Press Release from Craig Irvin

This year’s Sydney film festival’s Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director went to Craig Irvin for the film, “Tethered”.

Craig Irvin, director-screenwriter of Tethered, says the timing of his short film release has been interesting, just as the growing controversy with Australia’s cattle exports industry has exploded.

“There’s certainly some alignment with this film which is set in an abattoir – at times confronting the viewer, but with purpose. The film relies on that grit to help highlight the harsh reality that the character faces in his process of growing up, when his heroes suddenly fail and he finds he’s alone, needing to find his own way to adulthood in spite of the disappointments around him.”

Tethered’s central character, Tobin (Steven Fleming), is 17 and alone in a new town. It's the first day of his new job at the local abattoir. In this macho, visceral environment the teen is humiliated by his workmates (John Brumpton and Richard Cawthorne). If he wants to belong he must learn to destroy.

“The film confronts the viewer with the grim truth of a slaughterhouse; the way our meat is processed and domination of man over beast. We shy away from this because we don’t want to face facts about how our meat is processed to end up on our plate. The vulnerability of this boy is juxtaposed with a harsh, masculine environment as both he, and the viewer, struggle to come to terms with their responsibility.

“While there have been some walkouts and people feeling divided about the content, we didn't harm animals to make the film, we just used the cameras to capture what actually happens.

“Making a film is a very intimate and challenging experience. Any acknowledgment is amazing, and this accolade of Best Director is an incredible honour,” says Mr Irvin.

In awarding the prize the for Best Director, the Jury stated that "Tethered, while dealing with dark and confronting material, showed the emergence of a significant new Aussie talent in Craig Irvin."

Festival Director Clare Stewart says, “the Dendy Awards celebrate the creativity of the short form and recognise that short films provide a significant development pathway for our filmmakers.

“These awards are Academy Award® eligible and we are thrilled that last year’s winner of the Yoram Gross Animation Award, The Lost Thing, went on to win an Oscar® this year”, she said.

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