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South Australian productions take top honours at SPA Awards

22 March 2024
L-R: The Royal Hotel, photo by Ian Routledge; Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black); Beep and Mort S2

South Australia’s screen sector triumphed at the Screen Producers Australia (SPA) Awards on the Gold Coast last night, with three SA made productions taking home awards.

SA made and SAFC supported The Royal Hotel was the joint winner of Feature Film Production of the Year, alongside Origma 45’s Shayda. The See-Saw Films feature directed and co-written by Kitty Green and starring Julia Garner and Hugo Weaving was shot on location in SA Outback town Yatina and at the SAFC’s Adelaide Studios last year.

See-Saw Films’ Emily Cook, Liz Watts and Libby Sharpe with the SPA Award for Feature Film Production of the Year for The Royal Hotel.

Adelaide production company Windmill Pictures was another winner, with their whimsical children’s series Beep and Mort S2 jointly winning Animated Production of the Year alongside Flying Bark Productions’ 100% Wolf: Book of Hath. The second season of Windmill’s beloved series was filmed at the SAFC’s Adelaide Studios last year supported by the ABC SAFC Content Pipeline Fund.

SA writer, director and actor Elena Carapetis (left), who starred in Beep and Mort, and SA producer Kaye Weeks of Windmill Pictures (right) with the SPA Award for Animated Production of the Year for Beep and Mort.

SPA CEO Matthew Deaner said: “As we celebrate the remarkable achievements of Australian screen producers at the 22nd Annual SPA Awards, it’s clear that our production community continues to thrive in the face of a rapidly changing landscape.

“Each winner exemplifies the creativity, innovation, and dedication that define our industry and showcase the vital role producers and production businesses play in sharing our unique stories and culture with audiences worldwide.”

The Screen Diversity and Inclusion Network (SDIN) also announced multi award-winning short film Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black) as the winner of the annual SDIN Award, which recognises an Australian-based project, producer and/or production company and/or screen organisation that has made a significant contribution, through excellence or impact to diversity and inclusion either on or offscreen in the Australian screen industry.

Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black) is a short docu-fiction film voiced completely in Yankunytjatjara, the language of South Australian artist and performer Derik Lynch, who co-directed and co-wrote the film with South Australian filmmaker Matthew Thorne. Produced by South Australian producers Patrick and Duncan Graham of Switch Productions and Thorne of Other Pictures, the film follows Derik, an initiated Anangu and queer-identifying man, on a road trip from the oppression of white city life in Adelaide back to country – Aputula in the Northern Territory – to perform on sacred Inma ground, while memories from his youth growing up on country return.

Made with support from both SDIN member the SAFC and the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund (AFFIF), the SDIN Award is the latest accolade for the acclaimed short which won both the Silver Bear Jury Prize and the Teddy Award for best LGBTQI short film at Berlinale 2023, as well as the Documentary Australia Award at the 2023 Sydney Film Festival and Best Short Documentary at 2023 MIFF.

SDIN Co-Chair Olivia Khoo (left) with SAFC CEO Kate Croser (right) at the SPA Awards. Kate accepted the SDIN Award for Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black) on behalf of the creative team, who were unable to attend.

SDIN Co-Chairs Olivia Khoo, Head of Film and Screen Studies at Monash University, and Loani Arman, SBS Scripted Commissioning Editor, said: “Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black) is a moving portrait of Derik Lynch, a queer Yankunytjatjara theatre artist. The documentary follows Lynch from Adelaide to his hometown of Aputula in the Northern Territory. Weaving memory, storytelling, and personal history, the film presents an intimate portrayal of how Lynch navigates and inhabits a life lived between different worlds. The jury was thrilled to recognise this extraordinary achievement by awarding the SDIN Award to this film.”

Accepting the award on behalf of the Dipped in Black team, who were unable to attend the awards, SAFC CEO Kate Croser said: “The SAFC, along with Adelaide Film Festival, are so proud to have supported this wonderful South Australian short film which has garnered such incredible acclaim all around the world, and I congratulate writers and directors Derik Lynch and Matthew Thorne, and producers Patrick and Duncan Graham on their continued success.”

Reading a thank you speech provided by producers Patrick and Duncan Graham, Kate said: “First and foremost, thank you to Derik Lynch and the amazing community of Aputula who not only put up with us but shared their lives, stories, campfires, dogs, and home with us all to make this special little film – what a dream come true.

“Thanks to all our dedicated crew, to Matt Thorne, SAFC, AFF and Panavision, SPA and Screen Forever and to SDIN for this award and especially for creating this category – we wish we could be there to celebrate and meet you all tonight. Finally, congratulations again Derik on your unique and powerful life and story being recognised – you deserve it all.”

It was a strong year for South Australian nominations at the SPA Awards, with Bunya ProductionsLimbo nominated for both the Feature Film Production of the Year and the SDIN Award; KOJO StudiosGold Diggers nominated for Comedy Program or Series Production of the Year; Monkeystack’s YOLO Silver Destiny nominated for Animated Production of the Year alongside Koala Man produced by SA’s Justin Wight, Dario Russo and David Ashby; and Blame the Rabbit from SA writer/director Elena Carapetis and SA producers Lisa Scott and Adam Camporeale nominated for Short Film Production of the Year. 

View the full list of winners and nominees on the SPA website here.

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