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  • Writer's pictureMade in the West Film Festival

2022 Festival judges revealed

We’re excited to announce the 2022 judging panel! We have a wonderful line-up of talented folk who will share the extremely difficult task of deciding the award-winning films at this year’s festival.

We're in the final countdown to submissions closing in just two weeks – and there’s still time to submit your short film for consideration as part of this year’s Official Selection!

Only the best films made right here in the West will make the cut – could your film win one of our three top trophies on the night? Or maybe you might win over the audience and take home our Audience Choice Award?!

All you need is a cast member, crew member or location from Western Sydney. Check out the full entry criteria here..

There are just seven short weeks before the best night of the year!

Save the date, call your mates and organise your finest frock – it’s time to PARTY Western Sydney, because we’re coming back to everyone’s favourite local screening house for our 11th annual festival at Event Cinemas Liverpool on Saturday 26 November from 6pm.

Thanks to our awesome venue sponsors, we’re going to be rolling out the red carpet for local filmmakers, popping the champagne and screening a fantastic line-up of Western Sydney-made films on the Vmax big screen in Liverpool. It’s going to be a great night!

Keep an eye on our FB & Insta pages to stay in the loop about tickets, the official selection of films and all the exciting news we have in store for all our short film movie marathon lovers out there.

There have been 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 find a way to award everyone! So around this time every year, we thank our lucky stars to have festival judges.

This year we have TEN wonderful judges whose keen eyes for screen mastery and years of creative experience will combine to help us decide who wins this year’s festival glassware.

The judges’ collective scores determine who will take home our gorgeous crystal trophies for ‘Best Music Video’, 'Best Student Film' and 'Best in the West' (for indie filmmakers).

Plus, their nominations decide our individual category winners - this year there are nine individual awards up for grabs: Best Director, Screenplay, Cinematographer, Editor, Sound Design, Production Design, Original Score, Lead Actor and Supporting Actor.

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

That’s right, we’re inviting you to join Western Sydney filmmakers on the red carpet from 6pm on Saturday 26 November to watch the year’s best short films, then VOTE for who you think should take home the highly coveted Audience Choice Award.

Entry to the festival is FREE and ticket registration opens in November! You might even spot some of our judges there on the red carpet as we celebrate all the amazing filmmakers from our region.

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

BRYAN BROWN AM Bryan Brown is one of Australia’s most iconic and globally-renowned, AACTA award-winning, Golden Globe and Emmy award nominated film, theatre and television actors. Born in Panania, Bryan’s connection to Western Sydney continues to this day with the Bankstown Theatre named after him and his role as WestWords ambassador. He started New Town Films in 1983 with the simple philosophy: ‘If you own it, they can’t tell you that you can’t be in it’.

Bryan was awarded a lifetime achievement award at the AACTA Awards in 2018 and he has most recently appeared in Peter Rabbit, Palm Beach, Halal Gurls, Hungry Ghosts, and Bloom. He has starred in more than 80 films & TV projects, including classic Aussie movies such as The Thorn Birds, Cocktail, Australia Day, and Red Dog - True Blue. He was inducted into the Logie Hall of Fame in 1989 and was named 'Best Actor in a Supporting Role' at the Australian Film Institute (AFI) awards for Breaker Morant and Two Hands (an SSP favourite!). This is Bryan’s second time as a judge with Made in the West and we are stoked to have him back on the panel again this year!

SUNIL BADAMI Dr Sunil Badami is a writer, performer, radio broadcaster and storyteller. He has a Doctorate of Creative Arts from UTS, where he also teaches film studies, creative writing and radio production. He’s an ABC stalwart, hosting his own radio show for many years and Screen Sounds radio program this year, has been a host on The Mix and is a regular panellist on The Drum.

He is a selection panellist for the Asia Pacific Screen Academy Awards and is as proud of his Indian heritage as he is of his Westie origins. Sunil hosted the 2018 and 2019 episodes of Made in the West TV and in 2021 graced our screens as the host for Made in the West Online Film Festival. We’re so pleased Sunil could join us this year for his first stint on our judging panel!

HOLLY KAYE-SMITH Dr Holly is a content creator and social change-maker. She has dedicated her life and research to creating change through inspiring communication and empowering other people to do the same. Dr Holly is in demand all over the world, frequenting podcasts, publications, and conferences to advise about sustainability issues and creative content solutions.

She is the host of Enquiring Minds and The Why Generation from TVS Television Sydney, and of course, you would have seen her on the red carpet at Made in the West too, as she hosted our red carpet interviews in 2020 and 2021. We’re excited to welcome Dr Holly to the panel for the first time 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 and playing the Zion Controller in The Matrix Reloaded. He recently directed the award-winning feature film Ruby’s Choice, starring Jane Seymour and Jacqueline McKenzie, and scored a nod for Best Director at the 2021 Australian Screen Industry Awards. His directorial debut, Love of my Life, 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 and his feature film Enter Sanctum was released in 2020. We’re stoked that Michael could join us again for his seventh 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 picturesque My Greek Odyssey, exploring the Greek Islands on a super yacht. We are very proud to welcome David back for his seventh year on our judging panel!


Dr Wendy Chandler is an animation specialist and award-winning filmmaker based in the Blue Mountains. Former producer at Parasol Productions, she has directed numerous short films such as Union Street, Vengeance, The Summer of 77 and produced and co-directed the animation series Heirlooms. AFTRS alum Wendy has a Doctorate in Creative Arts and is now lecturing in screen media at WSU.

She is a strong advocate for improving lives and educational opportunities for the people of Timor-Leste through her work with the Blue Mountains East Timor Sisters and Blue Mountains Together for Timor and has worked at Casa de Produção Audiovisual training young filmmakers in Timor-Leste. We’re so pleased to have Wendy on our judging panel for the second time this year!


Dr Craig Morgan grew up in Lansvale and went to school in Cabramatta and Fairfield. As a former board-member of the Australian Guild of Screen Composers (AGSC), Craig is a regular jury member for the Australian Academy of Cinematic and Television Arts (AACTA), Tropfest, Tropscore and KidzFlickz - and in 2018 was inducted into the Asia Pacific Screen Awards (APSA) Academy. He 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 Master of Science (MSc) Research publication from Macquarie University and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) from The Conservatorium of Music, The University of Sydney. This is the fifth time Craig will bring his expertise to our judging panel and we are very thankful he could join us!


Peter Millynn is a freelance screen educator and practitioner with more than 30 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, Kokoda and The Saviour.

Peter was employed for 16 years at the Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) 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 fifth year on our judging panel and we’re lucky to have his keen eye judging this year’s films!


Dr Rachel Bentley is the former CEO of Television Sydney and a documentary film and television producer. Her 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 Western Sydney filmmakers, offering her time to the festival in numerous ways over the last nine years, and we are delighted to have her on our judging panel again in 2022!


Dr Iqbal Barkat is a digital artist and filmmaker. 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, often including fictional elements at the intersection of digital media with other art forms. He is co-director and producer of the documentary This is Our School, currently screening on SBS. This is his ninth time on our judging panel at Made in the West and we are very pleased he is along for the ride once again!


Let’s hear it for 2022 judges!

From the entire team here at Made in the West and everyone involved in this year’s festival, we would like to thank this wonderful 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 three beautiful trophies and nine 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!

Firstly, as always, will you be able to vote in person for the Audience Choice Award on Saturday 26 November at Event Cinemas, sending someone home with an amazing trophy and all the glory that comes with winning the audience vote!

And secondly, this year we have an extra special voting opportunity at our Online Festival happening ALL SUMMER LONG – we’re so excited!

That’s right – we’re bringing the red carpet to folks at home in a new and improved format which includes offering up a whole stack of new awards that you can vote for from home, including Best Horror, Comedy, Drama and Sci Fi, plus Best Web Series, Documentary and Animation. How great is that??!

We’re SUPER keen to see who takes home the inaugural Made in the West GENRE awards.

We’ve been noticing for years that the genre flicks coming out of Western Sydney right now are just ace! We’re keen to reward all that hard work and get some awards out there for all the amazing filmmakers doing great work.

That’s not to mention all the cool web series and doco’s being made too – we can’t forget those!

Plus, as always, there’s the top prize of them all – the People’s Choice Award – sweeping the tally for the best film over all, as voted by our at-home audience.

The 2022 Made in the West Online Festival kicks off at the start of December and runs all the way through to the end of January 2023.

That’ll be MORE than enough time to rope in your friends, extended family, long lost overseas relatives and half the bloody WORLD to see your film and vote for their favourite as part of this year’s Made in the West Film Festival screenings.

We can’t wait!!

So what are you waiting for??

It’s time to enter your film! If you haven’t already, check out the link here to our ENTRY FORM and SUBMIT YOUR FILM to the biggest and best festival of the year, coming at you this November 26 in cinema, and December through January online.

We’ll see you on the red carpet Western Sydney!


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