Australian Catholic Bishops Conference
Australian film wins Catholic prize at 76th Venice Film Festival
September 10, 2019
Australian film Babyteeth has won the World Catholic Association for Communication (SIGNIS) Prize at the 76th Venice Film Festival.
Directed by Shannon Murphy, Babyteeth is described as “a bittersweet comedy”, adapted by Rita Kalnejais from her stage play of the same name. The storyline follows a couple who discover their seriously ill teenage daughter has fallen in love with a small time drug dealer.
The SIGNIS Jury, composed of Jumpei Matsumoto (Japan), Christoph Strack (Germany), Massimo Giraldi (Italy), Sergio Perugini (Italy, Secretary) and Sr Nancy Usselmann (USA, President).
There has been a Catholic Jury in Venice (the first of its kind) since 1948, OCIC (International Catholic Organisation for Cinema) 1948-2001, SIGNIS since 2002.
The jury, headed by jury president, Sr Usselmann, an American Daughter of St Paul, noted: “Death is a mystery. Babyteeth is a drama about the suffering of Milla, her family's struggle for hope in the face of illness, and her longing for love.”
“The Australian director Shannon Murphy works out the characters and their individual challenges very sensitively and with originality in her debut feature film.
“We see the struggle of the middle-class parents, the teenage girl who wants to savour her life, and the lost young man Moses whose love for Milla changes him. The film is a drama, a tragedy, and yet it becomes a story of hope.
“Each person in this film is transformed and faces new responsibilities in his or her failures, anger, and grief. Death remains a mystery, but love grows out of death, and the emotionally paralysed family becomes a living communion of love.”
Screen Australia announced major production funding for Babyteeth in May last year, starring Ben Mendelsohn (Ready Player One, Animal Kingdom) and Essie Davis (Game of thrones, The Babadook).
It is the first feature for Australian development and production company Whitefalk Films following the success of short films Trespass (Winner of Best Australian Short Film, MIFF 2017) and Florence Has Left the Building (Winner of Best Short Film at the Australian Academy of Cinema & Television Arts Awards 2015).
Babyteeth is not due for release in Australia until 2020.