Woman at War, the Cannes award-winning follow-up to Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson’s Of Horses and Men, took both Best Dramatic Feature and Best Film at the 12th Byron Bay Film Festival. The film follows a 50-year-old independent woman and passionate environmental activist who secretly wages a one-woman war on the local aluminum industry. Woman at War was selected as Iceland’s entry for Best Foreign Language Film at the 91st Academy Awards.
Jirga, a redemption tale set in Afghanistan, won the Best Byron Film – the Locals Award, for its director, Bangalow-based Benjamin Gilmour.
The film which was in the spotlight at the Festival’s closing gala, Sharkwater: Extinction, won BBFF2018’s Best Environmental Film Award. The film was the last work by the late shark conservationist Rob Stewart, who was well known and widely loved in Byron Shire and along the North Coast.
In honor of the work that Rob Stewart achieved, Ms Skippon-Volke announced that from 2019 the award would be known as the Rob Stewart Best Environmental Film Award – giving further gravitas to the importance of recognizing Environmental Films and the strong impact they have in changing minds and behavior.
An audience favorite, Backtrack Boys, set in Armidale, won the festival’s Best Documentary Award, beating four international nominees and the Taree-based autobiographical doco Teach A Man to Fish, made by Grant Leigh Saunders.
The award for Best Music Documentary went to Michael Franti’s Stay Human, which opened the festival and set its informal theme of nurturing hope over cynicism. Best Surf Film went to Big Wata, set in Sierra Leone; Best Animation went to the French short Bavure; and the Best Cinematography Award went to Cielo for its entrancing photography of the sky above Chile’s Atacama desert.
The Best Young Australian Filmmaker Award went to Melbourne-based Greta Nash for her film The Locker Room.
The festival had another trophy added to its 2018 awards list – an Encouragement Prize sponsored by Canon, gifting a professional camera to a deserving Young Australian filmmaker. This year’s prize went to brothers Jay and Shaun Perry, for their work creating their short film The Intentions of F Scott Fitzgerald.
Byron Shire band Parcels took home the Best Music Video Award for their film, Tied Up Right Now, and the coveted InteractiveVR award was awarded to a unique Virtual Reality Music Video Experience – Chorus.