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  • Writer's pictureMade in the West Film Festival

Meet the 2019 JUDGES!

Well, it's finally here! Submissions have officially CLOSED and we're now in the final four-week countdown to Made in the West 2019!

We have some AMAZING entries this year and if it were left up to us to decide who wins our festival awards, let's face it, we'd never be able to decide! So every year at this time, we think to ourselves - thank goodness we have our festival judges!

NINE wonderful artists whose keen eyes for screen mastery and years of filmmaking 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 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.

Entry is FREE and ticket registration is opening next week! Remember to RSVP HERE to keep up with all our announcements and join us at Made in the West Film Festival. You might even spot some of our judges there on the red carpet from 6pm on Saturday 23 November!

So, without further ado, let us introduce you to this year's judging panel:


Peter Millynn is a freelance screen educator and practitioner with more than thirty years experience in the industry as an actor, writer, musician, recording studio operator, production accountant, production manager and producer. He has also written comedy for both radio and television, and has worked extensively in Music Videos, TVCs, Short Film and Feature Films. Peter’s credits in production include Undressing Vanessa (2007), Kokoda (2006) and The Saviour (2005). Peter was employed for 16 years at the Australian Film Television and Radio School in both teaching and senior management roles. Peter has, at AFTRS, AFTT / IFSS and ISA, mentored and overseen the development and production of in excess of 950 student short films including numerous festival winners and 3 Academy Award nominees. This is Peter's second year with the festival but first time as a judge and we couldn't be more pleased!


Nicholas Hope is a British-born actor, but that hasn’t stopped Australia taking credit for him. He is best known for his work in film featuring in Book Week (2018) and Bad Boy Bubby (1993), the latter which won him the Australian Film Institute award for Best Actor in a Leading Role in 1994. Nicholas has also dominated our television screens over the years, appearing in Les Norton (2019), The Hunting (2019), Picnic at Hanging Rock (2018), Cleverman (2016 - 2017), Janet King (2014 - 2019), Offspring (2013) and Rake (2010 - 2018). He continues to work in film, theatre and television in Australia and eastern Europe. This is Nicholas' first time on our judging panel and we're stoked he could join us!


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 second time judging on the Made in the West panel and we warmly welcome her back!


Heath Davis is a writer and director joining our judging panel for the third time, fresh from the release of his latest feature film Locusts (2019). 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 recent feature film Book Week (2018) toured film festivals around the world, won numerous awards overseas and was recently nominated for an AACTA Award for Best Indie Film. Broke (2016) won him a Best Screenplay award at SENE Film Festival. Heath strongly believes the beauty of filming is being able to share it with your community and we are excited that he will be joining us as a judge again this year!


Michael Hamish Budd is an award-winning actor, director and producer, 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 was released last year . We’re stoked that Michael could join us again for his fourth year on 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. 2019 marks Craig’s second time with us as a judge and we couldn’t be happier to have him on the 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 fourth year on our judging panel!


Dr Rachel Bentley is the former CEO of Television Sydney and now the director of 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 has screened on SBS. Rachel has always been a strong supporter of emerging Western Sydney filmmakers, offering her time to the festival for the last six 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 feature film Mortars explores the unlikely friendship of an elderly woman and a young refugee. This is his sixth year on the judging panel at Made in the West and we are very pleased to have him with us again.

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 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, the judging panel’s decision is 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!

See you on the red carpet Western Sydney! Don’t forget to RSVP here.

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