July 1, 2010
By Nazir Keshvani
At the Sydney Film Festival2010, a number ofdocumentaries were in therunning for this year’s FOXTELAustralian Documentary Prize, butthe prize went to The Snowman,directed by Juliet Lamont andproduced by Rachel Landers andDylan Blowen. The Snowman is a poignant storyabout the filmmaker’s searchfor the truth behind her father’smental collapse following a trip toAntarctica 30 years ago. The fi lm isa moving, memorable and inspiringfilm about the spirit of endurance inthe face of loss. The production was praised for theexceptional craft employed in itscamera work, animation and overallcomposition. The award came witha cash prize of A$10,000 sponsoredby broadcaster FOXTEL. The selection of documentariesat the Sydney Film Festival2010 proved to be a hit withscreenings sold out all for a rangeof productions of varying themes.The subjects explored include thedeviant life of a street artist in ExitThrough the Gift Shop, the arduousprocess of staging a full seasonof world class ballet in La Danse:Paris Opera Ballet and the price ofcapitalism and industry in Last Train Home. Award Winners The festival handed out the 2010Dendy Awards for Australian ShortFilms with the award for BestLive Action Short going to TheKiss directed by Ashlee Page andproduced by Sonya Humphrey. The winner of the RoubenMamoulian Award for Best Directorwent to Deeper Than Yesterday,directed by Ariel Kleiman andproduced by Anna Kojevnikov,Benjamin Gilovitz and SarahCyngler. The Yoram Gross Animation Awardwent to The Lost Thing, directed byShaun Tan and Andrew Ruhemann,and produced by Sophie Byrne. Taika Waititi’s coming-of-age film,Boy, which has already broken NewZealand box office records; andAustralian director Adam Blaiklock’ssuspenseful debut feature, CaughtInside, emerged as winners of theShowtime Movie Channels AudienceAwards. The Most Dangerous Man inAmerica: Daniel Ellsberg and thePentagon Papers, directed by JudithEhrlich; and Bill CunninghamNew York, the portrait of the NewYork Times photojournalist, jointlywon the audience vote for BestDocumentary. Rounding off the award list is thefeature film Heartbeats directedby French-Canadian Xavier Dolan,which was chosen the winner of the2010 Sydney Film Prize. Screening direct from Un CertainRegard at the 63rd Cannes FilmFestival and making its Australianpremiere at the festival, Heartbeatsis written, produced and directed byDolan, and co-produced by DanielMorin and Carole Mondello. The jury also gave honourablementions to two films: How IEnded This Summer and Wastedon the Young. Australian producerJap Chapman, Hong Kong directorYonfan, Australian director ShirleyBarrett, Sundance Film Festivaldirector John Cooper and Britishdirector Lucy Walker formed thejury panel. Meanwhile, the SydneyFilm Festival Industry ConferenceDay 2010 closed with a paneldiscussion entitled InternationalFilm Festival Marketing. The panel featured John Cooper,director of the Sundance FilmFestival; Kathleen Drumm, headof marketing at Screen Australia;Ashley Luke, director of CreativePartnerships at Screen NSW andClare Stewart, festival directorof the Sydney Film Festival. Thepanel discussion centred on how tomarket a film to be included in aninternational film festival and howto promote it during a festival. Luke, a former sales agent, advisedfilmmakers to do thoroughbackground research whenapproached by a sales agent todetermine if they were right for thefi lm before signing on. “Work verystrongly with your sales agent whenmarketing your film,” he told theaudience. Another significant point raisedwas the importance of using goodphotograph to market a film. “Getgood photos… dramatic photos thatrepresent the film,” Cooper advised. All four panellists remarked they had been surprised at some of the photographs they received from budding filmmakers. “Think about where your photo is ending up,” Stewart added. Many in the audience weresurprised that several internationalfestivals would only programme afi lm if screened as a world premiere.Stewart, however, deconstructedthis myth, suggesting that if afestival regarded a film highly,it would be included in theprogramme regardless of ‘worldpremiere’ status. When asked how newcomers tothe festival circuit should projectthemselves at a film festival wheretheir film is playing, Cooper said, “The most important thing is beyourself. We’re (festival directors)vampires, we want fresh blood”.The Sydney Film Festival ran for twoweeks, ending on 14 June, screeninga selection of films from all overthe world that ran the gamutfrom cutting edge filmmakingand nostalgia films; to drama andcomedy, horror and children’sfantasy.