In the feature film realm, Swiss animated effort My Life as a Courgette took the top honours for its stop-motion tale about a blue-haired orphan making friends in a children's home. The gorgeous movie is as charming as it sounds, and not just because it makes the most of every one of its brief 65 minutes. It also follows in the footsteps of other crowd-pleasing childhood-themed audience faves, with Irish animation Song of the Sea, Richard Linklater's twelve-years-in-the making Boyhood and Laos-set Aussie feature The Rocket emerging victorious over the past three years.
The MIFF audience also anoints their pick of the fest's docos, too, with Australian filmmaker Aaron Petersen taking out the award for his debut effort, Zach's Ceremony. Offering an insight into the coming-of-age of an Aboriginal boy approaching his 16th birthday, the film has clearly proven a hit with viewers around the country — it also won the same gong at this year's Sydney Film Festival.
Okay, so we know we said that only two films count; however a host of others festival highlights also made MIFF's top ten feature and documentary lists. Narrative fans loved The Handmaiden's erotic thrills, EMO the Musical's homegrown high school amusement, Toni Erdmann's lengthy laughs and all 317 minutes of Japanese drama Happy Hour, among others. True tale aficionados warmed to The Eagle Huntress' inspiring account of Mongolia's first female eagle hunter, Servant or Slave's harrowing chronicle of Australia's history of domestic servitude, Tickled's has-to-be-seen-to-be-believed peek inside the world of competitive enduring tickling and Life, Animated's sweet look at the power of Disney movies.
The 2016 Melbourne International Film Festival ran from July 28 to August 14. For a complete list of audience award winners, visit the MIFF website.