Romanian director Teodora Ana Mihai’s Waiting for August won the best international feature doc prize at the Antenna Documentary Film Festival.
Christopher Houghton’s Sons & Mothers was named best Australian doc with an honourable mention to David Fedele’s The Land Between.
Ghost Train took the prize for best Australian short with an honourable mention for Jilli Rose’s Sticky.
Waiting for August follows Georgiana Halmac, who lives with her six siblings in a social housing block on the outskirts of BacÄƒu, Romania.
Turning 15, she has no time for teenage dreams when her mother Liliana is forced to leave her family to find work in Torino and will not be back until summer.
As the eldest Georgiana is left in charge of her siblings. Caught between puberty and responsibilities, she improvises parenting advice gathered from the television and the occasional phone call from her mother.
The film won the top international feature prize at the Hot Docs Canadian international doc festival this year, described by the jury as a “beautifully crafted vérité film… what makes Waiting for August truly special is that by the time it’s over you will have laughed, cried, and become one of the family.”
“I wanted to tell an immigration story because we usually never get to witness it,” the director, who moved to Belgium in 1989 when she was eight, reuniting with her parents who had fled the Nicolae Ceausescu’s dictatorship the year before, told IndieWire.
“And of course, I was extremely inspired by my main characters, who are extremely resilient and courageous children.”
Sons & Mothers captures the journey of an acting troupe of men with disabilities as they set out to produce a theatrical love letter to their mothers, from first rehearsal to opening night at the Adelaide Fringe.
Set in the mountains of Morocco, The Land Between looks at the lives of migrants trapped in limbo, facing daily uncertainty and violence.
Ghost Train follows an elderly man struggling to cope with his wife’s dementia who gets drawn into a macabre cabaret restaurant where he becomes enchanted by the lead actress.
Sticky examines a handful of stick insects that dodged extinction by hiding on a single windswept bush on the world’s tallest sea stack for 80 years.
Waiting for August gets a cash prize of $3,000 and the winners of best Australian doc and best Australian short receive $2,000 and $1,000 respectively.
The fourth edition of the Antenna Documentary Film Festival was staged at the Chauvel Cinema from October 14-19.