It was quite…” Rosemary Myers trails off. “You saw me on the stage – I was quite literally speechless.”
And understandably so. It’s not every day your feature debut wins $100,000. Appropriately for a film set partly in a surreal dreamscape, the shock of taking home the CinefestOz Prize made the rest of the night seem quite dreamlike for Myers and her fellow guest at the festival, screenwriter and actor Matthew Whittet.
“It really came out of left of field and we didn’t expect it at all.” Myers continues. “We were all just flattered to be there and we were hanging out, having an amazing time with the other filmmakers and when the announcement came we hadn’t even thought about it. People were asking us, ‘What are you going to spend the money on?’ but we hadn’t even dared to go there, to even imagine it, in our minds! It was quite amazing.”
And quite a boost. A win of this magnitude opens plenty of doors for a small film that might otherwise have had difficulty finding a niche in the crowded Australian market, which is too often unkind to quirky local product. “We’ve decided to put quite a bit of the money back into raising the P&A [publicity and advertising]. Also, winning the Melbourne International Film Festival Critic’s Choice – all those things help to get more cinemas on board. It’s not easy for an independent film to get on in the cinemas, even, so all this has really helped it. Strangely enough, we’ve had a lot of traction with the film internationally. We opened the film at the Berlinale Film Festival and we’ve been touring it around the world, it’s going to be released in America in a fortnight as well [via Adam Yauch’s Oscilloscope] but actually getting it into Australian cinemas was really hard. So these things have really, really helped. Winning CinefestOZ was just amazing.”
Girl Asleep is in cinemas from September 8.