The Rocket wins the popular vote
Writer-director Kim Mordaunt’s debut film The Rocket was voted best narrative feature at the Sydney Film Festival in the Foxtel Movie Channels Audience Awards.
The award is a propitious sign in the lead-up to the Lao-set film’s premiere on August 29. Sitthiphon Disamoe stars as Ahlo, a boy who enters a rocket festival competition to help save his poverty-stricken family after they are uprooted by the construction of a hydro-electric dam.
The gong for most popular documentary went to The Crossing, director Julian Harvey’s account of two young Aussies, Clark Carter and Chris Bray, who decide to cross a remote island in the Arctic for the hell of it.
The Rocket beat Saudi Arabian director Haifaa Al Mansour’s Wadjda, Iranian director Asghar Farhadi’s The Past, Belgian director Felix van Groeningen’s The Broken Circle Breakdown and Spanish director Pablo Berger’s Blancanieves.
In the docs category the next most popular titles were Stories We Tell, This Ain't No Mouse Music, Muscle Shoals and Blackfish.
The festival reported a 22% increase in ticket sales and a 20% increase in revenue. Total attendances at films and talks grew by 17% to 143,050.
All told there were 278 sessions across the 12 days of the festival, including 192 films from 55 countries in 54 languages, 20 world premieres, four international premieres, 124 Australian premieres, 17 retrospective titles, 82 features, 51 documentaries and 30 short films.
For the first time ever the SFF screened films from Angola (Death Metal Angola), Bangladesh (Television), North Korea (Comrade Kim Goes Flying), Malawi (William and the Windmill) and Saudi Arabia (Wadjda).
More than 150 Australian and international filmmakers attended.