South Australia is celebrating the remarkable success of its screen industry with accolades pouring in for films made in South Australia which screened at the recent Berlinale – Berlin International Film Festival, one of the top film festivals in the world.
For the first time in 17 years, two Australian productions were presented in the Official Competition, both made in South Australia, with a total of eight Australian films selected as part of the Berlinale. Four of the Australian films were South Australian productions supported by the South Australian Film Corporation (SAFC), with four of the selected films also supported by the Adelaide Film Festival through its Investment Fund (AFFIF).
Three World Premieres of the AFFIF productions were held at the 2022 Adelaide Film Festival last October, ahead of their international premieres at Sundance (Talk to Me), Berlin (Survival of Kindness, Hello Dankness) and Monolith’s presentation at the upcoming SXSW (Austin, Texas). Talk to Me was also in official selection at Berlin alongside AFFIF/ SAFC/ Panavision funded short film Marungka Tjalatjunu/Dipped in Black which premiered at the Berlinale.
Nominated for the prestigious Golden Bear, Rolf de Heer’s The Survival of Kindness, starring SA’s Mwajemi Hussein and produced by De Heer and SA’s Julie Byrne of Triptych Pictures won the top FIPRESCI Jury Prize, awarded by the International Federation of Film Critics for the best film in Competition. The film had its World Premiere at the 2022 Adelaide Film Festival.
De Heer’s dystopian fable was touted as a “masterpiece” by critics at the festival who praised it as a powerful allegory for racism, with Variety applauding the film’s allegorical form as “a parable for resisting injustice”, and The Guardian lauding star Hussein’s performance as one of the festival’s best. Survival of Kindness was filmed in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges and in Tasmania.
Marungka Tjalatjunu/Dipped in Black, produced by SA’s Patrick Graham, Duncan Graham and Matthew Thorne, and written and directed by SA director and Yankunytjatjara artist Derik Lynch and Thorne, took home the much coveted Silver Bear Jury Prize (Short Film) and the Teddy Award for Best Short Film off the back of its international premiere as part of the 2023 Berlinale Shorts program.
SAFC and AFFIF also backed Talk to Me which was acquired out of Sundance for North American release by leading entertainment company A24, after it was bought for a substantial figure. Talk to Me was written and directed by Adelaide filmmaking twin brothers Danny and Michael Philippou, with SA writer Bill Hinzman, and produced by Samantha Jennings and Kristina Ceyton of Causeway Films. It will be released on more than 2,000 cinema screens in the US.
Creative duo Soda Jerk’s feature Hello Dankness had its international premiere in the Panorama section at Berlinale. Hello Dankness was the 2022 biennial Art & Moving Image commission by the Adelaide Film Festival, in partnership with the Samstag Museum of Art, where it had its World Premiere in October.
Also in Competition at the Berlinale was Ivan Sen‘s mystery thriller Limbo, produced by David Jowsey and Greer Simpkin of Bunya Productions and Rachel Higgins and filmed in Coober Pedy with Simon Baker (The Mentalist), Rob Collins (Firebite), SA’s Natasha Wanganeen (Rabbit Proof Fence) and Nicholas Hope (Bad Boy Bubby), with SA’s Elaine Crombie as Associate Producer.
The film was a hit with critics at the festival, with The Guardian rating it among the “Best of Berlin”, and The Hollywood Reporter describing it as a “visually striking” film with a “superb” performance by Baker.
Jub Clerc’s Sweet As, which was awarded the Crystal Bear at the Berlinale, was an audience favourite at the 2022 Adelaide Film Festival.
Kate Croser, SAFC CEO, said: “Having South Australia so well represented at such a prestigious international film festival as the Berlinale is a major coup in itself. The fact that South Australian made films, supported by the South Australian Film Corporation and by the Adelaide Film Festival, have also won multiple awards and critical honours at the festival is absolutely extraordinary and reflective of the depth and breadth of talent in our local screen industry. I congratulate all the creative teams behind these productions, and all the talented and highly skilled South Australian cast and crew who worked on them, and look forward to their continued international success.”
Mat Kesting, Adelaide Film Festival CEO and Creative Director, said: “It was an incredible moment to be a South Australian in Berlin and to be able to celebrate the extraordinary talent and creativity represented by the South Australian films selected for this prestigious international film festival. The Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund has, since 2003, supported more than 130 screen projects which have screened to acclaim at Berlin, Cannes, Sundance, Toronto and Venice Film Festivals. AFF seeks out bold and innovative storytelling, and we could not be more proud that in 2023, the AFFIF films continue to shine at the highest international level – at Sundance earlier this year, and now at Berlin and SXSW, continuing AFFs reputation as a world acclaimed festival.”
Minister for the Arts, Andrea Michaels, said: “It is fantastic to see South Australian films shining on the world stage. Our state is home to extraordinary creative talents and this recognition, at one of the most prestigious film festivals in the world, reflects the remarkable skill of our screen sector.”