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Nicholas Winding Refn’s high-octane cabaret, Bronson, with Tom Hardy in a career-defining performance as Britain’s most notorious criminal Charles Bronson, has won the $60,000 cash and the Sydney Film Prize trophy at this year’s Sydney Film Festival. And Foxtel doubles its cash commitment to $20,000 for the joint winners of the inaugural documentary prize, Contact and A Good Man.

“The film that has been selected by the jury of the Sydney Film Prize as best demonstrating the competition’s criteria of emotional power and resonance,
audacity, cutting-edge, courage and going beyond the usual treatment of its subject matter is Bronson,” said Rolf de Heer, Jury President, announcing the winner at the closing night ceremony on Sunday June 14, prior to the screening of Lone Scherfig’s An Education. (Lone Scherfig’s highly entertaining film, based on a memoir adapted by Nick Hornby, has plenty to say and some great performances.)

Bronson is underscored by an explosive soundtrack and with the heightened use of visual and sound design, Refn and Brock Norman Brock’s audacious script delivers a daring biography.

"bold, risk-taking filmmaking"

“In its second year the Official Competition has further elevated the profile of bold, risk-taking filmmaking and the festival is very grateful to the jury for their
dynamism and care in determining the winner of the prize this year”, said Festival Director Clare Stewart.

According to Hunter Hall Investment Management’s board member Jack Lowenstein, “This is Hunter Hall’s fourth year of association with the Sydney Film Festival and the second year we have funded the Sydney Film Prize. This prize is about audacious, cutting edge and courageous filmmaking and we are delighted to share in this vision as we feel there is significant shared territory between how these filmmakers approach their subject and how we apply these values at Hunter Hall to the global sharemarket.”

“The response of the people of Sydney to the 2009 Festival has been overwhelmingly positive, “ said CEO Mark Sarfarty. “A shorter festival (12 days) has clearly struck the right chord with the audience, with a total of 85 sellout sessions including seven sell-outs at the State Theatre representing an increase of 35% on 2008.”

In an unexpected outcome, the first FOXTEL Australian Documentary Prize has been awarded to two separate films. When the documentary prize jury led by eminent TV journalist George Negus, announced that Contact and A Good Man were films of equally high caliber, FOXTEL CEO Kim Williams rose to the occasion by doubling the prize money with $10,000 going to each film.

Contact is written, directed and produced by Bentley Dean and Martin Butler – in 1964 Yuwali was 17 when her first contact with whitefellas was filmed. Now 62 she tells the story behind this extraordinary footage. A Good Man, directed by Safina Uberoi and produced by Himman Dhamija, Safina Uberoi and Jenny Day, tells of a struggling Australian farmer, his wife who is quadriplegic, and their plans to open a brothel.

“Contact and A Good Man are both representative of the finest storytelling in Australian documentary filmmaking. Apart from being equally engaging films these documentaries were so very different from one another that the judges were unable to decide on a sole winner. One was a compelling indigenous story of national significance the other a human story of huge heart told with candour and humour. Together, Contact and A Good Man embody the amazing new breadth of subject matter and style of Australian documentary making” said the jury.

“FOXTEL is delighted to sponsor this inaugural Australian Documentary prize and to have the opportunity to celebrate fine documentary filmmaking as part of the Sydney Film Festival” said Malcolm Smith of FOXTEL in announcing the cash increase.

Winner of the Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Overall Short is The Ground Beneath directed by Rene Hernandez and produced by Kristina Ceyton.

Winner of the 2009 Dendy Award Best Live Action Short is Miracle Fish directed by Luke Doolan and produced by Drew Bailey.

Winner of the 2009 Yoram Gross Animation Award is The Cat Piano directed by Eddie White and Ari Gibson and produced by Jessica Brentnall.

“Yoram and I were delighted with the quality of all the films and were so impressed with the variety and originality of styles presented, a showcase of the best in Australian animation worthy of international acclaim. We are thrilled to support the emergence of great talent in our Australian animation industry and congratulate this year’s winner of the Yoram Gross Animation Award” said Sandra Gross, Yoram Gross Films.

"inaugural year"

“The Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award is in its inaugural year and we are delighted to have such a deserving winner Michela Ledwidge. The jury has acknowledged Michela who is an Australian film-maker and pioneer in digital storytelling influenced by the video game MOD paradigm and live performance. Her work has been presented internationally and is regularly cited in film and media studies courses” said the jury.

“Michaela Ledwidge, like Peter was, is an artist whose work in film and new media embodies a visionary spirit and a determination to create high quality works for the screen. Michaela is working on the cutting edge and we hope this award will encourage and support her in completing her groundbreaking re-mixable project Sanctuary” said the jury on presenting the award.

Winner of the 2009 CRC Award is Missing Water directed and produced by Khoa Do, sponsored by the Community Relations Commission For a multicultural NSW.

"extra $5million"

After handing out close to $100,000 in prize money, the Festival also offered a platform for NSW Premier Nathan Rees to announce an extra $5 million in production funding money to the state’s screen agency, Screen NSW (officially renamed from NSW Film & TV Office).

Published June 15, 2009

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A Good Man


Cat Piano

Missing Water

Khoa Do and Minister for Citizenship Virginia Judge

The 12 Official Competition films:
Rachel Ward’s Beautiful Kate and Khoa Do’s Missing Water; Tsai Ming-liang’s Face (Visages); Ken Loach’s Looking for Eric; Sebastián Silvia’s The Maid (La Nana); Steve Jacobs’ Disgrace; Peter Brosens and Jessica Hope’s Antiplano; Nicholas Winding Refn’s Bronson; Gustave de Kervern and Benoit Delépine’s Louise-Michel; Alexey German Jr’s Paper Soldier (Bumazhnyy Soldat); Henry Selick’s Coraline, and Steven Soderbergh’s The Girlfriend Experience.

The Jury:
Jury President Rolf de Heer, German director Oliver Hirschbiegel, Canadian
director/producer Ted Kotcheff, Australian actress Miranda Otto and Danish
director Lone Scherfig.

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