I’ve just learned that Ten Canoes, the first (of many, we hope) full-length films made in an Australian language, has taken the “Grand Prize for Best Film” at the Flanders Film festival in Ghent, Belgium. This award includes a cash prize (€20,000) to be used for distribution in Flanders and Brussels.

Ten Canoes also took the ‘Special Jury Prize’ (I suppose that’s a consolation prize) at Cannes earlier in the year. Then, in late August, it won a silver medallion (not that I have any idea what that means) at the Telluride Film Festival in the US.

If you didn’t already know, Ten Canoes is Australia’s official entry for the category of Best Foreign-Language Film at the Academy Awards in 2007. So all these other accolades bode well for its chances in the Oscars.

But, so what? I mean, the Oscars are usually just a bunch of film industry types getting together once a year to massage each other’s bits and to congratulate each other on being great, right? Well maybe. But considering this is the first full-length film to be made in an indigenous Australian language (Ganalbingu, to be specific), getting at least a mention at the Oscars would be a serious boost for the plight of languages in this country. Although I can already sense some glaring errors – one Belgian newspaper who shall remain unnamed included this in their review:

It’s the first film ever to have been completely made in the Aboriginal language. The cast too consists almost entirely of Aborigines.

The Aboriginal language? An almost entirely Aboriginal cast? Oh well. They gave it a good review.

If you haven’t seen it yet, do so!