Animated feature takes prize at short film fest

Sun Feb 20, 2011 10:24pm EST
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SYDNEY (Reuters Life!) - A stop-start animation film featuring animals moving to chanted beat and costing less than A$90 ($90) took the top prize at Australia's Movie Extra Tropfest, a festival of short films.

"Animal Beatbox," by Damon Gameau, featured a trip down a river with different animals moving to the beat.

It was declared the winner of the 19th annual festival by judges, including actress and singer Olivia Newton-John and film director Bruce Beresford, at the Sunday event watched by 150,000 viewers nationwide, organizers said.

The seven-minute film, shot in Gameau's mother's spare room, was described as an "animated poem" by John Polson, the Tropfest's founder and director.

"It made me realize that following my heart is rewarding and I encourage everyone else to do the same," Gameau said.

Second prize went to Jason Van Genderen for "Unspoken," a documentary about the author's father, who is dying of lung cancer, while third prize went to "Maestro," by Adam Anthony.

Simeon Bain, 15, won the junior prize with "Imagine," shot with an iPhone.

Films entered in Tropfest, which bills itself as the "world's largest short film festival," must be no more than seven minutes long and contain a "signature" item announced ahead of time. The signature item this year was "key."

(Reporting by Elaine Lies; editing by Ron Popeski)