The Thessaloniki International Film Festival announced its official awards last Saturday, and a small independent Australian film made quite an impact.
Josh Lawson’s The Little Death, a completely NSFW film was one of four films that took out the Audience Award at the festival.

The film was adored by the public as a witty comedy, even though the explicit and edgy content of the film is not something we usually come across.
Director/actor Josh Lawson, exposes the secret sex lives and darkest fantasies of some couples living in Sydney. Role-playing, swinging, sexual assault, phone sex, fetishes, trauma and more. The couples in the film struggle with honesty while they are trying to overcome their relationships’ downfall and death of sex life day by day, using a completely different sexual language.

A woman tries to convince her husband to fulfil her sexual assault fantasy, another woman gets aroused only when she makes her husband cry, a sign-
language interpreter makes an effort to translate a sex-phone call to a deaf person, a man wants to have sex with his wife only when she’s sleeping, while another one decides to become an actor the moment role-playing goes a little bit too far.
It was someone confessing to a rape fantasy at a dinner party many years ago that sparked the idea for Australian director Josh Lawson of a film about fetishes.

Violence is rather tricky territory, even though Lawson seems to have approached it in a sensitive way.

“When you think about this film, keep in mind what never happens, what actually never happens, what is only talked about,” he says.

“I guess what I explore is at what point can you say in a relationship, ‘these are my deepest, darkest secrets and I love you enough to tell you … I didn’t choose to have this fantasy, I didn’t train myself to have it, I just have it’.

“And that’s what a fantasy is, that’s what a fetish is. You know, drama is life with the boring bits cut out, so I wrote this, exploring that idea with two people who love each other very much, candid discussions go on, and yes, it gets out of control. I certainly never set out to make a film to shock. I set out to make a film to unite people, to unify people on a subject that actually does bond us all together, but I did set out to make a film that was unlike any film made before.”

The film was awarded alongside Manos Karystinos’ Dark Illusion from Greece, Ivan Tverdovsky’s Correction Class filmed between Russia and Germany, and Isa Qosja’s Three Windows and a Hanging, which is a Kosovan-German co-production.

The festival’s highest distinction, the Golden Alexander – Theo Angelopoulos Award, was handed out to the film Perpetual Sadness by Jorge Pérez Solano from Mexico. Israeli Asaf Korman’s film Next to Her gained a high distinction, receiving The Special Jury Award – Silver Alexander, while Kristina Grozeva and Petar Valchanov’s The Lesson got the Special Jury Award for Originality and Innovation – Bronze Alexander – as a Greek-Bulgarian co-production. Miroslav Slaboshpitsky tapped Best Director for his work on The Tribe from Ukraine.

Greek director and music producer Yiannis Veslemes was distinguished as best of show by the FIPRESCI Jury, with Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s Goodnight Mommy film from Austria receiving the Jury International Award. The Greek film Polk, by Nikos Nikolopoulos and Vledimiros Nikolouzos, received very positive reviews. Yiannis Economides won the Greek Film Critics’ Association’s Award for his 30-year contribution to the festival. Honorary awards were bestowed upon Hanna Schygulla, Voula Zouboulaki, Anna Synodinou as well as Pantelis Voulgaris and Lakis Papastathis as part of celebrating 100 years of Greek cinema.