Australia's premier genre film festival Monster Fest wrapped its most successful edition to date last night in Melbourne with Official Closing Film THE GREASY STRANGLER (with actors Sky Elobar and Elizabeth De Razzo in person) followed by its annual awards ceremony acknowledging the best of this year's impressive lineup. The festival's 6th edition ran from November 24-27 at the Lido Cinemas, preceded by their industry component, the Swinburne University Media and Communication Monster Academy on November 23 and 24.
The features jury, consisting of Fantastic Fest head programmer Evrim Ersoy, filmmaker Donna McRae and longtime screen critic Simon Foster awarded the festival's top prize, The Golden Monster, to Julia Ducournau's RAW, with Ducournau in person to accept her award, beautifully designed and sculpted by Rain Gidley Studios. RAW also walked away with an honour for best FX. "Raw is a tour de force of invention, innovation and storytelling," says juror Donna McRae, "A film that celebrates appetite and difference."
Feature film awards also went to André Øvredall's THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE, dual awards for the Australian home invasion feature SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD (including a Best Performance award for young actor Levi Miller), Bartosz M. Kowalski's PLAYGROUND, Alice Lowe's PREVENGE, Sophia Takal's ALWAYS SHINE and more.
In the short film category, jurors Barbara Creed (author of the seminal book The Monstrous-Feminine), filmmaker Heidi Lee Douglas and visiting television scholar Amanda Reyes handed top awards to André Øvredal's THE TUNNEL, Kristy Guevara-Flanagan's documentary short WHAT HAPPENED TO HER and Kiefer Findlow's INSOMNOLENCE, while the Trasharama Program gave its Golden Lomax Award to Finnish director Chrzu Lindstrom's THE CONTRACT and its inaugural Encouragement Award to Australian filmmaker Frank Daft for BLOWN AWAY.
"There were huge waves of emotions running through the films," says short film juror Amanda Reyes, "whether it be legitimate fear and terror, or grief of even wildly raucous humor. INSOMNOLENCE, which won the Best Australian Short category is a prime example of combining terror and sadness in unique ways that sat deeply with the jury. Same with THE TUNNEL, which won for Best International Short. THE TUNNEL is visually stunning, but it is the tragedy held within the simple gut punch ending that made it an unforgettable experience."
The full list of 2016 award winners follows below:
THE MONSTER FEST 2016 AWARD WINNERS:
Golden Monster: RAW (Julia Ducournau, France)
Best International Feature: THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE (André Øvredal, USA)
Best Australian Feature: SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD (Chris Peckover, Australia)
Monster Innovation Award: PREVENGE (Alice Lowe, UK)
Best Performance (Male): Levi Miller, SAFE NEIGHBORHOOD (Chris Peckover, Australia)
Best Performance (Female): Mackenzie Davis, ALWAYS SHINE (Sophia Takal, USA)
Best Documentary: SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: THE TRUE STORY OF THE PROCESS CHURCH OF THE FINAL JUDGEMENT (Neil Edwards, UK)
Best Director: PLAYGROUND (Bartosz M. Kowalsi, Poland)
Best Cinematography: A DARK SONG (Liam Gavin, Ireland/UK)
Best Score: A DARK SONG (Liam Gavin, Ireland/UK)
Best FX: RAW (Julia Ducournau, France)
Special Mention: AUTOHEAD (Rohit Mittal, India)
Best International Short: THE TUNNEL (André Øvredal, Norway)
Best Australian Short: INSOMNOLENCE (Kiefer Findlow, Australia)
Best Victorian Short: SECRETIONS (Goran Spoljaric, Australia)
Best Director: WHAT HAPPENED TO HER (Kristy Guevara-Flanagan, USA)
Best Screenplay: THE INCREDIBLE TALE OF THE INCREDIBLE WOMAN-SPIDER (Pablo Guirado, France)
Best Performance: Najarra Townsend, THE STYLIST (Jill Gevargizian, USA)
Best Effects: THE PAST INSIDE THE PRESENT (James Siewert, USA)
Best Cinematography: DISCO INFERNO (Alice Waddington, Spain)
Best Score: IMITATIONS (Fabian Velasco & Milos Mitrovic, Canada)
Best Villain: O CHRISTMAS TREE (Greg Kovacs, Canada)
Best Animation: THE ITCHING (Diane Bellino, USA)
Honorable Mention for short we'd like to see made into a feature: DAWN OF THE DEAD (Rob Savage, UK)
Trasharama Golden Lomax Award: THE CONTRACT (Chrzu Lindstrom, Finland)
Trasharama Encouragement Award: BLOWN AWAY (Frank Daft, Australia)
"Monster's Choice" Audience Awards:
Best Feature: MONDO YAKUZA (Addison Heath, Australia)
Best Short: Tie: DRAGON FORCE (Stuart Simpson, Australia) / A HELL OF A DAY (Evan Hughes, Australia).
ABOUT MONSTER FEST
Founded in 2011, Monster Fest is a mix of Premieres, international festival favourites, challenging new discoveries and curated repertory sidebars alongside industry-focused events such as panels and masterclasses with renowned international guests, and a special emphasis on supporting emerging Australian genre film talent through the festival and beyond. Monster Fest is mounted with the support of Screen Australia and Film Victoria. The full 2016 program can be perused at www.monsterfest.com.au/2016.