Local films having world premieres include Mrs Carey’s Concert, Snowtown, The Tall Man, Hail and Here I Am.

The Adelaide Film Festival has awarded the A$25,000 best film prize to the Canadian film Incendies.

The Entertainment One title tells the parallel stories of a mother and the twins who are given letters as part of her will that profoundly change their lives.

To express his gratitude, writer/director Denis Villeneuve has promised that one of the main characters in his next film will be called Adelaide.

The jury, headed by producer and former Karlovy Vary Film Festival programmer Julietta Sichel, also made special mention of Shut Up Little Man! An Audio Misadventure, an Australian film that tells a US story.

Festival director Katrina Sedgwick said the competition was an opportunity to highlight 12 exceptional films, including challenging fare that might otherwise struggle to find audiences.

“It is also an opportunity to get five very interesting people to Adelaide for the duration of the festival, build our relationships with them and immerse them in the Australian industry,” she said. “It is as much about industry development (for Australia) as showcasing films.”

The biggest buzz, unmistakably, was around the Australian films that had their world premieres in Adelaide, including the feature-length films Mrs Carey’s Concert, Snowtown, The Tall Man, Hail and competition title Here I Am.

Several of the titles polarised audiences, in particular Justin Kurzel’s Snowtown, about Australian serial killer John Bunting.

All the Australian films mentioned owe their existence, at least in part, to the Adelaide Film Festival Investment Fund (AFFIF). So too does Shut Up Little Man!, but it was first seen at Sundance — when invited to A-list festivals, Sedgwick overlooks the AFFIF funding condition that a film must premiere at the biennial festival.

Shut Up Little Man! has signed US and Canadian distribution deals but producer Sophie Hyde won’t yet name the distributors. She signed co-representation agreements with New York sales agent Submarine and the LA-based not-for-profit The Film Collaborative in the lead-up to Sundance.

Sedgwick says Australians are eager to see Australian films in a festival context and the challenge is to harness that energy year around. One option is a subscription season in partnership with distributors.

Adelaide’s film festival will never be able to compete on the same terms as the bigger Sydney and Melbourne festivals because of the size of the city, and Sedgwick strives to make it a place where filmmakers gather to see each others’ films, and discuss ideas.

Filmmakers tagged her a “cultural superhero” this year: she was the first in Australia to introduce a competition and also an investment fund, and this year she staged “The Hive”, a five-day residential lab for artists, musicians, filmmakers, theatre workers, dancers, choreographers and writers. It aims to encourage people from other disciplines to cross over into film, in collaboration with filmmakers they have met in Adelaide.

The 10-day festival closed on Sunday night and Sedgwick expects 15% revenue growth compared to 2009. This is “beyond her expectations” given that Adelaide Fringe, a general arts festival, was happening simultaneously.

She has decided that the first quarter of the year is too crowded and will be looking for a new date for 2013.

The Australian International Documentary Conference, held at the same time as the festival, announced that Maya Newell won the F4 Award for outstanding new documentary talent and Sieh Mchawala earned a special mention. Their short documentaries Two and Barefoot In Ethiopia, and those of the two other finalists, were shown as part of the festival.