Stars of SA screen awards

SA director Sean Lahiff, one of the first Flinders Bachelor (Creative Arts) graduates, scooped the pool at the SA Screen Awards with his internationally recognised short film Smashed.

Sean Lahiff at last year’s Flinders 50 Creatives exhibition at the Adelaide Festival Centre.

The low-budget film, which was well received at the Berlin International Film Festival last year and is set for further screenings this year, took out five awards – Best Short (Michael Clarkin), Best Directing (Sean Lahiff), Best Cinematogrography (Maxx Corkindale), Best Editing (Sean Lahiff) and Best Sound Design (Andrew Graue). Clarkin, Lahiff and scriptwriter Dave Haddin were also behind Too Dark, a companion piece to Smashed, which took out two awards in 2016 (Best Performance and Best Sound Design).

Smashed is described as a coming-of-age story told from the perspective of adolescent males.

Sean Lahiff, one of the Flinders 50 Creatives featured in the University’s 50th anniversary special exhibition of artistic alumni last year, has worked on a range of film project, from Aussie horror cult to Hollywood blockbusters including The Hunger Games, The Great Gatsby, Gravity, Wolf Creek 2 and The Darkness.

Other Flinders graduates were among the winners at this year’s 19th annual SA Screen Awards, including Kirsty Stark for Walter (Best Comedy), which was a runner-up at the 2016 St Kilda Film Festival. Kirsty produced the ABC iView web series Goober, which also was a finalist for Best Web Series, won this year by Alex Keay for Almost Midnight (who also won Best Emerging Producer Almost Midnight featured direction by Stephen Banham from Flinders). Writer-director Stephen Banham also won Best Screenplay for Heaps Good Hostel at the 2016 SA Screen Awards.

The Independent Spirit Award was won by Stephanie Jaclyn, another emerging writer-director and Flinders graduate, in recognition of her web series called Freemales, a six-episode rom-com series made by young women for young women. This award caps a stellar start to the year for Stephanie, who recently won an inaugural Helpmann Fellowship to develop her skills and network in London.

“Across all nominations there was a diverse range of funded and grassroot filmmakers stamping their mark on the industry,” said Gail Kovatseff, director of awards organiser Media Resource Centre.

“For the first time in nearly a decade the Best Feature Film category was populated entirely by no-budget and crowdfunded feature makers, highlighting the arrival of a new generation of self-motivated, independent filmmakers.”

Flinders graduate Paul Froza who won Best Non-Narrative for The Elderly Gentleman.

While filmmakers such as Sean Lahiff, with “vast experience in features in craft roles, have made major step forward as lead creatives in award-winning shorts”, Ms Kovatseff said: “The awards recognised both the changing nature of the industry and the growing breadth of filmmaking in SA, with filmmakers taking up national opportunities while continuing to work locally.”

Among the new faces on the podium were recent Flinders graduate Paul Froza who won Best Non-Narrative for The Elderly Gentleman; producer-director-writer Emily McCallan for Best Documentary Komorebi, producer James Whitrow and director-writer Ben Cluse for Best Drama Postcards from Nowhere, Adam Lemmy for Best Music Video with In Your Fire (Wasted Wanderers) and the Flinders University Best Feature Award was won by Nima Raoofi for Charlotte.

Taking home two awards on the night was yet another Flinders graduate Jeremy Nicholas, winning the Carclew Young Filmmaker of the Year Award and Best Screenplay for Variation On A Theme of Violence. Producer Richard Chataway and director-writer Michael Cusack won Best Animation for Afterall. The pair won the same category in 2013 for Sleight of Hand.

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