The Rocket wins best debut feature film at Berlin Film Festival

17 February, 2013 by Brendan Swift

Australian film The Rocket has won the Best First Feature Award and Best Feature in the children's-focused Generation Kplus program at the Berlin International Film Festival.

The film, about a boy in Laos who builds a giant rocket to enter the Rocket Festival, was up against entrants from several sections including Competition, Panorama, Forum, Generation and Perspektive Deutsches Kino. Director Kim Mordaunt and producer Sylvia Wilczynski shared the €50,000 prize ($64,851).


The film was also awarded the Crystal Bear for the Best Film in the Generation Kplus section (which is devoted to young people) and the Amnesty International Film Prize. (View The Rocket trailer here.)

Short film The Amber Amulet also picked up a Crystal Bear award in the Generation Kplus section for the Best Short Film while indigenous feature Satellite Boy received a Special Mention from both the Generation Kplus children’s and international juries.

"An exciting film, shot in magnificent country and with really great music," the Generation Kplus children's jury said of Satellite Boy. "It gave us a better understanding of the culture of the Aboriginal people in Australia. The film impressed us, especially the excellent acting performances of the two young actors."

Satellite Boy had its world premiere at the Toronto Film Festival last September. The film marks Catriona McKenzie's directorial feature debut and follows a young boy, Pete, as he attempts to save his home and ultimately himself. (View the Satellite Boy trailer here.)

The Amber Amulet marks the fourth consecutive year that an Australian film has been awarded the Crystal Bear for Best Short Film. Matthew Moore also won the same award in 2012 for his short Julian.

In a statement announcing the awards, Screen Australia head of marketing, Kathleen Drumm, said: “Recognition at an event like Berlin is a tremendous vote of confidence in Australia’s emerging filmmaking talent. We look forward to Australian audiences having the opportunity to see The Rocket and Satellite Boy when they are released in cinemas later this year.”

Screen Australia supported The Rocket, Satellite Boy and The Amber Amulet filmmakers to attend the Berlin International Film Festival.

Pauline Phayvanh Phoumindr, Kim Mordaunt and Sylvia Wilczynski.

Synopsis: A boy who is believed to bring bad luck leads his family and a couple of ragged misfits through Laos to find a new home. After a calamity-filled journey through a land scarred by war, to prove he’s not cursed he builds a giant rocket to enter the most lucrative but dangerous competition of the year: the Rocket Festival.
Production Company: Red Lamp Films Pty Ltd
Producer: Sylvia Wilczynski
Executive Producers: Bridget Ikin, Triphet Rookachat, Michael Wrenn
Associate Producer: Pauline Phayvanh Phoumindr
Writer/Director: Kim Mordaunt
Cast: Sitthiphon Disamoe, Loungnam Kaosainam, Thep Phongam
International Sales: LevelK ApS
Australian Distributor: Curious Film

Synopsis: Pete is 10 years old and lives in the outback with his grandfather in an old abandoned outdoor cinema. When his home is threatened by developers, Pete travels to the city with his best friend Kalmain to try and save his home.
Production Company: Satellite Films
Producers: David Jowsey, Julie Ryan
Writer/Director: Catriona McKenzie
Cast: David Gulpilil, Cameron Wallaby
International Sales: Celluloid Dreams
Australian Distributor: Hopscotch eOne Films

Synopsis: This is the story of a superhero, a beagle, an amulet made of amber, and the potential that is locked inside all of us.
Production Companies: Goalpost Pictures, Year of the Rabbit Films
Writers: Matthew Moore, Genevieve Hegney (Adapted from the novella by Craig Silvey)
Director: Matthew Moore
Producers: Lauren Edwards, Genevieve Hegney, Matthew Moore
Cast: Ed Oxenbould, Genevieve Hegney, Eliza Logan