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Director Alana Hicks' comedy drama 'Chicken' won Australian Short Film Today's Virtual Audience Award following our program's first-ever virtual screening, with 'Wine Lake', directed by Platon Theodoris and starring Writer and Executive Producer Ailís Logan winning the Runner Up Award.

After the screening, there was a Q&A with the makers of three of the films conducted by Australian International Screen Forum Chairman Chris Beale.


One of the filmmakers was Hicks. She is an experienced digital series writer and producer. 'Chicken' is the first film she received a grant to make. Hicks was born in Papua New Guinea to a White Australian father and an Indigenous PNG mother. She came to Australia when she was 6; her mother came to Australia more recently.


Hicks' short film deals with racism, although it does so in a soft comedic way. She was asked why she made that choice and didn’t take a harder approach. She replied that she has a background in comedy and through comedy she wanted to tell the story of the excitable mother — a recent immigrant to Australia — and the calm and slightly exasperated daughter — a much earlier immigrant and now comfortable in Australia — who has to go to the rescue of a mother who can’t deal with many day to day situations. She confirmed that the characters are based on her and her mother.


Hicks was asked about an online story she wrote — Smoke and Fire — dealing with violence against women in Papua New Guinea, driven by superstition. She wrote about her mother’s brutal experience, and about Hick’s growing up as a mixed-raced kid. She was asked about how that has driven her approach to her art. She said it has been central to her mission to tell her mother’s story and of her mother’s suffering in PNG. "In many ways I understood fairly early on that I had it much easier than [my mother] did... I appreciated how difficult it was for her, and I resented how easy it was for me."


Another participant in the Q&A was Melissa Anastasia, the director of 'Sleepwalking.' She was asked what drew her to the tough subject of an abusive husband/stepfather and the impact the abuse had on his wife and her 11-year old son. She spoke about how she has focused on abusive relationships in her work and how hard it is for women to leave those relationships and how the abuse can become intergenerational.

'Wine Lake''s Platon Theodoris and Ailís Logan also participated in the Q&A, where they discussed, among other topics, the difficulty Logan had navigating the world while in costume as a homeless woman. This is the third award 'Wine Lake' has picked up as part of our 2020 program, having also won the Audience Award in St. Tropez as well as the Nicolas Baudin prize for best short film.


Our 2020 program - the 28th annual edition of Australian Short Film Today - was screened before a live audience in St Tropez on October 12, 2020 by Rencontres Internationales du Cinema des Antipodes, our hosting partner, which screens Australian and New Zealand feature films and short films.


'Wine Lake' won the Australian Short Film Today Audience Award in Saint Tropez. It also won the festival's Nicolas Baudin prize for best short film. 'Wine Lake' was directed and produced by Platon Theodoris. Ailis Logan was the writer, executive producer and the female lead. Platon’s short films have been shown at festivals in London, Cannes, Singapore and Vancouver, and Ailis won Best Actor for her role in 'Wine Lake' at the St. Kilda Film Festival in 2020.


In the film, an older homeless Irish Catholic woman and an Irish backpacking young man clash on a Sydney street. The backpacker becomes the focus of her anger after she makes a wrong assumption. But his innocence catches her off guard and they develop an unlikely connection over his art. She apprehensively shares one of her poems with him, and the pair make a surprise discovery.


The Australian Short Film Today Runner Up Award for Saint Tropez was tied between 'Jackrabbit' written and directed by Alex Feggans and 'Sleepwalking' written directed by Melissa Anastasi. Alex started in film on feature film sets before transitioning to post production, commercial advertising editing, and now to directing. 'Jackrabbit' has been acquired by Canal + (France), Telephonica (Spain) and SVT (Sweden).


Melissa’s short films have screened at festivals around the world including Uppsala, Tampere, Cannes and Oldenburg. She won best short at Worldfest Houston for a prior short, and she was awarded an Australian Directors' Guild Award for a previous short. She is a graduate of AFTRS where she was awarded the Kenneth B. Myer Award for Exceptional Talent, and the European Union Film Award. She has studied screenwriting through the UCLA Professional Program. She is currently developing the feature films 'Bluebirds' and 'Soft Rain' which was accepted into the Binger Writer's Lab in Amsterdam.

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