The fact that it stars Sonia Braga – best known as the iconic sapphic artist Maria from Sex and The City season four – is no longer the most interesting thing about Aquarius now that the Kleber Mendonça Filho-directed film has claimed the top prize at the Sydney Film Festival.

The Cannes alumni Aquarius won the prestigious Sydney Film Prize on the last day of the festival, beating out 11 other Official Competition entries screening over the last 12 days to claim a cash prize of $63,000. The Brazilian film centres on Braga’s character Clara, a retired 65-year-old widow and music critic who enters into a tense standoff with a mysterious development company attempting to buy out the entirety of the film’s eponymous apartment block – a confrontation that casts her daily routine into an entirely new light. The film also reportedly features graphic sex scene in flashback form, including an explicit orgy and an encounter with a gigolo, meaning that perhaps it has more in common with Sex and The City than I’d previously considered. 

Other top honours went to Sydney filmmaker Dan Jackson, who received the Documentary Australia Foundation Award for Australian Documentary, a $15,000 cash prize, for another film set in Brazil, In the Shadow of the Hill; the Event Cinema Australian Short Screenplay Award went to Spice Sisters, which was written and directed by Sheila Jayadev, who received a $5,000 cash prize; and the Sydney UNESCO City of Film Prize went to Ms Lynette Wallworth, who received $10,000 prize awarded by Screen NSW and presented by Margaret Pomeranz, the latter part being priceless.

You can find all of the winners and more here

Tile and cover image: Supplied courtesy of SFF/Aquarius

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