Island of the Hungry Ghosts, a powerful and insightful film examining the plight of asylum-seekers trying to reach Australia, has been awarded the $10,000 Flinders University Feature Documentary Competition at the 2018 Adelaide Film Festival.
Set on Christmas Island, the Australian territory off the coast of Indonesia, the film looks at island life, focusing on Poh Lin Lee – a community trauma counsellor at the island’s detention centre – and her husband and two daughters.
Directed by Gabrielle Brady, the feature-length documentary filmed over four years as an Australian, UK and German co-production, was described by the judges as “a poignant, poetic film that seeks to awaken the humanity of the audience”.
“This courageous film is lyrical and layered, creating a cinematic experience that is deeply atmospheric and awakens the gravity of an important national issue,” the jury said.
Flinders University College of Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Screen and Media senior lecturer Associate Professor Alison Wotherspoon presented the award.
The jury of award-winning filmmakers included lawyer and writer Larissa Behrendt (After the Apology), award winning editor Tania Nehme (Oscar nominated Tanna, Ten Canoes) and accomplished writer, producer and director Madeleine Parry (Nanette).
Chris the Swiss received a special mention and the eight other films in Feature Documentary Competition were Erick Stoll and Chase Whiteside’s América, Hans Block and Moritz Riesewieck’s The Cleaners, Mark Cousins’ The Eyes of Orsen Wells, Luiz Bolognesi’s Ex Sharman, Lauren Greenfield’s Generation Wealth, Genevieve Bailey’s Happy Sad Man, Vitaly Mansky’s Putin’s Witnesses and Daniel Zimmermann’s Waldon.
The Seen and Unseen, directed by Kamila Andini, won the 2018 UniSA Feature Fiction Competition (this will screen on Saturday 20 October at 2.30pm at the Mercury Cinema) and Australia’s The Unknown Patient, won the 2018 AFTRS Virtual Reality Competition.
The inaugural Lottie Lyell Award and prize of $20,000 was presented to Prisoners and Pups creator Shalom Almond, to develop her bold new multi-faceted, multi-platform project, Through Prisoner Eyes.
Through Prisoner Eyes – involving camera work support by Flinders University Creative and Performing Arts lecturer Helen Carter – is an Australian first program in which a small group of women prisoners learn photography as a way to tell their stories of life on the inside and beyond.
In addition to running the program, a documentary will be made during the process.
“I feel so honoured to become the first recipient of the SAFC Lottie Lyell Award – not only to carry on her legacy to create bold and ambitious screen work in South Australia, but to be given the opportunity to develop a documentary project with our state’s most vulnerable and disempowered women to give them a positive voice,” Ms Almond said.
The new award was launched to commemorate Lottie Lyell’s trail-blazing impact on the Australian film industry, 100 years after she and Raymond Longford established South Australia’s first production company.
The ADL Film Fest’s Don Dunstan Award was presented to another Australian screen pioneer Freda Glynn AM and her family at the world premiere of She Who Must Be Loved, the documentary of her incredible life story produced by her daughter Erica Glynn and granddaughter Tanith Glynn Maloney, and directed by Erica Glynn.
This year’s film festival opened with the Australian premiere of Hotel Mumbai, directed by Flinders University alumnus Anthony Maras and starring Armie Hammer, Dev Patel, Nazanin Bonaidi and Tilda Cobham-Hervey. Hotel Mumbai tells the astonishing story of those trapped in the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in the 2008 terror attacks. Video below courtesy Screen Australia.