WA short film Carmentis has won the inaugural CinefestOZ Short Film Prize.

Carmentis, from writer/director Antony Webb and producer Jaclyn Hewer, beat Carrie’s Doing Great, I Want to Make a Film About Women and The Immortal to win the $5,000 top prize, which was presented at the Short Film Prize awards at the Margaret River HEART on Saturday.

The film tells the story a grief-stricken miner (played by Ben Mortley) who finds himself injured on the desolate planet Carmentis and must overcome his personal demons in order to survive.

“We are so proud to have won the first inaugural short film prize,” Webb and Hewer said. “CinefestOZ is a festival that has become an essential part of the fabric for the Australian screen industry and we couldn’t be more excited to accept such a prestigious award.”

In the other awards categories, Cinewest Best West Australian Short Film went to The Quiet, directed by Radheya Jegatheva and produced by Jay Jay Jegathesan; while the Best Indigenous Short Film was awarded to Doug the Human, directed by Gary Hamaguchi, produced by Jodie Bell and written by Gary Hamaguchi.

Hayley McElhinney picked up the Best Actor award (supported by Annie MM Casting) for her role in Antecedents; Sam Lara and Jess Parker were awarded the WIFTWA supported Best WA Female Short Filmmakers award for Featherweight; and Karen Pearlman took home the Best Director award (supported by the Australian Directors’ Guild) for I Want to Make a Film About Women.

The Audience Choice award will be announced this week.

The CinefestOZ Short Film Prize awards were voted on by a jury of esteemed industry professionals, which included Jury Chairs screenwriter Dot West and producer Taryne Laffar; and Jury members, actors Luke Carroll, Kelton Pell and Kate Walsh and producer Brooke Silcox.

Laffar said voting hadn’t been easy. “It was a privilege and pleasure to view such a dynamic array of shorts,” she said. “It was challenging to judge as we have such wonderful talent in the Australian screen sector. A huge congratulations to the winners and all the films selected.”

West added: “All the films were deadly but it was these filmmakers that stood out for their story and craft.”

The CinefestOZ Short Film Competition, supported by both the Festival and Screenwest, was introduced in 2020 as a way of turning the spotlight on WA and Australian filmmakers.

Selected shorts screened as part of four different sets: Shooting Stars Shorts, showcasing some of the best and brightest talent of Australian short film; Borderless Shorts, bold, fearless filmmaking from Australian storytellers unafraid to push the envelope; Deadly Indigenous Shorts, showcasing short films by Indigenous filmmakers; and Homegrown WA Shorts, demonstrating the enormous talent emanating from Western Australia.

CinefestOZ CEO Malinda Nixon said the quality of short films submitted for competition was extraordinary.

“This year we really wanted to turn the spotlight to our short filmmakers whose work we have been showcasing for years as part of CinefestOZ,” Nixon said.

“This competition really highlighted what outstanding talent we have in this country. It’s been an absolute joy watching such a diverse selection of shorts and we are really looking forward to what our filmmakers present in 2021.”