In an Australian first, Melbourne director Grant Scicluna has taken out the coveted top prize at the world’s ‘gay short film Oscars’ for his striking work, The Wilding.

Scicluna last week won the 2012 Iris Prize, the wealthiest annual prize awarded to the best queer short film in the world.

“It’s absolutely incredible, I kind of feel just humbled by the whole thing,” Scicluna told the Star Observer.

“There were six Australian [films] out of the 30 nominated films, I’d seen all of their films and loved them, so for us to win was a humbling experience because I just knew so many great, great filmmakers that were up.”

The Wilding follows juvenile inmate Malcolm who is in love with his cellmate, Tye, but when Malcolm is offered parole, his actions make Tye a target and force Malcolm to choose between freedom and protecting the one he loves.

A week on since the announcement, Scicluna said it had not sunk in yet that he was officially an internationally acclaimed director.

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“The prize I won still hasn’t sunk in either,” he admitted.

The Iris Prize itself is worth £25,000 (AU$38,750) of funding, support and guidance to make another short film in the UK, although Scicluna said he may not start it until 2014.

“Very few filmmakers get the chance to make a short film in another country and I just think it’s going to be incredible for me because it will really stretch me,” he said.

The announcement was made in Cardiff, Wales on October 16, although Scicluna admitted he had slept through the momentous occasion.

“When I worked out the time difference… the announcement was going to be about one o’clock in the morning and I’d managed to convince myself that we weren’t winning anyway, so I went to sleep,” he said.

When he woke up, Scicluna said he had been inundated with messages of congratulations on social media from around the world.

Grant Scicluna at MQFF

Iris Prize Jury chairwoman Lisa Power said The Wilding was “a special film which demanded attention”.

“It took a familiar trope and turned it into an extraordinary story,” she said.

Scicluna said he wanted to pay a special mention to the other five Australian nominations and said it was a huge achievement for Australian queer film.

Melbourne Queer Film Festival (MQFF) director Lisa Daniel told the Star Observer the team at MQFF were incredibly proud of Scicluna’s win.

“It’s fantastic that talented, independent filmmakers from Australia are getting acknowledged overseas and the Queer Film Festival is proud to have played a tiny role in having screened his premiere in 2012,” Daniel said.

Earlier this year, Scicluna won the Melbourne Queer Film Festival’s Emerging Filmmaker Award and the Best Australian Short Audience Choice Award for The Wilding.

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