Former Flinders student wins Sundance best director award

Sophie Hyde. Photo: Bryan Mason

A movie directed by a former Flinders University student and shot over 52 consecutive Tuesdays in Adelaide has won a major award at the Sundance Film Festival in Utah.

Sophie Hyde, who is one of the founders of Closer Productions, a collective of award-winning filmmakers in Adelaide, was in Utah to receive the best directing award (in world cinema dramatic) for her movie 52 Tuesdays, which tells the story of a 16-year-old girl dealing with her mother’s decision to change gender.

Ms Hyde works at Closer Productions alongside four other former Flinders University students: Rebecca Summerton, Matthew Bate, Matthew Cormack and Bryan Mason. Several of the production team and actors behind 52 Tuesdays were with her when she received the award.

Closer Productions has created entertaining and provocative documentary, drama and experimental films for cinema, TV, art galleries and major festivals around the world. The team had previous Sundance success in 2010, when Matthew Bate’s Shut up Little Man was shown.

In an interview with Filmmaker magazine, Ms Hyde said the unusual approach of shooting one day a week for a year was an attempt to explore different methods of film-making.

She also told Filmmaker she was particularly interested in how society presents young women. “I wanted a story that felt like it came from the characters (and particularly 16-year-old Billie) and I wanted to explore sexuality in young people without it being ‘for’ us to view,” she said.

Actors Tilda Cobham-Hervey and
Del Herbert-Jane. Photo: Bryan Mason

Dr Alison Wotherspoon, Head of Screen and Media at Flinders University, said Ms Hyde’s award was a great achievement and that it was fantastic to see former Flinders screen production students doing so well on the national and international stage.

“We’re incredibly proud of Sophie and our alumni at Closer Productions,” Dr Wotherspoon said. “Sophie’s award is particularly significant because for a young, female Australian director to have this kind of international recognition is inspiring for all other female filmmakers.”

Dr Wotherspoon said that the success of Closer Productions’ 52 Tuesdays showed it was possible for Australian film makers to be bold and tackle more complex emotional and social issues.

“Closer are known for successfully exploring issues and telling stories that are often not seen in mainstream Australian cinema because they’re not perceived as commercially viable,” she said.

“The success at Sundance of a film that was shot on one day a week over 52 consecutive weeks is a great example of how creativity and innovation can make this possible.

“The business model underpinning Closer Productions shows that when you get the right mix of intelligent, creative people together, it’s possible to achieve great things in an ethical way on small budgets.”

Ms Hyde is traveling directly from Utah to Germany for the Berlin International Film Festival (Berlinale), which will run from 6-16 February.

Credits for 52 Tuesdays: Director, Sophie Hyde; Story, Matthew Cormack and Sophie Hyde; Screenplay, Matthew Cormack; Producers, Bryan Mason, Matthew Cormack, Rebecca Summerton and Sophie Hyde; Cinematographer, Bryan Mason; Production Designer, Sophie Hyde; Editor, Bryan Mason; Composer, Benjamin Speed.

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