Well, we picked it folks!
Robert Connolly’s stunning new kid’s film, Paper Planes, was awarded the inaugural CinéfestOZ $100,000 Film Prize.
Legendary Australian director, Bruce Beresford announced the winner to an enthusiastic crowd.
Connolly was presented with Australia’s richest film prize on Saturday night as part of CinéfestOZ’s Gala Night celebrations in Busselton, in the south west of Western Australia.
“I am really flattered to receive this, I am really touched,” said Connolly.
“We want this film to be a big hit for kids and something like this is a massive, massive help right now for that.
“Paper Planes is in the Toronto Film Festival in a few weeks and we are working out who can we fly there and how much talent can we afford to bring talent there.
“I would like all of you to think when you see one of our actors at one of these festivals overseas talking about the film that this money has helped us achieve that.”
Produced by Connolly, Maggie Miles and Liz Kearney, Paper Planes – a MIFF@ CinéfestOZ film – tells the story of a young Australian boy’s passion for flight and his journey to compete in the world paper plane championships in Japan.
The film, which stars Sam Worthington, Ed Oxenbould and David Wenham, beat fellow finalists Felony, Son of a Gun, The Reckoning, The Waler: Australia’s Great War Horse and MIFF@CinéfestOZ film My Mistress to the title.
The Film Prize is awarded to the producer of an Australian feature film or feature-length documentary. It is the only cash prize focused on Australian feature films.
WA Tourism Minister Liza Harvey said she was extremely proud that Western Australia was home to Australia’s richest film prize.
“The CinéfestOZ film prize will help lift the festival’s profile nationally and internationally and help promote Western Australia and the South West region,” she said.
“Events such as CinéfestOZ are vital for regional WA because they help grow visitor numbers and spend in regional communities.
“This is why the State Government sponsors events through Tourism WA’s Regional Events Program, which is funded by Royalties for Regions.”
CinéfestOZ received more than 20 submissions for the Film Prize, which was voted on by a jury of five esteemed members of the film industry headed by director Bruce Beresford – Marta Dusselorp, Benjamin Illos, Sue Milliken and Margaret Pomeranz.
The jury watched each of the finalists with an audience at CinéfestOZ before coming together to deliberate and vote on the winner.
“Paper Planes is a delightful and amusing film with a charming cast of children that achieves its aims of being entertaining and uplifting,” said Beresford.
The Film Prize was established to encourage excellence in Australian filmmaking, support the country’s vibrant film industry and attract new audiences to Australian film.
Deputy chair of CinéfestOZ Helen Shervington said the prize underlined the festival’s commitment to the Australian film industry by creating, attracting and supporting filmmakers and opportunities within the industry.
“The Film Prize is about recognizing great Australian film and the people who work to bring these films to our screen,” Shervington said.
“It also provides CinéfestOZ with an outstanding collection of new Australian feature films to draw people from all over the country.
“We have been overwhelmed by the calibre of competition in the first year of the Film Prize. The bar has really been set high for 2015.”
CinéfestOZ is supported by the State Government through Tourism WA’s Regional Events Program, which is funded by Royalties for Regions.
The festival acknowledges its strong partnership with ScreenWest, Western Australia’s screen funding and development agency.
Culture and the Arts Minister John Day said ScreenWest supported the festival to ensure opportunities were available to showcase the State’s screen industry.
“Since its inception in 2008, CinéfestOZ has grown from a small festival with attendances of about 1,900 people to being internationally regarded, attracting audiences of more than 18,000 this year,” Mr Day said. “It has turned into a wonderful platform to showcase the content produced by our talented screen industry.”