(l-r) Jurors Judy Davis, Lexus' Adrian Weimers and SFF director Nashen Moodley.
The winners of the inaugural Lexus Short Film Fellowship were announced last night at the Sydney Film Festival, with jury chair Judy Davis touting the promise of the next generation of Aussie filmmakers.
The four winners will receive $50,000 each to make a short.
They are Anya Beyersdorf, Alex Ryan, Brooke Goldfinch and Alex Murawski, who were chosen from a shortlist of 21 filmmakers, whittled down to four by Davis, SFF director Nashen Moodley, Lexus Australia's Adrian Weimers, Jan Chapman and Darren Dale.
"We spent the day in a big office in Sydney", Davis told IF.
"I just found it very impressive that a writer can distill what they're saying, then communicate it effectively in ten or twelve minutes and, at times, achieve great complexity", Davis said.
"That really impressed me, and I felt very privileged to be able to read them, because normally I would never get to read a short film script. I've never been offered a short film."
The even gender split of the winners was an accident, Davis said.
"At the end of the process, one of the other jurors said, this is good because it's looking like two [men], two [women]. And I'll be honest, for me, it wouldn't make any difference."
"I would just pick the four I thought were the best. If it had ended up being four men, I might have gone: oops. But still you've got to choose the four best. In this particular case, the two scripts that the women wrote are beautiful. It was not a painful decision."
The four films tendered by the winners will premiere at next year's SFF, with a maximum length of fifteen minutes.
UTS and AFTRS grad Alex Ryan is making a short loosely inspired by the story of Brazilian student Roberto Curti, who was tasered by police and died in 2012, while Goldfinch's film is "a sci-fi thriller set in Woolongong with a female protagonist".
AFTRS grad Murawski aims to make a film "about a boy who leaves his friend behind after an accident and has to deal with the guilt of that situation".
"It centers on grief and separation and the end of childhood", Murawski said. "It's called Snow."
Titled How the Light Gets In, Beyersdorf's short will reunite the team behind her previous film Vampir.
The idea for the film, "a meditation on terminal illness in a close-knit family", came to the director in the middle of the night.
"I woke up one night and thought, imagine if my fingers and hands were glowing. And I thought, what if there was a way you could represent an illness not as an illness but as this beautiful glow that's threatening to envelope you. So that's the crazy idea I had, and I wrote it for this very quickly."
Davis announced the four winners before a screening of Damian Walshe-Howling's MESSiAH, one of four winners of the International Lexus Short Films initiative.