Warwick Thornton’s period Western Sweet Country took out the Special Jury Prize at Venice Film Festival over the weekend.
The film was voted on by the jury consisting of chair Annette Bening, Ildikó Enyedi, Michel Franco, Rebecca Hall, Anna Mouglalis, David Stratton, Jasmine Trinca, Edgar Wright and Yonfan.
Sweet Country, produced by Bunya Productions’ David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin and starring Sam Neill, Bryan Brown, Hamilton Morris, Ewen Leslie and Matt Day, premiered in competition at the festival where it received a standing ovation and positive reviews.
It has also won the Premio Bisato d’Oro award, the Venice Critic’s award for Best Film.
Sweet Country, set in the 1920s in the Northern Territory’s MacDonnell Ranges, is Thornton’s first narrative film since Samson and Delilah, for which he won the Camera d’Or at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival.
Inspired by real events, the script was written by David Tranter and Steven McGregor, and follows the saga that unfolds after an Aboriginal stockman (Morris) kills a white station owner (Leslie) in self-defence.
Simpkin said: “To have worked with our close friends David Tranter, Steven McGregor and Warwick Thornton on this film has been a joy. To have this potent story about our country’s history shared and honoured internationally is both humbling and empowering.”
Sweet Country will premiere in Australia on October at the Adelaide Film Festival, ahead of national release in 2018 courtesy of Transmission Films.
Memento Films International is handling international sales.
— Biennale di Venezia (@la_Biennale) September 9, 2017
My personal photographer Bryan Brown took this of Warwick Thornton and I having cold beer after screening “Sweet Country” Venice. pic.twitter.com/NKHnUJgxJL
— Sam Neill (@TwoPaddocks) September 10, 2017