Home Alone Film Fest

4 June 2020

The Helpmann Academy is thrilled to announce that emerging filmmaker and Flinders University graduate Lucy Gale has been awarded the top prize of $7,000 in the Helpmann Academy Home Alone Film Fest, with her stop motion animation A Very Lockdown Birthday.  

Generously supported by the Nunn Dimos Foundation, the Helpmann Academy Home Alone Film Fest is an online, short-film competition that called on eligible South Australian filmmakers to respond to the theme of ‘creativity in isolation’. The artists were given the opportunity to produce a short piece (under 7 minutes) that shared their thoughts, feelings, stories, images and moments with the greater community as they navigate living and creating through the COVID-19 pandemic.  

Lucy Gale’s short film A Very Lockdown Birthday was selected as the overall winner by a panel of esteemed judges, including director of the Emmy award winning Nanette, Madeleine Parry, Adelaide Film Festival CEO/Creative Director Mat Kesting, award winning documentary director Maya Newell (In My Blood It Runs)acclaimed film/television director, producer and writer Richard Jasek and multi-award winning director Scott Hicks. 

The judges felt that the stop-motion short was beautifully made and was a very Australian expression of the impact of isolation.  

They said, “Lucy Gale’s A Very Lockdown Birthday is an honest, well executed reflection of the experience of COVID-19 in Australia for many. It was thoughtful and entertaining with a wonderful emotional pay off at the end.” 

Lucy says that the prize money, along with the recognition from the judges will help to fuel her career moving forward.

She said, “It’s really rewarding to receive recognition for something I spent so many hours working on in the storage room of my house. I’ve been treating this project as my full-time job; it’s meant I have stayed really productive and been able to learn and grow during coronavirus despite losing my other work. The prize really doubles down on these positives and I feel extremely motivated to keep creating.”

The Film Fest was highly competitive, prompting the addition of a Judge’s Commendation Award, with the Nunn Dimos Foundation generously funding a further prize of $3,000 – bringing the overall prize pool to $13,000. 

Joseph Haxan’s (University of South Australia graduate) Tolf was awarded the JudgeCommendation prize, with the judging panel remarking, “Joseph Haxan’s Tolf is a cinematic experience that exhibits a remarkable creation of mood. From the first sequence, we were instantly immersed in Haxan’s highly atmospheric world.” 

The judges added, “Both these short films are great bookends to the experience of lockdown, demonstrating the full spectrum of creativity during isolation and highlighting that creativity has no boundaries.” 

All 17 shortlisted films are currently hosted on the Helpmann Academy Facebook page, after premiering on Wednesday 3 June. Viewers will be treated with a range of films spanning short documentaries, animated films and live-action. Online audiences were invited to vote on the People’s Choice Award, which was valued at $3,000 via Facebook likes, with the winner announced on Friday, 12 June 

Composer/cabaret artist and University of Adelaide graduate Josh Belperio was awarded the People’s Choice Award, with his moving musical piece In Time – which received the most reactions from an audience that stretched from Australia to the far corners of the world.

Helpmann Academy CEO Jane MacFarlane says that the Helpmann Academy Home Alone Film Fest is just one of a range of innovative offerings that Helpmann has developed in response to COVID-19.  

“Now more than ever the arts community needs to be agile and inventive in the ways that we connect audiences with artists. It is our job as a key supporter of emerging creatives in South Australia to find new ways to allow artists to share their insights and stories. We believe the Helpmann Academy Home Alone Film Fest does just that.”

Images: A Very lockdown Birthday (video still) by Lucy Gale, Tolf (video still) by Joseph Haxan.

Helpmann Academy acknowledges that each film created for the Helpmann Academy Home Alone Film Fest was created on the traditional Country of the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, and we pay respect to Elders past, present and emerging. The Kaurna people were the first and enduring storytellers of this land, and we recognise and respect their cultural heritage, beliefs and relationship with this country.

The Helpmann Academy Home Alone Film Fest is generously supported by the Nunn Dimos Foundation and presented in partnership with the City of Adelaide.



3-12 JUNE 2020


Read more about the judging panel