Magazine article Screen International

'Aquarius' Wins Sydney Film Prize

Magazine article Screen International

'Aquarius' Wins Sydney Film Prize

Article excerpt

Director Kleber Mendonça Filho's Brazilian social justice drama Aquarius has won the $47,000 (AU$63,000) Sydney Film Prize, the major award of the Sydney Film Festival (June 8-19).

Mendonca Filho's story of a strong-willed homeowner's battle against unscrupulous real estate developers was awarded the top prize at the closing night of the 63rd SFF on Sunday.

Jury president and UK producer Simon Field said Aquarius, which premiered in Competition at Cannes last month, is "a compelling and relevant statement about contemporary Brazil, and the power of an individual standing up for what she believes."

"Mendonça Filho has created a film that is both political and personal - witty, sexy and playful. A film of effortless verve and intelligence," he said.

"At the heart of the film is Sonia Braga's astonishing and brave performance of a fearless character, resisting pressures from her family, and the corporate world."

The film was an early favourite for local critics, and was selected over fellow contenders, Goldstone (Ivan Sen, Australia), Land of Mine (Martin Zandvliet, Denmark/Germany), Apprentice (Bun Junfeng, Singapore), Psycho Raman (Aburag Kashyap, India), It's Only The End of the World (Xavier Dolan, France/Canada), Certain Women (Kelly Reichardt, USA), Letters From War (Ivo Ferreira, Portugal), Notes on Blindness (Pete Middleton, James Spinney, UK), The Childhood of a Leader (Brady Corbet, UK/Hungary/France), The Endless River (Oliver Hermanus, South Africa, France), and Viva (Paddy Breathnach, Ireland).

Mendonça Filho, who had attended the June 10 premiere of Aquarius, accepted the award from his home in Recife, Brazil.

"Aquarius is still very young, Australia was only the second country to get to see it and no one has actually seen it in Brazil, its home country," he said in a statement.

"To get this recognition from Sydney Film Festival means a lot to me and to the film, which is building up momentum for our Brazilian release. …

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