A self-financed debut film about zombies has been awarded the 2003 FIPRESCI Award for Emerging Filmmakers at the Melbourne International Film Festival.

Undead, directed by Queensland brothers Michael and Peter Spierig, was earlier this year picked up for distribution in the US by Lions Gate. It set to be released in Australia by Imagine Entertainment, and has sold to a further 21 countries.

The Melbourne jury said the film won "for daring to be everything that Australian films are not supposed to be - part of a popular, disreputable genre. We commend it as an entertainment that is also political, while showing the pleasure of hands-on filmmaking."

Undead was filmed over 60 days for less than US$700,000 (A$1m) and features 305 gory special effects. The twin brothers shared the writing, directing, producing and editing roles.

The award is a partnership between the Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF), the International Federation of Film Critics (FIPRESCI) and the Film Critics Circle of Australia (FCCA).

This year's jury comprised Argentinian film critic Eduardo (Quintin) Antin, Indian critic Gautaman Bhaskaran, and Adelaide-based academic and critic Mike Walsh. MIFF experienced a 17% box office increase and double the number of sold out sessions this year compared to last.