The 70th Sydney Film Festival (SFF) has awarded the prestigious Sydney Film Prize to Moroccan filmmaker Asmae El Moudir for her film The Mother of All Lies, an ‘audacious feature that melds fact, fiction and captivating figurines to reveal a hidden history of Morocco’s 1981 Bread Riots’.
The film was selected by an international jury headed by acclaimed director Anurag Kashyap and wins a $60,000 cash prize. The announcement was made at the State Theatre ahead of the Australian Premiere screening of Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny.
‘I didn’t expect this,’ Moudir said at the festival’s closing night ceremony. ‘I just want to call my grandmother now, who made the film with me, and my neighbours, and all the peple in Morocco. It’s 10am there now, and I want to tell them we have just won the prize of Sydney Film Festival. You are the warmest public I have met in my life. I was flying 23 hours, fighting with the jetlag, but I will sleep well now with this prize.’
Other prize winners included Australian filmmakers Derik Lynch and Matthew Thorne, who were awarded the Documentary Australia Award’s $20,000 cash prize for Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black), which follows Lynch, a Yankunytjatjara artist, on a road trip back to Country (Aputula), as memories from his childhood return.
The recipient of the $40,000 Sustainable Future Award, the largest environmental film prize in the world, was Indian director Sarvnik Kaur, for her film Against the Tide, an intimate documentary where two fishermen from Mumbai’s Indigenous Koli community confront the impact of the changing environment.
Five short film prizes were awarded for The Dendy Awards for Australian Short Films. The AFTRS Craft Award for Best Practitioner (a $7,000 cash prize) went to Kalu Oji, Faro Musodza and Makwaya Masudi,screenwriters for What’s In a Name? The inaugural Event Cinemas Rising Talent Award, with a cash prize of $7,000 was awarded to Robyn Liu, lead actor in The Dancing Girl and the Balloon Man.
The $5,000 Yoram Gross Animation Award was awarded to Teacups, directed by Alec Green and Finbar Watson. The $7,000 Dendy Live Action Short Award was awarded to The Dancing Girl and the Balloon Man, directed byDavid Ma. The$7,000 Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director was presented to Sophie Somerville, director of Linda 4 Eva.
SFF Director Nashen Moodley said: ‘This year, we’ve been honoured to spotlight exceptional films from all corners of the globe, with filmmaking styles as varied as the many countries that they came from this year, like the fantastically singular Sydney Film Prize winner The Mother of All Lies.
‘Over these last 12 days we have borne witness to the fervent love Sydney audiences have for films and the talented people who create them. From spirited standing ovations to earnest participation in filmmaker Q&As and requests for a selfie, their passion reaffirms our belief that cinema truly is a universal language, bridging borders and bringing people together.’