November 14, 2008
Men’s Group, a little known film about a bunch of blokes attending self-help meetings, has been named the best Australian film of the year at the Inside Film (IF) Awards.
The film, directed by Michael Joy, picked up three of the top awards at the ceremony on the Gold Coast last night, including best feature film, best script and best actor for Grant Dodwell.
"It’s very exciting and it’s really nice to see the film’s had the response it’s had from the audience," Joy said.
Joy, who also co-wrote the script, said he came up with the idea for his debut feature film after attending a men’s group himself.
"Within my own life I ended up needing some people outside of family and friends to talk to and I found myself going to a men’s group this one evening and heard these guys’ stories and just realised that there was a story there that had to be told," he said.
"It’s amazing actually how many people just opened up and told us stories about their lives.
"Perhaps it’s just about time that (we started talking about these things)."
Joy said he hoped the film’s success would raise its profile and encourage more people to go and see it.
"The film was not made to do any more than communicate a story about men and their need to open up and get in contact with their emotions and their instincts," he said.
"When you’re distributing a film yourself, it’s a struggle to get into any cinema. Anything like this helps us just to stay in the cinemas another week and we can get another who knows how many people to see the film."
Romantic thriller Unfinished Sky was the other big winner of the night, claiming four gongs.
Director Peter Duncan took home the award for best direction, while Dutch actress Monic Hendrickx claimed the best actress trophy ahead of Black Water’s Maeve Dermody and The Black Balloon’s Gemma Ward.
The Black Balloon, which is Australia’s highest grossing film of 2008, led the IF Awards nominations with 10, but walked away with just one – for box office achievement.
The Burning Season, director Cathy Henkel’s documentary about rainforest burning in Indonesia, took out the best documentary category.
Son of a Lion grabbed two gongs for best music and the Independent Spirit award.
September nabbed the cinematography award, The Square was recognised for best sound and Angus and
Julia Stone’s Just A Boy was declared best music video.
Screen icon Hugo Weaving, who has starred in The Matrix and Lord of the Rings trilogies as well as homegrown films like Priscilla Queen of the Desert, was the recipient of the living-legend award.