Featuring 78 titles, the 2022 MIFF Shorts program was spread across 11 packages and included animation, documentary, experimental, and Australian and international fiction shorts, as well as a special suite of short films from and about Africa.
City of Melbourne Grand Prix for Best Short Film
Murmurs of the Jungle
Director & Producer: Sohil Vaidya
Jury Statement: Murmurs of the Jungle is a masterfully crafted and captivating piece of cinema, which gently invites the viewer to be part of a story that reaches back to the beginning of all things. Even in its comparatively short 20 minutes, the film gifts us with two of the most precious commodities: space and time. Amid stories that speak to the roots of our relationship with place, nature and the Country beneath our feet, we are taken on a journey, guided by place itself. Beautifully shot, the landscape becomes the most important character in this film. Gorgeous visuals compel us to look, and the stories, coming from place itself, hold us in rapt attention throughout.
VicScreen Erwin Rado Award for Best Australian Short Film
An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It
Director & Producer: Lachlan Pendragon
Jury Statement: With its playfully long title and vintage stop-motion animation, An Ostrich Told Me the World Is Fake and I Think I Believe It is a subtle delight. In a cinematic landscape full of increasingly generic computer animation, it’s refreshing to see the care put into this little film. Dryly funny with a meta twist, director Lachlan Pendragon’s debut short shows so much promise.
Award for Emerging Australian Filmmaker
Director: Rudolf Fitzgerald-Leonard Producer: Annika Birgel
Jury Statement: Tremor is a powerfully taut and understated examination of frustration, desire and humiliation that, in its deft ellipses, stirs the emotional waters in which these sensations are mingled. Led by a brilliant performance from Luis Brandt, the film modulates our distance from the protagonist’s inner experience; we both intimately feel and distantly observe Leon’s pain, sitting with him during wordless close-ups, and reflecting on his world more coolly during the film’s beautifully contemplative interstices and carefully spaced flashbacks. Expertly paced and wonderfully composed, Tremor is an exciting film that explores the silences and in-between moments in which painful events are often most intensely felt.
Award for Best Fiction Short Film
Director: Nuhash Humayun Producers: Bushra Afreen, Nuhash Humayun
Jury Statement: Moshari is an intense, inspiring, thrilling, engaging and ultimately heartwarming take on a story we thought we knew. While the majority of the narrative may take place in one room, it is the relationships contained therein that endear the protagonists to us and leave us wanting more. Moshari manages to make an old story fresh and, through its genuine performances and beautiful cinematography, does that most elusive of things: it tells a good story and does it well.
Award for Best Documentary Short Film
Will You Look at Me
Director & Producer: Shuli Huang
Jury Statement: An audacious reflection on the intersection between personal identity, familial bonds and intolerance, Will You Look at Me poignantly weaves together super-8 archive, autobiographical voiceover and an audio recording of a heartbreaking conversation the filmmaker had with his mother, where she is in the process of confronting him over the despair she feels about his homosexuality. Courageously loving in response to his mother’s misdirected anger and sense of victimhood, the film explores the trauma caused by relationships built on rigid expectations, and how inflexible social mores can have devastating consequences for individuals. While these themes are not new, it is Shuli Huang’s artistic candour, sense of aesthetic space and feel for poetic juxtaposition that make this an especially moving experience.
Award for Best Animation Short Film
Director: João Gonzalez Producers: Bruno Caetano, Michaël Proença
Jury Statement: With gorgeous hand-drawn animation and a quiet, heartfelt story, Ice Merchants is a film that stays with you, both visually and emotionally. Even without using dialogue, director João Gonzalez manages to convey a wealth of emotion from his main character: a silent, determined man who lives an isolated life with his young son. Like a storybook come to life, Ice Merchants transports us to a serene, beautiful place where small victories are more than enough.
Award for Best Experimental Short Film
Director & Producer: Maryam Tafakory
Jury Statement: Jacques Rivette once asked, “What is cinema but the play of the actor and the actress, of the hero and the décor, of the word and the face, of the hand and the object?” If this rhetorical question points to a deep truth about the nature of the medium, then Maryam Tafakory’s poetic and quietly forceful found-footage collage is pure cinema. Taking the symbolically loaded exchanges between men and women in post-Revolutionary film as its starting point (physical contact onscreen is strictly forbidden by Iranian censors), Nazarbazi is a stirring reflection on desire, sensation, absence, control, freedom and love.
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