Greek film Alps wins $60,000 Sydney Film Prize

18 June, 2012 by Sandy George

Alps, an offbeat film directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, has won the fifth $60,000 Sydney Film Prize, which is billed as being for films that are courageous, audacious and cutting-edge.

Lanthimos’s follow-up to Cannes Un Certain Regard winner Dogtooth, is about a group of people who operate a business replacing the recently deceased for the sake of those left behind.


Alps melds pathos, black humour and taut menace in a film that is at once challenging and highly rewarding,” said jury chair, the Sydney-based director and actor Rachel Ward. “A finely calibrated, absurdist study of power and identity, Alps is intelligent, uniquely emotive filmmaking from an important new voice in Greek cinema."

The decision was announced to the media and festival guests yesterday afternoon at the Cruise Bar at the Overseas Passenger Terminal overlooking the harbour. To the Sydney Film Festival closing night crowd at the State Theatre a few hours later, Ward said that making judgements about films was subjective and so many of the films had reasons for winning. (Indeed, the biggest competition crowd pleaser appeared to be Beasts of the Southern Wild).

The competition has become a key programming focus of the Sydney Film Festival and must take some credit for ticket sales and box office grosses reaching record levels this year, although official figures from festival director Nashen Moodley’s first Sydney Film Festival won’t be released for a day or two.

Four Australian short films were presented with awards before Colin Trevorrow amused the crowd, first with his introduction then with his film, the quirky US indie comedy Safety Not Guaranteed.

Cannes competition film Yardbird, directed by Michael Spiccia and produced by Jessica Mitchell, won the Dendy Award for best live action short. It is about a young girl who takes on the local bullies when they turn up to torment her father.

Dumpy Goes to the Big Smoke won The Rouben Mamoulian Award while Killing Anna, the shortest film in the documentary line-up, won the FOXTEL Prize. Dumpy was written and directed by Mirrah Foulkes and produced by David Michod and Michael Cody, and Anna was directed, written and produced by Adelaide filmmaker Paul Gallasch while living in the US, and was sparked by his girlfriend breaking up with him.

Veteran animator Yoram Gross performed some crowd-pleasing antics before announcing that the animation award that honours him was this year going to The Maker, which features a strange creature with buck teeth and was written and directed by Christopher Kezelos, and produced by he and Christine Kezelos.

Earlier in the day all the short film winners took part in a discussion at the Sydney Film Festival Hub, the event’s very successful social centre, situated under the Sydney Town Hall for the first time.