clanton and Lynette Wallworth, alongside cinematographer Adam Arkapaw and Indonesian writer-director Mouly Surya, for “penetrating deep into the heart and soul” by winning “the… colonial gaze and the increasing impact of technology on all of our lives.”
Also making its debut, the Blackmagic Design Australian Innovation Competition was created to recognize and inspire emerging Australian film talent, whatever their field. In addition to Clerc, five film creatives were nominated: two other directors, a writing team, a production designer, and an editor. Clerc accepted her award for directing “Sweet As” onstage in the presence of many of her collaborators, saying, “This isn’t my film, but it is our film,” before joking, “Of course not the prize money, that’s all mine.” She went on to mention her indigenous heritage, “Storytelling is in our blood. We never had a written language; we’ve all sung, danced and painted our stories, and now we have a new medium,” she said, gesturing to the screen behind her. Her comments were echoed in the jury’s statement, which highlighted how Clerc’s film “shows the resilience and beauty of indigenous women.”
Speak with diversity As the marathon festival crossed the finish line, an “exhausted and elated” Al Cossar, MIFF Artistic Director, was delighted with the results, which are emblematic of the new competition’s mission to nurture emerging talent.
“MIFF is a huge program,” he said. “But one of the main motivations for us is building that sense of total discovery. I think this space reinforces that mentality.”
Cossar also mentioned the specific challenges of MIFF running in physical form for the first time since Melbourne emerged from one of the longest and toughest lockdown periods in the world.
“We feel that we have not weathered COVID but will live with it for years to come… It’s a big step in the right direction this year – to be back in the world – but to be returning to this full scope of audiences.” will be incremental for a while.”
But Cossar is optimistic. “We have a very determined, adaptive mindset at this point,” he continued. “Certainly [the pandemic] has prompted us to look in the mirror and ask fundamental questions…that will help expand MIFF’s own access and inclusivity in ways that are much broader than a response to COVID.”
This year’s innovations, particularly the lavish prize fund, aim to raise MIFF’s international profile, but the festival is also looking to strengthen its regional roots. Philippa Hawker, a cornerstone of the Melbourne critic landscape who writes for The Age, The Saturday Paper and Senses of Cinema and was part of the 2022 MIFF Critics Campus alongside international mentor Jessica Kiang diversityThe Hollywood Reporter’s Jourdain Searles and Mubi’s Danny Kasman said: “It’s good to have a shiny new award for young filmmakers, especially one as lucrative as this one.” But above all she wanted to highlight the local aspects of MIFF 2022 adding, “At the 70th edition of the festival, it was so good to see a program of significant and sometimes unpredictable examples of filmmaking from the city’s past.”
As the festival continues for another week in online format, hopefully more attendees from near and far will be able to enjoy a highly flexible program that spans the local, the global and everything in between.
https://variety.com/2022/global/global/melbourne-international-film-festival-winners-2022-1235346371/ Melbourne Film Festival 2022: ‘Neptune Frost, ‘Sweet As’ Win