Film & Television graduates win big at the Sydney Film Festival

Sophie Somerville and Courtney Bombell, Film Still: Peeps, 2019
Sophie Somerville and Courtney Bombell. Film Still: Peeps, 2019

VCA Film and Television graduates, Sophie Somerville and Courtney Bombell have won the prestigious 2021 Dendy Live Action Short Award for their graduation film Peeps (2019) at the Sydney Film Festival.

The short film, written and directed by Somerville and produced by Bombell was one of ten shorts selected to compete at the 2021 Dendy Awards. These coveted awards, announced on the closing night of the Sydney Film Festival, celebrate the best of Australian short film making in partnership with Dendy Cinemas.

The duo’s 18-minute film, which peeks into the world of turbulent teenagers on an after-school shopping trip, took out the illustrious Dendy Live Action Short Award with a cash prize of $7,000.

The Dendy Award Jury comprising producer Emile Sherman, producer-director Sheila Jayadev and 2020 Dendy Award winner Alex Wu, described Peeps as “soaring, operatic” and “a highly original opus.”

Donna Lyon, Senior Lecturer in Film and Television at the VCA who was elated to hear about the win said, “Peeps is such a funny and engaging film that feels at times like a contemporary social experiment! The film has toured incredibly well on the international film festival circuit and it is wonderful for the team to now take home such a prestigious award.”

Sophie Somerville and Courtney Bombell. Film Still: Peeps, 2019

Peeps, which sits at the intersection of art and comedy, is creatively narrated by the birds that roost in the rafters of the shopping centre where the short film takes place.

Sophie said of the win; “I am absolutely thrilled that Peeps has won the Dendy award. I was so lucky to have the support that I had at VCA while making the film and to have found five fabulous and daring young actors who were just as enthusiastic about hanging around at a shopping mall as I was.”

Courtney said "We are so proud of the film, and happy that all those afternoons at the mall finally paid off.”

Now in its 52nd year, the Dendy Awards is the longest-running short film competition in the country and has launched the careers of many prominent film-makers including Cate Shortland, Jane Campion, Phillip Noyce, and VCA alum Ariel Kleiman.

Winners of the Dendy Live Action Short Film Award are Academy-Award eligible and have new pathways opened to them as filmmakers in Australia.