FESTIVAL: Angus McDonald with his Best Byron Short Film Award
FESTIVAL: Angus McDonald with his Best Byron Short Film Award :yn McCarthy

Lennox artist wins with Manus short film

LENNOX Head artist Angus McDonald picked up the prize for Best Byron Short for his documentary Manus at the Byron Bay Film Festival Awards ceremony.

Mr McDonald directed and produced the 13-minute documentary about the 600 refugees detained on Manus Island using interviews with some of the men filmed by two-time Walkley award-winning journalist Olivia Rousset when she secretly visited the island two years ago.

He crafted the film from 14 hours of footage, editing it down to show only the men speaking about their experience, and changing it from colour to black and white to give it "maximum impact and to make it more beautiful”.

It features a poem by published author and detainee Behrouz Boochani, who also spoke to the Northern Rivers audience via Skype at one of the film's Festival screenings.

A full-time painter for the past 25 years, Mr McDonald became a filmmaker after visiting Greece and seeing the vast numbers of refugees there, mainly Syrians fleeing the civil war.

"I wanted to show this to Australians and decided to use film to reach the greatest number of people, and to advocate for the refugees,” he said.

"The film is a collaboration of many talented people and I share the award with all those who worked so hard to bring it to life.

"Manus is a film that aims to shine a light on the plight of the hundreds of innocent men held by the Federal Government on Manus Island in PNG for over six years, in horrendous conditions.

"Hundreds still remain captive in PNG today, right now- and we dedicate this award to every one of them.

"We hope that recognition like this will contribute to more Australians becoming aware of the cruelty of this policy and get us a little closer to ending it.

"We're very proud to have been awarded Best Byron Film at this year's Byron Film Festival and thanks to the judges,” Mr McDonald said.

The artist was very happy with the rest of the films selected at the event.

"This year's Byron Film Festival was superb, showcasing so many incredible films by talented film-makers both from Australia and Internationally.

"It was a privilege to be selected amongst so much quality and it's no wonder that it is considered amongst the best film festivals in the country.”

Mr McDonald is taking Manus to the UK next week, where it will be shown at the BAFTA-qualifying Aesthetica Festival in York.

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