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  • Writer's pictureMade in the West Film Festival


It’s no secret that Western Sydney is full of stories that pack a punch! We already know that this year's film festival selections are going to knock your socks off, so we can’t wait for November 24 when we roll out the red carpet for Western Sydney filmmakers and celebrate the year of short films. As you can imagine, we're twice as excited this year because we'll be showcasing Western Sydney on the big screen IN FULL DCP at Event Cinemas! (By the way, if you haven’t entered your film yet, now’s your last chance - late entries will be accepted until the end of next week only!)

Every year, as film entries start rolling in, the team at Still Searchin' thinks to ourselves - thank goodness for our festival judges!!

Since 2014, Made in the West has brought together an independent panel of professional filmmakers to decide the winners of our awards. It takes the stress off us from having to decide who wins, and besides, we love finding out who the judges think is the pick of the field! This way we get to remain impartial and leave it in the hands of our highly qualified judging panel.

In 2018, we are happy to announce we have NINE wonderful judges, whose screen mastery and years of film making experience will combine to help us decide who wins this year’s crystal trophies.

The judges’ collective scores determine who will take home our two major trophies - Best Student Film and Best in the West (for indie filmmakers). Plus, their nominations decide our individual category winners - this year there are eight individual awards up for grabs: Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Cinematographer, Best Editor, Best Sound Design, Best Original Score, Best Actress and Best Actor.

But remember - the most important final judge on the night is YOU!

That’s right - we’re inviting you to come along to the festival, strut your stuff on the red carpet, join us for a marathon screening of Western Sydney’s best short films and then VOTE for who you think should take home the highly coveted Audience Choice Award.


Julie Kalceff is an award-winning writer, director and producer and a graduate of the Australian Film Television and Radio School with a Masters Degree in Scriptwriting. She is the creator of the hit drama Starting From Now... - one of Australia’s most successful multi-platform projects - amassing over 100 million views and watched in over 230 countries around the world. Julie recently received development funding through Screen Australia’s Gender Matters initiative for her half-hour drama series Torn and was commissioned by the ABC to write and direct First Day, a children’s television episode about a 12 year-old transgender girl starting high school. This is Julie’s first year as a judge for Made in the West and we’re super excited to welcome her to our judging panel!


Dr Craig Morgan is an active Board Member of the Australian Guild of Screen Composers (AGSC). Craig is an annual jury member for the Australian Academy of Cinematic and Television Arts (AACTA), Tropfest, Tropscore and KidzFlickz - and more recently The Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA). Craig holds a Graduate Diploma of Screen Music from Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) – his major project ‘PIG’ was an Official Selection 61st Berlin International Film Festival in 2011. Craig also holds a world-class Master of Science (MSc) Research publication from Macquarie University and a groundbreaking Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from The University of Sydney. 2018 marks Craig’s first time with us as a judge and we couldn’t be happier to have him on the panel!

ANNABEL DAVIS Annabel Davis is the Screen Program Manager at Curiousworks’ sister project Co-Curious and has an extensive history and experience in creating proposals for arts and film funding bodies and forging new alliances with industry to strengthen relationships across industry, government and community arts organisations. Annabel spent seven years at the Australian Writers’ Guild, where she was instrumental in developing their Pathways Program which linked talented writers with producers and key industry decision-makers. She also helped the establishment of Scripted Ink, which provides world-first development opportunities to Australian writers. Annabel’s background also includes working on a range of Australian and international television drama series, ArtsNSW, and boutique film and video production companies. This is Annabel’s first time judging on the Made in the West panel and we warmly welcome her expertise!


Heath Davis is a writer and director joining our judging panel fresh off the back of his premiere tour for his latest feature film Book Week, currently screening in selected cinemas around the country. Growing up in Glenmore Park and attending St Mary’s SHS and Western Sydney University, Heath is a local hero among Western Sydney's emerging filmmaker community. His directorial vision sees Western Sydney not just as the backdrop of his films, but as a central part of the entire production - from using local actors, local musicians - his community is involved with the entire production process. Heath's last feature film Broke won him a Best Screenplay award at SENE Film Festival. We are excited that he will be joining us as a judge this year!


Michael Hamish Budd is an award-winning actor, director and producer based in Emu Heights. He is best known for playing Esmael, alongside Henry Cavill and Sigourney Weaver in The Cold Light of Day (2012) and playing the Zion Controller in The Matrix Reloaded (2003). His directorial debut, Love of my Life (2012), starred Logie winner Peter O’Brien and his second feature film Life of the Party, starring Holly Brisley, premiered in cinemas around the country in 2017. He is the owner of production company Amazing People Pictures, based at Fox Studios, and his most recent feature film Enter Sanctum is due for release later this year. We’re stoked that Michael could join us again for his third year on our judging panel!


David Byrne heads up production company The Rusty Cage and has over a decade of experience producing film and television content for global audiences. He grew up in the Blue Mountains and the idea of being a TV producer seemed a world away, but now he creates everything from commercials and promotional material, to documentaries and television series. Currently, he’s working on several documentaries covering topics including domestic violence, history and adventure sport. He also produces the long-running television series The Travel Bug and has recently been on location filming My Greek Odyssey, exploring the Greek Islands on a super yacht. We are very proud to welcome David back for his third time as a judge!


Dr Rachel Bentley is the former CEO of Television Sydney and now the director of Rich Media in Digital Futures at Western Sydney University. She is a documentary film and television producer and her 2015 multi-platform project Cutback features Sydney street artists in conversation with graffiti artists from around the world and her Cutback documentary now screens on SBS. Rachel has always been a strong supporter of emerging Western Sydney filmmakers, offering her time to the festival for the last five years, and we are delighted to have her on our judging panel again!


Dr Iqbal Barkat is a digital artist and filmmaker. His artistic practice is based in Western Sydney which is also the home of Filigree Films, the filmmaking company he co-founded. He teaches screen production at Macquarie University and is a proponent and practitioner of community and participatory arts, specialising in works involving a combination of actors and non-actors. His projects are often hybrid as they emanate from real settings but include fictional elements and involve the intersection of digital media with other art forms. His latest feature film Mortars explores the unlikely friendship of an elderly woman and a young refugee. This is his fifth year working with us as judge at Made in the West and we are pleased to have him with us again.


Dan Krige first tasted international success - and a BAFTA nod - at the age of 23 for his episode of the Hugh Jackman vehicle Correlli. His critically acclaimed first feature, West (2007) was written and filmed in Western Sydney. HBO picked up his second feature, Inhuman Resources, which was released in 2012. As an actor, Dan has appeared in Catching Milat, Redfern Now, Home and Away and Brothers in Arms to name a few, plus an episode of Bryan Brown’s Twisted Tales, which he also wrote and directed. He has recently written, directed, produced and starred in the multi-award winning short-form series The Agent. This is the third time Dan has been a judge at Made in the West and we're happy to have his keen eye back on the panel!


From the entire team here at Made in the West and everyone involved in this year’s festival, we would like to thank this magnificent panel for very generously donating their time and expertise to judge this year’s films. We really appreciate it and we are looking forward to receiving your scores!

And of course, as always. the judges' decisions are final! We’ll award two beautiful trophies and eight category prizes to the winners according to their recommendations... but as we said before, that isn’t the end of the story - the final judge at this year’s Made in the West Film Festival is YOU!!

We can’t wait to see who you send home with the final trophy :)

See you soon on the red carpet Western Sydney!


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