The film was named as the winner of the first prize at the CinefestOZ festival (Aug. 20-24), in Busselton, West Australia, where the state’s Royalties For Regions program has put up a A$100,000 (US$92,000) award.
The film, which stars Sam Worthington (“Avatar”), is a crowd-pleasing piece of family entertainment about an imaginative young boy who dreams of taking part in the world paper-plane making championships in Japan.
“I made this film for my owns kids,” said Connolly (“The Turning,” “These Final Hours”). “If we don’t make films for our our kids, how should we convince them to watch Australian films in later life?”
It beat competition from the Matthew Saville-directed “Felony,” Stephen-Lance-directed “My Mistress,” Julian Avery-directed and Ewan McGregor-starring “Son of a Gun,” John V. Soto’s “The Reckoning,” and “The Waler: Australia’s Great War Horse,” a documentary reconstruction of a WWI animal odyssey, directed by Russell Vines.
Prizes were unanimously decided by a jury headed by Bruce Beresford (“Driving Miss Daisy”). Bersford said “Paper Planes” is a “charming children’s film which also appeals to adults.”
Australian star actor Joel Edgerton (“The Great Gatsby,” “Zero Dark Thirty”) was given the festival’s Screen Legend Award. Edgerton wrote, produced and starred in “Felony.” In an after-dinner style speech, Edgerton asked if it was a little premature to receive a Legend award, but said that he accepted the compliment gladly.
The festival, which is now in its seventh year, ranges from schools programs, though to targeted film industry events. Backers include the mining giant Rio Tinto, and regional film funding agency ScreenWest.
Three of the finalists — “Son of a Gun,” “The Reckoning” and “Paper Planes” — were shot in the state of West Australia.