Australia’s international smartphone film festival, the Smart Fone Flick Fest (SF3), has announced its winners, with Australian and US filmmakers snatching multiple awards.
This year is the ninth annual film fest, which celebrates the accessibility of mobile phone cameras and the creativity of the best upcoming filmmakers from around the world. There were over 458 submissions, including 28 feature films, by creators from over 60 countries – making it the biggest turnout in the film festival’s history.
Last weekend, over 40 prizes were awarded to finalists at the Actors Centre Australia in Leichhardt.
Los Angeles-based Director and Actress Courtney Coker made an impression with her film Lodi, winning Best Film, Director, Actress and Screenplay awards.
Born in Oregon, Coker has been interested in film creation since an early age. She would create rap parodies for school projects, even borrowing a Canon XL1 to create the films.
Since then, she has continued to progress in her career, becoming an established Producer and Actress in multiple Hollywood blockbusters. Leading up to SF3, Coker worked on Transformers: Bumblebee (2018), Top Gun: Maverick (2022) and Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part I (2023).
For SF3, Croker directed and starred in Lodi. The film follows two sisters on a road trip to visit their dad’s grave. Along this journey, both sisters are confronted by the devastating past, bearing each other’s emotional weight on this introspective story of grief and human connection.
“This is an incredibly personal story, one that took a lot of time and courage to share,” said Coker.
“I decided to film on an iPhone 14 Pro because it felt akin to how I would document a trip with my family. And also because it’s way easier… when you shoot 11 pages in one day and drive over 200 miles in a vintage Mercedes with no aircon!” she explained.
NSW creators also raked up multiple categories. Bevan Garozzo and Arinta Hardjowijono from Sydney’s West won Best Documentary for Bevan – an insight into Garozzo’s life with Down Syndrome.
Glenhaven team Jonathan Lagudi and Bailey Spalding shared Best Screenplay and the #FILMBREAKER award for their film Idiot Proof. This was the duo’s first film they have created, bringing an audacious comedy about friends attempting a heist at their workplace. Lagudi was also the recipient of Best Actor for his role in the movie.
Blending dance and cinematography, Harlisha Newie-Joe’s film Nganakaapu won the Community and Diversity Award. Winning the First Nations Award in 2022, Newie-Joe continues to provide an introspective and personal story about herself and her family. As a proud Goemu Wagadagam woman, she displays her cultural heritage and personal journeys through dance as a form of storytelling.
This year’s First Nations Award recipient went to Randwick-local Charli Fletcher and her film The Locket. This found-footage horror film follows two sisters searching a grave site that has gone viral on social media, only for chaos to ensue.
Several notable winners from across Australia, South Africa and the US also won for their contribution to the Gala Award categories; including SJ van Breda’s Freeflow, securing Best Cinematography and Best Editing and Michele Jedlicka’s That Thing We All Share for Best Female Creative.
Along with the Gala, Awards were also presented for the SF3 Kids awards. For Best Kids High School film, Max Shao and Charlie Bradford’s humorous customer service tale At Your Service received the honours. Meanwhile, Becky Hampson and Sofiah Wiseman’s My Cookie won Best Primary School Film. Indianna Thompson of Frenchs Forest claimed the title of Best Director.
The gripping indie horror film Paralysis, crafted by Levi Austin Morris won the title of Best Feature Film. Greta O’Donogue and Fran Nagle from Newtown clinched the award for Best Mini (Australia) with Mocha Madness. The Best SF360 film was awarded to two recipients, Christopher Young for Thoughts and Davide Rapp for Kursaal.
SF3 Co-founder and Director Angela Blake reflected on the talents from the hundreds of entries received, making 2023 one of the most exciting years for films.
“Receiving almost 500 entries has blown us away and proves that the world is inspired and excited by the possibilities of that little phone in your pocket,” Blake explained.
“As well as professional filmmakers, we have seen so many first-time filmmakers inspired to pick up their phone and shoot their first film. This is exactly why we do this and why we’re thrilled to share this amazing bunch of stories with audiences live and online.”
This year SF3 Online runs from November 18th to December 3rd with additional screenings including the full 10 Best Feature Film finalists and additional Highly-Commended films.
SF3 Online is still running, and will continue till December 3. There will be additional screening of high-commended films and all of the Best Feature Films during this time, so do not miss out on these some incredible award-winning titles.