There are few short film awards that boast a more impressive winning list than the Grand Prix at the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). The prize was first handed out in 1965, as MIFF had already existed for over a decade. Award winners include names like Werner Herzog, City of God-the duo Kátia Lund and Fernando Meirelles, Denis Villeneuve and Sue Friedrich. The festival equals the categories in terms of eligibility for the award: Any short film in any section – experimental film, fiction or documentary – is a candidate and possible winner of the Grand Prix.
Low budget films Prisoner of Society by Rati Tsiteladzes of Georgia, and House of JXN of the American duo Rosie Haber and Lauren Cioffi stood out for this year's program. With a playing time of 16 and 9 minutes respectively, these films – like many of the best documentaries – represent a small but enlightening window to hidden, underreported corners of the world. The two films take on an empathetic attitude towards their protagonists, who, from birth, must deal with nightmarish circumstances that reveal prejudice-driven patterns of social dysfunction.
House of JXN is a sweet introduction to "rainbow families".
Tsiteladze's background is unusual for a filmmaker: the 30-year-old from the seaside resort of Batumi on the Black Sea has occasionally worked as a photo model (the sexy pictures of the muscle bundle are still popular online) and became world champion in kickboxing. . .
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