Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary at SFF
Mitzi Goldman, Chief Executive of Documentary Australia Foundation (DAF), has commended the partnership between the Foundation and this year’s Sydney Film Festival.
For the first time, in 2014 DAF sponsored the $10,000 Australian Documentary Award won by the film 35 Letters.
“It was a great pleasure to partner with the SFF to offer this award in support of the Australian documentary industry,” Ms Goldman said.
“There’s never been a more critical time than now to create a new paradigm for funding documentaries. People want to see these films, clearly there is a hunger in the audience to see this work, as so many sold out sessions at this festival testify.”
Ms Goldman said that DAF brings philanthropists and filmmakers together to create social change.
“We do this by partnering with the philanthropic and social sector – to not only enable these powerful stories to be told, but also to be seen. Our work doesn’t finish once the film is done. We then work with our partners to achieve their goals through educational and outreach campaigns that bring the stories to new and wider audiences,” she said.
It is important to mention that this year’s films are a particularly strong collection of 10 documentaries, which range across very important, beautiful, sweeping and intimate stories, each one with great strengths in very different styles.
It was not an easy decision. In the end two films came very close, as it happens both films dealing with the universal and very personal subject of death. In very different styles both documentaries were enormously affecting. The judges would like to make special mention of the film Tender as a film that guides us through emotionally loaded territory without succumbing to mawkishness. The director’s achievement in covering multiple personal stories during, often heightened moments, with both sensitivity and humour is singular and done with great skill. The film is authentic, powerful and ultimately, true to its title – Tender.
However there can only be one winner.
The winning documentary is an inventive and deeply moving account of 31 year old Melbourne writer, Angelique Flowers, who is given only months to live, and the different ways in which she, and her family, face her impending death. Unflinchingly, this film shows us Angelique’s desperate search for a way to die with dignity – one made all the more difficult by her parents opposing belief that she should die as God intended, and her sibling’s determination to help her die as she chooses, even though it is against thelaw. Dealing with difficult subject matter that is universal in its urgency and relevance, the film tells a very personal story in an artistic and honest style that delicately balances personal suffering with the larger ethical and moral questions posed by voluntary euthanasia. This is a brave and confronting attempt to bring a subject rarely discussed in Australia back into the public arena.
The winner of the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for best Australian documentary goes to 35 Letters.