A group of Curtin University graduates has won a prestigious award at the International Children’s Film Festival in Chicago.
On 28 October, five Curtin graduates were presented with first place in the Best Live Action Short Film category for their film Play Lunch.
Filmed at Rossmoyne Senior High School, Play Lunch tells the story of young Molly Lam and her lunchtime dilemma. Molly’s mum has packed her a huge lunch that she promises to finish. When an encounter occurs between Molly and talented footballer Sam, it brings about the possibility of food, football and friendship.
Producer Tamara Small says Play Lunch explores the innocence of childhood and the simple joys of making new friends.
“I loved the story straight away and was especially drawn to how it captured this youthful vision of friendship,” she said.
Tamara said she and the team were thrilled to receive an award at such a prestigious festival and were excited that audiences around the world were engaging with Play Lunch.
“This is the first award we have won for the film and it’s a great compliment coming from the Children’s Jury, because it shows that they really connected with the film,” Tamara said.
“To see Play Lunch reach different corners of the globe has really emphasised the power behind our storytelling as filmmakers.
”The fact that the film is being recognised and acknowledged by different cultures is something we always hoped would happen.”
The inspiration for the film came from writer and director Cassandra Nguyen’s own experience during school where she would often watch the other kids play, until she was befriended by a young girl who would later become a close friend.
Cassandra was lucky enough to attend the Chicago International Children’s Film Festival this October and accept the Children’s Jury Award on closing night.
The Curtin graduates who joined Cassandra Nguyen and Tamara Small to make Play Lunch were Deland Tay (cinematographer), Adriel Bong (editor) and Alex Cahill (sound designer).
The Chicago International Children’s Film Festival is the largest festival of films for children in North America and welcomes 25,000 Chicago-area children, adults and educators each year.
The festival features over 250 films from 40 countries and is one of the few Academy Award qualifying children’s film festivals in the world.
Play Lunch has also screened at Tokyo Kinder Film Festival in Japan, Kid’s First! Film Festival in the United States, Young Cuts Film Festival in Montreal, and the Canberra Short Film Festival.
Curtin has a long and proud tradition of outstanding students and graduates, and counts 2009 Oscar nominee Michael Carlin, AFI award winner Elissa Down, actress Frances O’Connor, and Australian ABC Young Filmmaker of the Year, Benjamin Young, among its alumni.