‘The Moogai’: Aboriginal Short Film Wins SXSW Jury Prize

Short film The Moogai, directed by Wiradjuri and Bundjalung filmmaker Jon Bell, has won the SXSW jury prize.

‘The Moogai’ 2020 Causeway Films | Credit: Caitlin Murray Design

The short thriller stars Shari Sebbens and Meyne Wyatt and portrays a mother who is frightened by the thought of a malevolent spirit taking her newborn baby.

The SXSW jury described the short film as

“a haunting, psychological thriller that explores postpartum depression in an impressive display of disciplined filmmaking that stuck the landing at every pivotal movement.”

Source: Causeway Films

The short horror film draws on the horror of Australia’s stolen generation. The film also evokes the personal experiences and fears of its director. It has been described as following in the tradition of horror films that provide cultural commentary, including Get Out and Rosemary’s Baby.

Real Life Horrors

Credit: National Indigenous Radio Service

Speaking to Jason Whyte, Bell revealed some of his creative ideas and inspirations for the film.

“There was a few subjects that I wanted to explore about Aboriginal existence. The first one was about the ‘Stolen Generation’, which referred to a period when Australia had the White policy in effect”.

Source: Get Reel Movies

Bell also reflected on his own experiences and feelings.

“The fear is still very present. It haunts us. And that naturally translated into a story about a young family being haunted  by a malevolent spirit that wants to take their children. “

The Moogai was previously nominated for an AACTA Award 2020 Best Short film. It also managed to take out the Erwin Rado at last years Melbourne’s International Film Festival.

If you’re looking for a film that is frightening, insightful and will keep you on the edge of your seat, this film is for you.

The psychological thriller will be on available to Australian viewers later in 2021.

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