Yorgos Lanthimos' 'Alps' Wins Australia’s Richest Film Prize

The new winner of the Sydney Film Festival official competition stars Aggeliki Papoulia, Aris Servetalis and Johnny Verkis.

SYDNEY - Greek black comedy Alps, directed by Yorgos Lanthimos, has beaten out contenders including Beasts of the Southern Wild (Sundance Film Festival winner), Caesar Must Die (Berlinale's Golden Bear winner) and Gangs of Wasseypur (Cannes Directors Fortnight selection) to take out the fifth Sydney Film Festival Official competition.

Announcing the winner of the $60,000 Sydney film prize on the closing day of the festival Sunday, jury president, actor and director Rachel Ward, said "Alps melds pathos, black humor and taut menace in a film that is at once challenging and highly rewarding. A finely calibrated, absurdist study of power and identity, Alps is intelligent, uniquely emotive filmmaking from an important new voice in Greek cinema."

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Alps follows a secret club whose members are paid to act as replacements for the recently deceased. Its Lanthimos’ follow up to his Cannes Un Certain Regard winner, Dogtooth.

Told of his win on waking up in Greece, Lanthimos said "I never expected such a nice wakeup call today. We are all extremely happy."

The competition this year, all Australian premières, also featured two local films directed by husband and wife, Cate Shortland (Lore) and Tony Krawitz (Dead Europe), competing against each other, as well as the first South Korean film in SFF’s official competition, The King of Pigs; the Oscar-nominated drama Monsieur Lazhar; Brazilian director Kleber Mendonça Filho's Neighbouring Sounds; Jack Kerouac’s work brought to life by Walter Salles' On The Road; winner of the Fipresci Jury Prize at Berlinale, Miguel GomesTabu, and Senegalese drama Today by Alain Gomis.

Ticket sales for the festival in total -- overseen by South African Nashen Moodley in his first season as creative director, and which included the world premiere of the Ryan Kwanten-starrer Not Suitable for Children as the opening night film and the Australian première of Disney Pixar’s Brave amongst the 220 sessions of films screened over 12 days -- saw a 10 percent increase on the 2011 program. Official figures for the festival will be released shortly.