The 4th edition of Stranger With My Face International Film Festival wrapped up on Hobart, Tasmania over the weekend.
With eight features films, a shorts program, and a screenwriting competition, the festival specifically focuses on women directors working in horror and related genres and highlights emerging and established filmmakers.
The event features complementary activities to promote discussion and networking, including the Mary Shelley Symposium, an art exhibition and social events.
Stranger With My Face also featured a new program this year, an intensive mentoring program for women genre filmmakers called The Attic Lab. The nine selected filmmakers – who come from Tasmania, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland, Indonesia and the United Stated – and were supported in their pitches of new feature film projects by core mentor, Stephanie Trepanier (Head of Development, Snowfort Pictures), with input from acclaimed Tasmanian horror director Sean Byrne (The Loved Ones, The Devil’s Candy) and Women’s Alliance of Fantastic Film Festival members Heidi Honeycutt (Etheria Film Night) and Mai Nakanishi (Scream Queen Film Fest Tokyo).
Awards were announced on the final night of the festival across several categories.
Best Short Film for Stranger With My Face 2016 was awarded to Nasty, written and directed by Prano-Bailey Bond (UK).
The award was judged by award-winning Tasmanian-based screenwriter Claire d’Este (Slashed, Knit One) and Sydney-based producer Raquelle David.
“It’s a captivating short with an intriguing storyline about a young boy who discovers his missing father is trapped in a horror film on VHS tape,” says Raquelle David. “While it is reminiscent of classic horror films from the 80s, it’s a bold and original take on a familiar yet beautifully contained storyline, shot of film which gives it a throwback, retro feel. It’s use of clever lighting, period set design and practical effects is both mesmerising and loaded with tension all the way through. Prano is destined for great things and we can’t wait to see her feature!”
Prano Bailey-Bond responds: “On behalf of the entire cast and crew – thank you so much SWMFIFF and judges!” says Prano Bailey-Bond. “It’s a huge honour to win this award and utterly rad that others enjoy the Nasty world as much as we do! The judges comments have left me beaming!”
Best Feature Film for Stranger With My Face 2016 was awarded to The Invitation, directed by Karyn Kusama (USA).
“We’re very proud of all the films screened at the festival this year,” says Festival Director Briony Kidd, “But we want to acknowledge two extraordinary films. Although very different, each displays an impressive mix of craft skill and clever storytelling. They’re both highly original, as well.”
The festival also announced the winners of the Tasmanian Gothic Short Script Challenge 2016 over the weekend. The competition asks screenwriters to write a short horror script in 48 by responding to three unique prompts – a line of dialogue, a character and an object this year.
This year there were 93 participating screenwriters, from Australia and other countries, and the jury consisted of Festival Director and filmmaker Briony Kidd, Snowfort Pictures’ Stephanie Trepanier, Shelagh Rowan-Legg (programmer for FrightFest, Associate Editor for TwitchFilm, and a critic for Sight & Sound) and screenwriter Simon Barrett (You’re Next, The Guest).
The awards given were:
Best Australian Script – Lyndon Riggall (TAS) for Vacuum
Best International Script – Mike Atherton (UK) for No Such Thing
Runner-up awards were given to:
Tasmaniana Award – for a script that engages with Tasmania as a location – The Gallows by Drew Macdonald (QLD)
Miss Havisham Award – for a script that engages with gender issues – The Remembering by Barbara Truelove
Rebel Award – for a script that subverts conventions or challenges the status quo – Love By Death by Mike Wedderburn (ACT)
The Trifecta Award – for a script that cleverly incorporates the three prompts – The Importance of Fresh Breath by Bernie Rutkay
And three honourable mentions were announced:
The House on Cherry Lane by Danny Youd (TAS)
Calmer by Zane Pinner (TAS)
Race by May Grehan (NSW)
Best Australian Script Winner Lyndon Riggall says, “There is no way that a script like Vacuum would have existed without this competition. I remember getting my prompts, and one of them was a dust buster, and I thought about a Stephen King story called ‘I Am a Doorway’ where he tried to make a doorway scary. So I embraced my prompts and tried to make a dust buster scary. I think it’s exciting that something like this challenge brings a story into the world that would never have existed without it.”
“The greatest part of the experience was the way we all formed a little army on Facebook, looking out for each other, asking questions, encouraging. I have heard from several people that the weekend’s writing resurrected their ritual of getting up in the morning and putting words on a page. As much as I am so excited and grateful for this amazing reaction to my script, what I’m most keen to see is what else the challenge brings into the world by sending people back to their keyboards!”
The festival is named after one of Duncan’s most popular young adult novels, published in 1986. Her career, spanning the 1950s to the 1990s, is an inspiring one. Her supernatural thrillers, aimed at teenage girls, have resonated worldwide. “Just because readers are girls doesn’t mean that all they want is sticky romance and they have no interest in excitement and intrigue,” she says.
While unable to appear at Stranger With My Face in person, Duncan says she’s ‘thrilled’ to receive the award. “I’ve now reached an age where I’m chalking up my successes and failures, and this—along with being named a Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America—has to be one of my crowning successes in a very long career.