The Kettering Incident, Episode 1 by Victoria Madden

The Kettering Incident, Episode 1 by Victoria Madden (Porchlight Films in association with Sweet Potato Films)

Judges' Comments

London-based Dr Anna Macy is losing blocks of time — again — and suddenly finds herself back where it began, in the remote town of Kettering, Tasmania. She left fourteen years ago following the disappearance of her best friend, who vanished from the forest shortly after they both saw strange lights in the sky. Secrets and suspicion abound as Anna finds her hometown being torn apart by violent clashes between loggers and environmentalists. And soon the ghosts of Anna’s past begin to drift back in like the thickening mist.

Madden masterfully launches this intriguing gothic thriller in a sophisticated first episode that never strains after effect, instead generating power from what it leaves unsaid. Her story unfolds sparingly, as ethereal and atmospheric as the setting. The strong, organic characters that emerge in Kettering could exist in no other location, providing a stark contrast to Anna, the perennial outsider. Added to this is a sense of Madden’s understanding of the preoccupations of this location — isolation, small town gossip, Greenies versus loggers — against the backdrop of its otherworldliness. This compelling screenplay elevates the Australian thriller to new heights.