AACTA Film Fest | Annie Parnell's Top Picks

Article by Sydney Film Fest host Annie Parnell


A Best Indie Film candidate (recognising Australian films made with a budget under $2 million), WEST OF SUNSHINE has already been the toast of the town at Venice last year and the Sydney and Melbourne Film Festivals this year, featuring Damian Hill (PAWNO) together with his real life step-son, Ty Perham, playing his on-screen son, in a tale that brings gritty and heart-rending performances to the big screen. A story about battlers, about making decisions that desperation drives you to, and keeping your family close. I enjoyed this film for it’s raw, emotional scope and the strong performances.

WEST OF SUNSHINE will open AACTA Film Fest in Melbourne on 4 September (RSVP here) and will screen in Sydney on 5 September, Brisbane on 16 September and on AACTA TV as part of AACTA Film Fest (see more here).


To anyone who watched the short film CARGO at Tropfest a few years back, and there have been well over 14 million people and counting on YouTube so far, this new feature, written by Yolanda Ramke co-directed with Ben Howling, expands the idea of the zombie flick way beyond genre, and manages to combine aboriginal themes with zombie horror and storing emotional feeling. Really great performances from the lead actors have definitely helped make this film one that I could watch again and like so many Australian films the cinematography is really wonderful, lensed by the great Geoffrey Simpson.

CARGO will screen in Sydney on 10 September, in Melbourne on 5 September, in Brisbane on 12 September and on AACTA TV as part of AACTA Film Fest (see more here).


Warwick Thornton never ceases to amaze with his talent for not just writing and directing but at bringing home the truth to audiences who may come unprepared for the striking and often harsh reality his films capture. SWEET COUNTRY has been acclaimed internationally, but that’s not the real reason this film resonates. It’s remarkable storytelling that explores and examines whilst at the same time tearing the scab off the still fresh wound made by colonialism. The cinematography again is a winner for me in this film, with both Warwick and his son Dylan River taking credit. It’s majestic and tragic at the same time and as with all Warwick’s films I’ve seen, gives such a strong sense of country and connection that hits home.

SWEET COUNTRY will screen in Brisbane on 12 September and on AACTA TV as part of AACTA Film Fest (see more here).


This film is a pure delight in so many ways and it held me captivated the whole way through. It’s hard to fault the story of PETER RABBIT™, known to many generations, the animation from Animal Logic really is top notch and with many wonderful and engaging actors voicing the roles so familiar to readers of Beatrix Potter, the story leaps off the page like a bunny rabbit over a garden fence! I loved this film for creating a magical world that while very English, has a cheekiness that I felt the Australian cast and crew certainly bought to it, once again showcasing our depth of talent both behind and in front of the camera.

PETER RABBIT™ will screen on AACTA TV as part of AACTA Film Fest (see more here).


AACTA Film Fest screenings and AACTA TV are exclusive and complimentary to AFI | AACTA members. Membership is open to everyone and starts from just $70! Click here to join today and enjoy AACTA's Film Fest, Shorts Fest and Docs Fest as well as over $650 worth of annual benefits and events.


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