Melbourne International Film Festival announces 2019 Audience Awards winners
With 41,107 votes registered, Adam Goodes and Stan Grant’s incredibly moving film The Australian Dream has taken out the Audience Award for Documentary Feature, after receiving an eight-minute standing ovation at MIFF’s Opening Night Gala, while Celine Sciamma’s incandescent period romance Portrait of a Lady on Fire won the award for best narrative feature.
Written by Walkley award-winning Australian journalist Grant, critics have called The Australian Dream the most important film of 2019. Directed by Daniel Gordon, The Australian Dream explores race, identity and belonging as told from the perspective of champion AFL footballer and Indigenous rights activist, Adam Goodes.
Winner of Best Screenplay and the Queer Palm at this year’s Cannes, Céline Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire depicts a romance between a painter and her subject. Working from a deceptively simple narrative, Sciamma tightens the emotional screws with devastating precision as she explores her characters’ emotionally overwhelming relationship with heartbreaking clarity.
Premiere Fund Film titles:
Voted second-most popular narrative title was MIFF Accelerator Lab alumni director John Sheedy’s debut feature H Is for Happiness, which was supported by the MIFF Premiere Fund. The Premiere Fund had a record three films in the Audience Awards with fellow Accelerator Lab alumus director Rodd Rathjen’s Buoyancy also placing in the top-ten narrative favourites, while Hylton Shaw and Samantha Dinning’s No Time for Quiet was voted amongst the most popular feature documentaries.
While nine Australian films made the short list, our antipodean neighbours took out second and third place in the documentary category, with Heperi Mita’s Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen and Vea Mafile’o’s For My Father’s Kingdom, receiving second and third place respectively. Third-placed narrative feature was Vai – eight female Pacific Islander’s ode to femininity by directors Amberley Jo Aumua, Becs Arahanga, Dianna Fuemana, Marina Alofagia McCartney, Matasila Freshwater, Mirria George, Nicole Whippy and Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki.
“The people have spoken! Massive congratulations to the lauded crowd-pleasers of MIFF 2019,” said MIFF Artistic Director, Al Cossar. “We are so pleased in particular to see so many stories from Australia and the South Pacific in this list resonating with MIFF-goers this year – our particular congratulations go to the whole team behind MIFF Opening Night film The Australian Dream as our Documentary Audience Award Winner – an urgent, accomplished film, a landmark documentary that has really made a mark here at the festival, and I’m sure will continue from success to success.”
MIFF is about to hit the road with the Travelling Film Showcase which gets underway next week with Bendigo and Geelong on 30 August – the first of eight locations across regional Victoria to experience some of this year’s festival favourites, including the record slate of seven MIFF Premiere Fund-supported films, on the big screen. Find out what’s playing in each town at miff.com.au/travelling
THE 2019 MIFF AUDIENCE AWARDS TOP 10 FEATURE FILMS AND DOCUMENTARIES AS FOLLOWS:
1. The Australian Dream (Australia/UK) – dir. Daniel Gordon
2. Merata: How Mum Decolonised the Screen (NZ) – dir. Heperi Mita
3. For My Father’s Kingdom (NZ) – dir. Vea Mafile’o
4. For Sama (Syria / UK) – dir. Edward Watts, Waleed al-Kateab
4. No Time for Quiet (Aus) – dir. Hylton Shaw, Samantha Dinning
6. Martha: A Picture Story (Aus / USA) – dir. Selina Miles
7. Collingwood: From the Inside Out (Aus) – dir. Josh Cable, Marcus Cobbledick
8. In My Blood It Runs (Aus) – dir. Maya Newell
9. Seahorse (UK / Spain) – dir. Jeanie Finlay
10. 5B (USA) – dir. Dan Krauss, Paul Haggis
1. Portrait of a Lady on Fire (France) – dir. Céline Sciamma
2. H is for Happiness (Aus) – dir. John Sheedy
3. Vai (NZ) – dir. Amberley Jo Aumua, Becs Arahanga, Dianna Fuemana, Marina Alofagia McCartney, Matasila Freshwater, Mirria George, Nicole Whippy, Ofa-Ki-Levuka Guttenbeil-Likiliki
4. Bellbird (NZ) – dir. Hamish Bennett
5. Buoyancy (Aus) – dir. Rodd Rathjen
6. Kairos (Aus) – dir. Paul Barakat
7. And Then We Danced (France/Georgia/Sweden) – dir. Levan Akin
8. La Flor (Argentina) – dir. Mariano Llinás
8. Adam (France / Morocco) – dir. Maryam Touzani
8. Hearts and Bones (Aus) – dir. Ben Lawrence