Nitram filmmakers will use CinefestOZ Film Prize to support local filmmakers

Essie Davis in Nitram.

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Justin Kurzel’s tense Martin Bryant drama Nitram has won the CinefestOZ $100,000 Film Prize which the film’s producers say will be used to “propel new Australian stories and support emerging and established local filmmakers.”

The filmmakers for Nitram were awarded the honour by a Jury made up of Jury Chair Nadia Tass (Malcolm, The Big Steal), Isla Fisher (Wedding Crashers), Zak Hilditch (These Final Hours), producer Judi Levine (How to Please a Woman) and filmmaker Julia Redwood (of Prospero Productions).

Nitram follows Nitram (Caleb Landry-Jones) who lives with his mother (Judy Davis) and father (Anthony LaPaglia) in suburban Australia in the Mid 1990s. He lives a life of isolation and frustration at never being able to fit in. That is until he unexpectedly finds a close friend in a reclusive heiress, Helen (Essie Davis). However when that friendship meets its tragic end, and Nitram’s loneliness and anger grow, he begins a slow descent into a nightmare that culminates in the most nihilistic and heinous of acts.

The CinefestOZ Film Prize recognises excellence in the craft of filmmaking from an Australian feature film or feature-length documentary. Introduced in 2014, the prize is made possible through Tourism WA’s Regional Events Program.

CinefestOZ Jury Chair Nadia Tass, who has supported the festival virtually from Melbourne this week, said of the Jury’s deliberation, “The jury acknowledges the extraordinary challenges that each of the filmmakers has had to overcome to make their films in these unique times.”

She explained their mandate was to judge the four films from a perspective of excellence.

“We explored many different film categories to judge – originality, the power of the story, the pacing, the structure, the memorable characters, the quality of the acting, the cinematography and how it is aligned with the narrative, and the ability of the filmmaker to create a strong and cohesive experience in the cinema,” Tass said.

“After much deliberation we agree Nitram presented a unique perspective of this story, with great use of cinematic language, depth of detail, particularly in performance and many layers of nuance. On the basis of excellence in cinema, we are awarding Nitram the Film Prize for CinefestOZ in 2021.”

Caleb Landry-Jones and Essie Davis in Nitram

The $100,000 Film Prize is another accolade for Nitram which recently saw Caleb Landry Jones win Best Actor at Festival de Cannes this year.

Nitram is directed by Kurzel (Snowtown, True History of the Kelly Gang) and written by Shaun Grant (Penguin Bloom, Snowtown).

On the Film Prize Award, Nitram’s producers Virginia Whitwell and Nick Batzias said, “We feel honoured to have received this extraordinary prize for the film and thank the Jury, CinefestOZ and Tourism WA. In partnership with Justin Kurzel and Shaun Grant, we look forward to using the prize money to propel new Australian stories and support emerging and established local filmmakers.”

Director Justin Kurzel also extended his thanks to the Jury.

“I feel extremely honoured that Nitram was selected and awarded the CinefestOZ Film Prize. Thank you to the Jury and I so wish I was able to attend. The film happened because a group of very dedicated and loyal crew and cast came together and believed in the project. A big thanks to the incredible producers Nick and Virginia who are just the most amazing people and if it was not for them we would not have been able to make Shaun’s extraordinary script,” he said.

The 2021 additional Jury members – Isla Fisher, Zak Hilditch, Judi Levine and Julia Redwood – were all in attendance at Gala Night to walk the star-studded Busselton red carpet and celebrate the achievements of all four Film Prize finalists.

Nitram was selected from fellow finalists Here Out West, River and The Drover’s Wife The Legend of Molly Johnson.

Isla Fisher was also recognised at this evening’s Gala for her outstanding contribution to the film industry and named the CinefestOZ 2021 Screen Legend.

The Screen Legend is recognised for playing a valuable role in supporting excellence in Australian filmmaking, which CinefestOZ proudly showcases through a variety of film events and screenings across Western Australia’s South West region over the five-day festival.

Nitram is in cinemas from September 30 before a streaming release via Stan.

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