We are proud to announce the winner of the Senses of Cinema-UniSA Essay Prize, awarded to the best published work in 2022 by an Australian contributor. This prize is supported by the University of South Australia to support and showcase critical, informed writing on film and related media, build professional opportunities for film scholars, writers and critics, and contribute actively towards a vibrant film culture.

The judging panel of this year’s prize includes Senses of Cinema managing editor Abel Muñoz-Hénonin, and Cerise Howard, writer and newly-appointed director of the Melbourne Queer Film Festival, and Stuart Richards, senior lecturer in screen studies at UniSA. We are very grateful to the panel for their deliberation and expertise in awarding the prize this year.

And now, for the announcement! The winner is… Nonie May for her article An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) published in our ‘MIFF at 70’ dossier in issue 102. Well done, Nonie, on a superb analysis of a moving film. The judges would also like to give an honourable mention to Caitlin Wilson for ‘Cringing Violently: Reparative Watching, Phenomenology and Discomfort in Australian Cinema’ published in issue 101. Well done, Caitlin!

Jury Statements

Nonie May’s essay on An Cailín Ciúin (The Quiet Girl) is a superb example of writing that is as critically astute as it is personally – and universally – significant. This essay is an outstanding example of personal writing compounded with a deep reflection and first class research, which renders a compelling reading both in aesthetic and argumentative terms.

When subjectivity and objectivity, in equal balance, are fused in impassioned critical writing, there is a critical alchemy that elevates that writing, conferring upon it a phenomenological, transportive dimension for the reader; it becomes an essay that matters. That this essay celebrates a film presented in a First Nations tongue makes it all the more valuable – such films, and their promotion of once-deprecated languages, matter too. A wonderful accomplishment.

 Caitlin Wilson’s “Cringing Violently” is the reparative reckoning with Australian cringe culture we (didn’t necessarily know we) needed to have. And how! By articulating how the Australian viewer can embrace the terrible discomfort produced by (the likes of) Wake in Frightand The Nightingale, rather than recoil from it – to be present and steeped in these films’ visceral horror, rather than trying to absent oneself from it or to attempt to view it without feeling it; that’s how. We find that this essay is a provoking study of our uncomfortable subaltern perception of a national cinema, and the implicit violences of Australia’s history.

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