2011 South Australian Screen Award Winners

The South Australian Screen Awards (SASA) were announced last night (Friday 13 May) at a gala event at the Mercury Cinema. Presented by the Media Resource Centre (MRC), SASA winners represent the best of South Australian screen practice across the broad spectrum of 19 genre and craft categories. The primary focus of the awards is short films, however there is an award for best feature film, which celebrates local features made by South Australians.

The event was hosted by Adelaide media identity, Tim Noonan (891 ABC and Channel Seven) and attended by the who’s-who’s of Adelaide’s up-and-coming new generation of feature film and television makers, including Matt Bate (Shut Up Little Man: An Audio Misadventure), Dario Russo and David Ashby, (Spiderman and Danger 5), Kate Croser (Danger 5 & My Tehran for Sale), Murali Thalluri (2:37), Sieh Mchawala (Barefoot in Ethiopia) and Sophie Hyde and Bryan Mason (Life in Movement). Also in attendance were film identities Richard Harris (CEO, South Australian Film Corporation), Adele Hann (Associate Artistic Director, Adelaide Film Festival) , screenwriter Stephen Sewell (The Boys) and members of the West End’s art precinct, Stan Mahoney (Format Collective) and Josh Fanning (Magazine).

The big success story of the night was The Kiss, which took out five awards including the $3000 cash BEST SHORT FILM (Producer, Sonya Humphrey), BEST SHORT DRAMA (Producer, Sonya Humphrey), BEST SCREENPLAY (Ashlee Page), BEST DIRECTOR (Ashlee Page) and BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY (Nick Matthews). Taking the local top prize was the icing on the cake for the makers of The Kiss, which has already won Best Short and Best Cinematography at the 2010 AFIs and won director Ashlee Page the award for Best Emerging Filmmaker at the 2010 Melbourne International Film Festival.

Sophie Hyde and Bryan Mason won BEST FEATURE with their beautiful documentary, Life In Movement, about choreographer, Tanya Liedtke, who tragically died the night before taking up the position of Artistic Director of the Sydney Dance Theatre. Sophie and Bryan were the 2009 winners of Best Short Film at SASA with Necessary Games and were the co-producers of Shut Up Little Man, the Adelaide feature which premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival.

The poignant tale of a young African boy in a war zone, Paper Planes was nominated for five SASAS and won BEST SOUND DESIGN for Michael Darren. Its scriptwriter and director, Storm Ashwood was highly commended in the BEST DIRECTION category.

One of the highlights of the evening was the awarding of BEST PERFORMANCE to Adelaide actress Chantal Contouri for her role in the delicately sublime film, Unfinished Thoughts, based on the Italian short story by Felix Calvino. Chantal whose family established the Original Barbecue Inn on Hindley Street, which she now runs, began her career in the 1970s on Number 96 and in the family favourite, The Sullivans. Unfinished Thoughts was nominated for eight SASAs.

The Director of the Media Resource Centre, Gail Kovatseff said

“It was a wonderful night celebrating what has been an outstanding year in local filmmaking. Judges found the final decision making extremely difficult as there were so many deserving films and filmmakers.”

FULL LIST OF 2011 SASA Award Winners & Prizes

1. Pro AV Award for Best Non-Narrative

Winner: A Moment of Grace (MRC)

Prize: $1000 equipment hire from Pro AV Solutions

2.Total Photographic Award for Innovation in Digital Media

Winner: Portrait Mode

Prize: Studio and equipment hire to the value of $1000

3. The Cutting Room Award for Best Music Video

Winner: Frown (by the Giveaways)

Prize: $2000 editing time at The Cutting Room – including colour grading – to produce their next music video

4. GooRoo Animation Award for Best Animation

Winner: Sumo Lake (MRC)

Prize: MovieMagic 7 Budgeting software, a signed GooRoo collector’s edition DVD plus a collection of animation books valued at over $1200.

5. AIDC Award for Best Documentary

Winner: Chasing Shadows

Prize: Gold Pass Membership to all sessions at the 2012 Australian International Documentary Conference, valued at over $1000

6. Best FX Award for Best Comedy

Winner: Cropped

Prize: Surround Sound Mix at Best FX valued at $3000

7. Oasis Post Award for Best Drama

Winner: The Kiss

Prize: $3000 post facilities hire at Oasis Post

8. Mercury Cinema Award for Best Feature Film

Winner: Life in Movement

Prize: Three free feature session hires at The Mercury Cinema valued at over $2,200

9. SASA People’s Choice Award

Winner: Murder Mouth (MRC)

Prize: Full MRC Membership plus Gold Pass Membership to Adelaide Cinematheque plus a year’s subscription to Collect magazine valued at $250

10. The Carclew Youth Arts MRC Emerging Filmmaker Award

Winner: Madeleine Parry (MRC)

Prize: $1000 cash, MRC membership plus $1000 worth equipment hire from the MRC

11. The Independent Arts Foundation MRC Emerging Producer Award

Winner: Rose Tucker (MRC)

Prize: $1000 cash courtesy of IAF, MRC membership, plus 6 months free office rental and mentorship at the MRC to produce their next short film

12. The SASA Award for Best Production Design

Winner: Jessie Mills for Aurora

Prize: $600 of gift vouchers to spend within any Ted’s Camera Stores

13. The Chapel Lane Award for Best Sound Design

Winner: Michael Darren for Paper Planes

Prize: $1000 worth of studio recording services

14. The Music SA Award for Best Composition

Winner: Christopher Larkin for Toot Toot

Prize: Cash prize and courses valued at over $1000

15. The Canon Australia Award for Best Cinematography

Winner: Nick Matthews for The Kiss

Prize: Canon 60D DSLR Camera with a kit lens valued at over $1600

16. The Photographic Wholesalers Award for Best Editing

Winner: Cleland Jones for A Moment of Grace (MRC)

Prize: NEC Colour Profile Monitor valued at over $1000

17. The Actors Ink Award for Best Performance

Winner: Chantal Contouri for Unfinished Thoughts (MRC)

Prize: $2000 worth of Actors Ink Courses and support

18. The SASA Best Screenplay Award

Winner: Ashlee Page for The Kiss

Prize: One year’s Associate Membership of the Australian Writers’ Guild plus free attendance to all AWG courses and programs offered in 2011-12 valued at over $600.

19. The Picture Hire Australia Award for Best Direction

Winner: Ashlee Page for The Kiss

Prize: $1000 worth of equipment hire from Picture Hire.

20. The SAFC Award for Best Short Film

Winner: The Kiss

Prize: $3000 cash courtesy of the SAFC


When Documentary Turns Into a Drama

This week’s Screening Room film is a documentary called Crude, the story of 30,000 Ecuadoran plaintiffs taking on Chevron for $27billion in compensation for environmental and cultural devastation. They argue that between the mid-1960s and early 1990s, 18 billion gallons of oil and toxic waste was dumped in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador.

Photo Credit: David Gilbert - A gas flare is reflected in an oil waste pit in the Amazon rainforest of Ecuador.

This dumping is believed to have contributed to birth defects, leukaemia, miscarriages and other health related issues in a 1,700 square mile. They also allege the production of crude oil in the region has impacted on the traditional life of the indigenous population.

Filmmaker Joe Berlinger whose last film Some Kind of Monster (a warts and all look at Metallica’s therapy sessions) has again obtained complete access to his subjects; the legal team and plaintiffs as they wage their case. This access not only proves to be, another warts and all examination of a very human struggle, but has an off screen drama worthy of its own documentary.

In December last year Berlinger, was ordered to hand over 500 hours of raw footage from his documentary to the Chevron legal team. They believe the Ecuadorian government is waging a biased case against them and wanted to see the footage to prove it.

In his defense Berlinger argued for “reporter’s privilege”, an exemption that allows journalists to refuse to turn over evidence to US courts conducting lawsuits and trials. However a judge ruled that this argument could only be upheld if the filmmaker’s work was truly “independent”. This is difficult to argue when you are given complete access to only one side of the story and your film is observational.

The Court’s order to release the raw footage exposes documentary filmmakers’ vulnerability when trying to protect their subject’s and story. The closest an Australian documentary filmmaker has to “reporter’s privilege” is a journalist’s right to protect their sources. However this can only be enacted once you have signed up to the MEAA as a journalist and are obliged to work to the Code of Ethics.

An independent filmmaker, who is not a journalist, confronted with the same dilemma has no Constitutional or ethical grounds to argue for protecting their contributors. Despite this, should a documentary filmmaker attempt to argue this right, Australian courts have a history of putting those who protect their sources in gaol for doing so.

Crude has one off screening tonight at The Mercury Cinema, Adelaide, 7pm.

– Louise, MRC Digital Media Officer

Dear Adelaide: What Ever Happened To All Of Your Cinemas?

The Regent Theate opened 29/6/1928. Photographed c 1935 back when Rundle Mall was Mall-less.

It’s a question that has been asked many times by Adelaide city residents: where did all the city cinemas go? I remember being brought as a child by my parents into the city for a day of shopping, perhaps a ride on the paddle boats, and a movie before we went home. We could choose any film that was released and we were sure to find it screening in at least one of the cinemas.

Once labeled "Australia's most luxurious cinema", and taken over by Hoyts, the lobby on Rundle Mall is now a sports clothing store.

However, in the last five years, city cinema-goers, as well as those who come in from the outer suburbs, to spend a day in the city have gone from being able to pick from five cinemas, screening both blockbuster and arthouse films, to having the choice of two predominantly arthouse cinemas: the Mercury in the west end of the CBD and the Palace Nova in the east.


Former Metro opening 6/10/1939, Greater Union's Hindly Street Cinema has now been replaced with student accomidation and KFC. You can see the Woolshed sticking out of the corner. The Greater Union which replaced this further down Hindley Street is now a church.

The most obvious answer to this question is the rise of the suburban megaplex, which has seen the demise of the independent and smaller cinemas, and taken audiences out of the city and into suburban worlds of 20-plus screens, food courts and game arcades rolled into one – easy access fun for even the most unimpressed of children.

Opening with the world premiere of Breaker Morant on 15/5/1980, the Academy Cinema on Hindmarsh Square has been knocked down and replaced by a hotel and appartments.

These cinema giants have taken audiences not only from smaller cinemas in Adelaide’s CBD, but from independent suburban cinemas such as the Wallis at Glenelg, which closed its doors to the local community’s great disappointment a few years ago. Those such as Gepps Cross, Brighton, Henley Beach Road and Noarlunga are still battling on, but for how long, one can only guess.

The awning is still there, and the two cinema spaces (created when the original one cinema was revamped in 1967) are used during the Adelaide Fringe as a theatre venue.

Surely there is more to it than the rise of the megaplex, you say? Has the way in which audiences view films changed in the last ten years? It would be remiss to omit the impact of home entertainment technologies on audiences: DVD and Blu-ray, as well as (dare I mention them?) downloaded films. Perhaps more people are just comfortable sitting at home on their couch with a film they can watch over and over at no cost. And speaking of cost, I know that my cinema visits have become less frequent as the cost of seeing a film at most cinemas has risen quite noticeably.

Built by MGM with all interior fittings shipped from the USA. Photographed on the last day 1974.

So what is left for the cinema-going community of the Adelaide CBD? The Mercury is still offering a wide range of cinematic golden nuggets, with 2011 looking jam-packed full of new documentaries, locally and independently produced film and festivals, as well as the ongoing Cinematheque. And the Palace Nova off Rundle Street has a good selection of arthouse films showing everyday (as well as mainstream films to a certain extent) along with the regular festivals and special events. We have to make do with what is left, and the cinephile can easily do this, but this isn’t everyone: have we seen the end of an era for the CBD cinema?

– By MRC Intern and Members’ Exhibition Group member, Angela Schilling

For more information on the old cinemas of Adelaide, check out the Adelaide City Council’s Adelaide’s West and East End Theatre Walking Trail. Click to download the PDF (2 Mb)

Colour photographs from the Media Resource Centre’s collection of slides of Adelaide cinema facades, taken ~1989, in preparation for the design of the Mercury Cinema.  Black and White photographs from the Adelaide City Council Archives Photographic Collection.

Guest Review: William S Burroughs: A Man Within

This is a superb doco about a literary giant and generally inspiring human. With Ginsberg & Kerouac in the 50s, Burroughs kick-started the ‘Beat Generation’ and, arguably, the folk and punk movements that followed.

His then unpalatable persona; the gentleman junkie that shot his wife and wrote acerbic, expletive-filled, anti-establishment prose and verse, stands defiantly taller, long after his death. Peppered with adulation from the likes of Patti Smith, Allen Ginsberg and Laurie Anderson this film collates frank testimonials from his nearest and dearest.

The footage of Ginsberg and Burroughs chatting over a bowl of watermelon is but one part of a juicy concoction featuring Burroughs, the complete outsider, reading, wise-cracking and ageing most (dis-) gracefully.

His Thanks Giving poem particularly tells the truth about US hubris to perfection. His brave life and the genius of his writings seeded ‘gay lib’, though he drily asserts that he was never gay for a single day of his life, and he was certainly never part of any movement. Politically, he was anarchist; a person who believed in spiritual liberation. If you know nothing of Burroughs, you need to see this brilliant and extraordinary film about a brilliant and extraordinary man.

Four and a half stars.

– Andrew Bunney, 3D Radio

Adelaide Session Times


Guest Review: Life During Wartime

Director: Tod Solondz

This is the latest installment of daring US film maker Tod Solondz’ extreme storytelling project. His films sit precariously on the borderline of mainstream cinema, but are subversive to US culture and confrontingly concerned with taboo topics such as sibling rivalry and sex. As Palindromes picked up from Welcome to the Dolls House, so this story is concerned with following the characters from Happiness.

It centres on the lives and families of three sisters and is explicitly about forgiveness. It explores ideas of forgiving and forgetting in many contexts, particularly with regard to crimes against children and terrorism. Solondz mercilessly exposes the confused morality of neurotic parents and other adults, highlighting the way kids get damaged.

We are always aware that Solondz is playing with the form of storytelling as he did most explicitly in his film ‘Storytelling’. This stance allows him to serve up generous portions of both bleakness and hilarity through dark and scathing episodes.

This is cinema of the highest quality.  A visually and sonically impeccable film that is as fun and entertaining as it is challenging and wise. Another masterful piece from a coherent auteur.

Four Stars.

– Andrew Bunney, 3D Raido

Adelaide Session Times

Guest Review: American: The Bill Hicks Story

Bill Hicks is the kind of American we wish there were more of. He’s funny, charming, brave and sincere. He doesn’t like flag-waving rednecks, marketing guys, war-mongering, anti-smoking zealots, fundamentalist religions, bullies, nuclear testing, sexist beer & coke ads, etc. He does like tolerance, friends, family, making people laugh, magic mushrooms and rock music.

Probably you’ve barely heard of him because he wasn’t a hit in the mainstream, but he did achieve massive fame in the UK and was an underground legend in the US from his teens until his untimely death 10 years ago.

This is a very beautifully crafted documentary about his extraordinary life and challenging sense of humour. There are many wonderfully animated photographs, lots of hilarious archival clips and warm interviews with his family and friends.

There is so much truly original humour in this film, you’ll be telling Bill Hicks jokes for the rest of your life. “Why can’t the US target smart bananas on the starving hordes of the world?” he asks. “Why don’t we hear good news stories about LSD?” Treat yourself to a heart-warming dose of the outlaw comic.

Five stars.

– Andrew Bunney, 3D Radio

Adelaide Session Times

Guest Review: When You’re Strange: A Film About The Doors

The story of late 60s US band, the Doors and their tragic, poetic front man Jim Morrison, was the subject of a biopic made by legendary director Oliver Stone. Now the legions of fans of the songs of The Doors have a doco that collects the archival footage of them as they swirled through the charts giving a soundtrack to turbulent times. The director is Tom DeCillo who made the hilarious ‘Living in Oblivion’ which featured Steve Buscemi.

His new film, ‘When You’re Strange’ opens with some unseen footage of Morrison crawling from the wreckage of a car in the desert and these scenes forewarn of the imminent untimely demise of this quintessential bad-boy rockstar.

Then we backtrack to learn of the stellar talents of the musicians that make up The Doors. Not a garage band by any means, the boys came from flamenco and jazz backgrounds, and made their music without a bass guitar.

Johnny Depp narrates the story of how Morrison’s LSD informed poetry became the hallmark of their unique keyboard-laden rock-pop. The Doors quickly became the houseband at the Whiskey Au Go Go club before rocketing to no. 1 with their 1st hit, the classic, ‘Light My Fire’. The adoration of fans became focussed on Morrison who gave them all the revolutionary inspiration and sensuous sexuality they could want.

To be reminded of the stupid, repressive, violent history of the US portrayed in this film is rather sickening. Overseas, the US is napalming villages in Vietnam. At home, Robert Kennedy & Martin Luther King are assassinated. Kids & negroes are bashed by cops. The repressive violence of the US law as exemplified by racist violence and the gunning down of protesting students on campus, soon turned on Morrison. Concerts are wrecked by uniformed cops on stage and Morrison is arrested on-stage for supposedly exposing himself. He was in due course, sentenced to 4 months prison for the sex-crime of kneeling in front of his guitarist during a solo. (Only now, 40 years on, has the state of Florida finally apologised for this typical miscarriage of justice.)

More insidiously, Morrison is even forbidden from singing the words ‘girl we couldn’t get much higher’ on the Ed Sullivan show. The military, industrial democracy complex is revealed in its full shabbiness, here. The music in the film, of course, is great. The images are iconic, the footage superb and Johnny Depp’s deadpan narration, is um… interesting. Fans will love it and the ignorant will learn a lot. For the rest of us, it’s a very good, rock doco understandably tainted by the ugliness of US bullying culture, that we might rather be spared experiencing again.

Three and a half stars.

– Andrew Bunney, 3D Radio Announcer

Adelaide session Times