Movie men shine at Byron festival

March 21, 2010 by Henry Benjamin
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Film producer Simon Ritch has taken out the award for the Best Short Film at the Byron Bay International Film Festival

Simon Ritch makes his acceptance speech

The 31-yr-old Sydney film-maker produced the 29 minute movie Dark Horse about a Sydney taxi driver who has immigrated to Australia from Laos.

Minh Tran is a lonely taxi driver whose relationship with his wife has disintegrated following a miscarriage. One night his path crosses that of Isabella Fortino, a girl forced into prostitution by her boyfriend. Minh’s show of kindness to Isabella leads to an unlikely connection as they lose themselves in each other’s company and leave their troubled lives behind.

The movie, financed by Screen NSW, was directed my Marc Furmie and a clip can be viewed here.

Ritch and Furmie work together producing commercials and video clips. Ritch told J-Wire: “We have hopeful plans to make it in the feature film world. We have a project underway entitled “Azriel” written and to be directed by Marc, which I will produce.

Dark Horse has been selected for screening at twelve film festivals including international events hosted by India, Thailand, Ireland, South Africa, Egypt and in the U.S. in Phoenix and San Luis Obispo.

Marc Furmie and Simon Ritch

Also receiving a special mention at the Film Festival was 23-yr-old  Kane Senes, whose film Forfeit of Grace was selected in the under-25 section. Senes wrote, produced and directed the 16 min film which tells the story of a man discovering a kidnapped girl in a secluded motel. He struggles to save her, finding redemption for his own violent past.

Kane Senes on the set in Hollywood

Senes is studying for a Masters of Fine Arts in film-making at the New York Film Academy.

His film was mentioned by the presenter who said “I was very surprised at the quality of the films being shown”.

850 films were submitted to the Byron Bay Film Festival from around the world. 172 were selected. This is Senes’s third successful selection.

Senes is currently studying film at Universal Studios in Hollywood.

Ritch and Senes are both Sydneysiders.

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