Both winners will receive a $10,000 cash prize as the Adelaide Film Festival comes to a close this Sunday.
The Feature Fiction Award was given to Iranian feature film Empty Nets, described by AFF Jury members as a “confident debut feature”.
Directed by German-Iranian filmmaker Behrooz Karamizade, Empty Nets is a story about star-crossed lovers in Iran at opposite ends of the economic order as sanctions against the nation begin to bite.
“Behrooz Karamizade’s lean and confident debut feature Empty Nets is a searing portrait of the bleak socioeconomic reality for young people without family money in contemporary Iran, distinguished by atmospheric visuals, an evocative sense of place, stirring lead performances and a powerful grasp of the sea as a metaphor for both freedom and menace,” said the jury, comprised of director Kitty Green, screenwriter Goran Stolevski, critic David Rooney, curator Alexander Matius and Don Dunstan Award recipient Sally Riley.
The Feature Documentary Award went to Hollywoodgate. Directed by Egyptian journalist turned filmmaker Ibrahim Nash’at, the documentary chronicles the Taliban’s takeover of the Hollywood Gate complex in Kabul following US troop withdrawal.
Nash’at has worked as a journalist for Deutsche Welle, Al Jazeera, Business Insider and Voice of America. Hollywoodgate is his first feature film as a director.
“Hollywoodgate is a masterful critique of two diametrically opposed systems — the US military and the Taliban — conducted while working in close contact with the latter at great personal risk,” the Jury said.
“An insightful fly-on-the-wall study of a transitional moment for Afghanistan following the withdrawal of American troops, which functions as both a detached Taliban infomercial and a slyly subversive takedown that crucially leaves itself open to multiple interpretations, all of them eye-opening.”
The six films in the Feature Fiction Competition in 2023 were:
- Blaga’s Lessons, from Bulgarian director Stephan Komandarev
- Embryo Larva Butterfly, by Greek-Cypriot writer/director Kyros Papavassiliou
- Empty Nets, by Iranian filmmaker Behrooz Karamizade
- On The Go, from directors Julia de Castro and María Gisèle Royo
- Sahela, directed by Australia’s Raghuvir Joshi
- You’ll Never Find Me, from Adelaide filmmakers Josiah Allen and Indianna Bell
The six films in the 2023 Documentary Competition were:
- Apolonia, Apolonia from Danish director Lea Glob
- Hollywoodgate, by the Egyptian journalist turned filmmaker Ibrahim Nash’at
- Lakota Nation vs United States, from directors Jesse Short Bull and Laura Tomaselli
- Mutiny in Heaven: The Birthday Party, by director Ian White; Seven Winters in Tehran, from director Steffi Niederzoll
- The Mountains, by Norwegian director Christian Einshøj
The Adelaide Film Festival finishes on October 29.
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