• Scene from The Moogai film. (Melbourne International Film Festival)Source: Melbourne International Film Festival
Wiradjuri Bundjalung Yaegl man Jon Bell has taken home an important award for his work writing and directing a short horror film.
Bernadette Clarke

22 Mar 2021 - 4:58 PM  UPDATED 26 Mar 2021 - 11:08 AM

An Indigenous short film, written and directed by Wiradjuri Bundjalung Yaegl man Jon Bell, has been awarded the Jury Prize in the Midnight Short section in the South By Southwest (SXSW) Festival.

'The Moogai' stars Shari Sebbens and Meyne Wyatt, and follows Sarah, a young mother who becomes terrorised by a malevolent spirit she believes is trying to take her children.

The film has been proudly supported by NITV, having been acquired to be shown on the TV channel.

The SXSW Jury spoke highly of the film, saying they were impressed by the film's ambition.

The Moogai is a haunting, psychological thriller that explores postpartum depression in an impressive display of disciplined filmmaking that stuck the landing at every pivotal moment,” 

“The cinematography is striking, the actor’s performances are brave, and the underlying commentary on a country’s forced removal of generations of children is heartbreaking,” the Jury said.

The award ceremony went ahead online where director, Mr Bell, thanked those involved.

"When SXSW contacted me, because I’m a techno doofus, I thought it was because I hadn’t done something right with the online component, so I felt like I was getting called into the principal’s office,” he said.

“But that wasn’t the case – I won.

"Thank you SXSW you sand-baggers, I just want to thank the producers, Kristina Ceyton, Samantha Jennings, Taylor Goddard, and Mitchell Stanley. I also want to thank Screen Australia and a heartfelt thanks to SXSW."

The festival virtually screened 75 features, 84 shorts and music videos, 11 episodic selections, 20 virtual cinema projects, 14 title design entries, and 34 special events. 

'The Moogai': Aboriginal psychological horror film heads to SXSW
"I wanted to tell this story for the Stolen Generations."