New-Zealand script award : Norelle Scott for Uncle's Story
Audience Prize : The Strength of water by Armagan Ballantyne
Nicolas Baudin Prize for best short film :
Somewhere only we know by Jamie Lawrence
Best female new talent :
Marissa Gibson in Samson & Delilah
Best male new talent :
Rowan McNamara in Samson & Delilah
Grand Jury Prize : Samson & Delilah by Warwick Thornton
SAINT-TROPEZ DOWN UNDER 1999-2009
1999-2009, the Rencontres Internationales du Cinéma des Antipodes have survived their first decade thanks to the faithfulness and support of the people of Saint-Tropez who, every year, are willing to embark on a journey to discover the cinema of the South Pacific region and travel to Australia, New Zealand, and sometimes other countries such as Vanuatu, the Marquesas Islands, New Caledonia and even, this year, the South of France thanks to the documentary of Australian filmmaker Jane Oehr. Despite the difficulties, this festival has grown steadily and has developed to include through the years a program geared towards schoolchildren, « Antipodes Junior », a documentary section, a feature film competition, the Nicolas Baudin Prize, awarded by schoolchildren from Provence, as well as the free entry to the screenings, which makes it one of the rare festivals in the world to be entirely free.
Unlike what has been happening elsewhere in the world, Australian and New Zealand cinema has been particularly dynamic and prolific this year. The quality and abundance of films is a unique opportunity to organize unforgettable “encounters” between the artists, the audience, and the industry professionals. This 11th edition of the Rencontres Internationales du Cinéma des Antipodes will rhyme with diversity, uniqueness, harshness, poetry, humour, sensitivity, and wide open spaces.
After a first edition devoted to Australian screenplays, and with the enthusiastic support of the France New Zealand Friendship Fund, this second edition of the Antipodean Screenplay Award, to be announced in Saint-Tropez by a jury headed by Michel Fessler, will focus on New Zealand and will be reciprocated with a French Antipodean Screenplay Award that will be announced by a jury headed by Stuart McKenzie in February 2010 during the opening ceremony of the French Film Festival organised by the French Embassy in Wellington.
The jury of the feature film competition will be headed by the Australian actor Anthony LaPaglia, known for his roles in « The Bank », « Lantana », « Balibo », and « Without a Trace », which has been successfully airing on French television (France 2). Other members of the jury will be Grégory Fitoussi (« Sous le soleil »), actresses Susie Lindeman and Stéphane Audran, as well as Bruno Cras, a journalist for Europe 1. This jury will have the arduous task to choose among six Australian and New Zealand films the Grand Prix des Antipodes (best film) as well as the most promising female and male talents from the Antipodes.
Among the feature films in competition this year, you will discover the puzzling adventure of Australian pioneers in Kriv Stenders’ « Lucky Country », an outstanding film that takes you to the heart of the Australian bush, « The Strength of Water », which made an impression in Sundance, a first feature of great subtlety by New Zealander Armagan Ballantyne, « Accidents Happen », an Australian black comedy by Andrew Lancaster, as well as the romantic and luminous « Belladonna », by Annika Glac. And, finally, the exceptional première of the dark and superb « Samson and Delilah », by Aboriginal filmmaker Warwick Thornton, who was awarded the Caméra d’Or at this year’s Cannes Film Festival.
The festival will also be an opportunity to see Ivan Sen’s new, eagerly-awaited film, « Dreamland », which takes us to the heart of the Nevada desert in a nature defiled by atomic tests, a place of numerous UFO sightings, but which also favours introspection and spiritual awakening. You will also be treated to the exceptional preview screening of John Hillcoat’s « The Proposition », a dark western boasting superb settings and a fine cast (Guy Pearce, John Hurt, Ray Winstone, and Emily Watson), which brings to mind the films of Sam Peckinpah. Another period film, « Van Diemen’s Land » is a fascinating and hypnotic journey into the heart of the Tasmanian forest in the 19th century, an unusual and stark film based on the true story of Alexander Pearce, Australia’s most infamous convict, and you will have a unique opportunity to meet the film’s young and talented director, Jonathan Auf Der Heide. This year, you will also be able to see « 3 Acts of Murder », the incredible story of the life of writer Arthur Upfield (published in French by 10/18), showing that a writer’s genius can sometimes have tragic consequences, Nash Edgerton’s excellent thriller, « The Square», as well as « Return Home », a classic among the classics, introduced by its director Ray Argall. « Lantana », the last screening of the festival, will be a tribute to the jury’s president, Anthony LaPaglia.
Among the films geared towards young audiences: Vincent Ward’s « Rain of the Children », a beautiful New Zealand docudrama, which immerses us in Maori culture. In “September”, set in 1968 against the backdrop of the vast Western Australian wheatfields, the friendship between two teenagers, one white and one Aboriginal, is jeopardized by the political and social changes of the times. “The Strength of Water” tells the story of Kimi and Melody, 10-year old twins torn apart when a stranger arrives in their isolated New Zealand coastal town. As for the younger ones, they will marvel at “The Magic Pudding”, adapted from a classic Australian book, and its lovely koala. For the fourth year, a jury made up of 150 high school students will choose the best short film and award the 8th Nicolas Baudin Prize. These young people benefit from the attendance of a number of industry professionals and a preparation and follow-up to the screenings under their teachers’ supervision.
The numerous documentary films selected this year will be in the spotlight with screenings in the morning as part of « Antipodes Junior », as well as an exceptional tribute to Ian Darling, who will attend the festival (« The Oasis », « In the Company of Actors », « Alone across Australia »). We will also travel to New Caledonia with Gilles Dagneau and his fantastic film about architect Renzo Piano, the genius who designed the Tjibaou Center. As an extension of the exhibitions about the Poles, « Mawson, Life and Death in Antarctica » takes us in the steps of extreme explorers, whereas « Tea with Madame Clos » leads us into the home of a charming old lady living in a small village in the Lot, filmed with a great tenderness by Jane Oehr, who will introduce her film. In the New Zealand film « Trouble is My Business », and the film from the Marquesas Islands « Molière aux Marquises », we will discover two unusual schools from the other ends of the earth. « Sevrapek City » will take us to Vanuatu and « The Burning Season » to Indonesia where an extraordinary young man tackles environmental issues. Finally, the musical touch will be brought to us by Chantal Perrin and her « Graeme Allwright, Pacific Blues ».
The opening night will be a delightful ode to the actors thanks to Toa Fraser’s new feature film, « Dean Spanley », reuniting the great Peter O’Toole (« Lawrence of Arabia »), the elegant Sam Neill (« Jurassic Park »), and the very Australian Bryan Brown (« Australia »). And it is with the première of Jane Campion’s « Bright Star », a masterpiece of poetry and beauty, witnessing the birth of a star, the unforgettable Abbie Cornish (« Candy »), that we will close the festival.
But the festival is not only about films, and you will have the opportunity to discover, in the superb setting of the Tourism Embassy, two new and magical exhibitions devoted to the Poles. Editions Paulsen, who have translated into French the book by Australian explorer Douglas Mawson, will present a superb series of photographs taken by Frank Hurley during the famous 1912 Mawson Antarctica expedition. And it is with the beautiful photos of Dr. Lisa Anderson that we will discover the other Pole, the Arctic.
So do not hesitate to flock to the beautiful Place des Lices, where the very best of Australian and New Zealand cinema awaits you for a week of unforgettable experiences and journeys.
President of Cinéma des Antipodes