Local Filmmakers win gold at the Australian Academy Awards

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Local Filmmakers win gold at the Australian Academy Awards

Written by Screen Illawarra

The Illawarra screen community are celebrating after several members picked up the prestigious trophy at the premiere film awards in Australia, the Australian Academy Awards. Dubbed the Australian Oscars, the event is run by AACTA the Australian Academy of Cinema Television and the Arts and is held at HOTA in The Gold Coast.

  • Best Short Film for Finding Addison, by Francisca Braithwaite (Balgownie), Jess Milne and Nick Bolton (Bulli)
  • Best Original Score in Documentary for The Dark Emu Story by Damien Lane (West Wollongong)
  • Best Casting in Film for Shayda by Anousha Zarkesh (Austinmer)

Balgownie Writer, Director, Producer and Actor Francisca Braithwaite from Blue Sparrow Entertainment celebrated winning Best Short Film for her film Finding Addison. Joining Francisca’s group was Director of Photography and Executive Producer Jess Milne, and Actor and Executive Producer Nick Bolton, from Bulli production company Ten Alphas, along with Script Continuity Advisor Tony Barea from Primbee and Unit Stills Photographer Chris Toomer from Balgownie.

Francisca commented: “This is beyond our wildest dreams. We were long-listed along with 90 other films which was exciting enough, then to be shortlisted and nominated in the top 6 was incredible. Then when our name was read out, it was a dream come true. This is the highest honour in the film industry and sets us up for taking our future Film and Television projects to market.”

Led by themes of identity, acceptance and forgiveness, Finding Addison follows two best friends who share a life-changing secret, until a knock at the door three decades later reveals the truth.

“The film was inspired by a personal story of a friend of mine, who found out that she was adopted and then went in search of her birth mother,” says Francisca, who wrote, directed, produced and starred in the 29-minute film.

Finding Addison was filmed in April at her parents’ home in Balgownie and in Berkeley. The film also features local landmarks, including the Balgownie Mini Mart where the teenage stars steal a pregnancy testing kit. “ Tony from Balgownie Mini Mart was so accomodating and supportive, closing his store just so we could film our scenes. The Balgownie Junior Soccer Club were also a huge support so a huge shout-out to them for being so wonderful.”

Director of Photography Jess Milne enjoyed filming in her hometown. “my work takes me all over Australia yet here we are telling a local story, made by locals and we win an Academy Award! It gives us so much confidence to make more stories about the Illawarra for the Illawarra that resonate nationally and globally.”

Composer Damien Lane from West Wollongong was nominated four times for his music composition and picked up the gong for Best Original Score in Documentary for The Dark Emu.

“Being nominated at the awards is such an honour and to win is just incredible” said Damien. “it is great to see the Illawarra do so well on a national level showing we have really strong local talent!.”

Austinmer’s Anousha Zarkesh, Casting Director, was nominated for Best Casting in Film for Shayda, and in Warwick Thornton’s New Boy featuring Cate Blanchett and Thirroul’s Deborah Mailman. Anousha says “the AACTA’s are the pinnacle in the Australian screen industry and just to be nominated is amazing. It was so good to celebrate with Fran, Jess, Nick and Damien.”

Another local, Matt Bonnici from Wollongong worked in the Art Department on Streets of Colour that was nominated for Best Independent Feature film.

Nick Bolton, the Chair of Screen Illawarra, and Executive Producer of Finding Addison, commented “it was a proud moment to see so many Illawarra locals being recognised nationally for producing such impressive work on our screens. This really shows that our local screen community is thriving and competing with the very best in Australia. We are very grateful for the support we receive from Invest Wollongong and Screen NSW to grow our sector here and hope this national recognition provides the impetus for more stakeholders to support us and build a thriving screen sector.”

Screen Illawarra shall be holding a screening night soon to showcase the work that was nominated at the Academy Awards.

For more information, head to www.screenillawarra.com