Australian films won two of the three feature prizes at the recent 21st International Festival of Women's Films in Créteil, a city on the outskirts of Paris. At the Festival's closing ceremony, attended by government ministers and French Film personalities, Aboriginal filmmaker Rachel Perkins was awarded the 20,000 F (A$6000) Prix du Public for her first feature, Radiance.
The French Minister for Women's Affairs, Mme Martine Aubry, made a further 20,000 F award to Australian director Nadia Tass, whose feature Amy won the Prix du Jury Graine de Cinéphage. Tass, who interrupted pre-production on her next feature in Los Angeles to attend the Festival, declared herself both surprised and delighted by this award. "I'm particularly happy as the jury is composed entirely of young people. I hope their enthusiasm indicates the attraction Amy has for a general audience."
Tass and Perkins were among a delegation of 15 Australian women filmmakers invited to participate in the Festival as part of an extensive tribute to antipodean filmmakers. Over 50 Australian films were presented both in and out of competition. Retrospectives of the work of Jane Campion and Aboriginal filmmaker Tracey Moffatt were screened side by side with a retrospective of films both starring and directed by the French actress Jeanne Moreau.
Three aspects of Australian filmmaking received particular attention from the Festival: the new wave of Aboriginal filmmaking as represented by Perkins and recent film school graduate Erica Glynn; the work of the Australian Film Television & Radio School, as presented by the Head of Studies, Annabelle Sheehan (who also discussed her work as a sound editor with Jane Campion); and Australia's first feminist films from the Sydney Women's Film Group. Early films from the 1970s made by Martha Ansara, Margot Nash and Jeni Thornley received a rare historical screening with the filmmakers in attendance. The three also presented more recent work, including Vacant Possession (Nash, 1994) and To the Other Shore (Thornley, 1997).