top of page
  • Writer's pictureMade in the West Film Festival

Meet the 2021 judges!

It’s official! Submissions have CLOSED overnight and we're now in the final countdown to Made in the West 2021!

Can you believe we are only five weeks away from this year’s 10th anniversary festival??

Hang on to your seats because you’re in for a wicked ride!

Get ready to PARTY Western Sydney, because we’re coming back to the cinema this December with BIG plans for our double-digits birthday celebration.

Thanks to our venue sponsors, we’re going to be rolling out the red carpet for local filmmakers, popping the champagne and screening an EPIC marathon line-up of Western Sydney-made films on the Vmax big screen at Event Cinemas in Liverpool.

We’re going all out!

Get your festival memorabilia now and you will be helping support your favourite grassroots festival and red carpet event for local filmmakers.

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

We have some INCREDIBLE 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!

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

The judges’ collective scores determine who will take home our two major crystal trophies - 'Best Student Film' and 'Best in the West' (for indie filmmakers). Plus, their nominations decide our individual category winners - this year there are ten individual awards up for grabs: Best Director, Screenplay, Cinematographer, Editor, Sound Design, Production Design, Original Score, Acting in a Lead Role, Acting in a Support Role and Music Video.

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 4 December to watch the year’s best short films and awards, 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 next week. You might even spot some of our judges there on the red carpet on Saturday 4 December as we celebrate a decade of film festivals and the amazing local filmmakers from our region!

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


Julie Kalceff is an award-winning writer, director, and producer who grew up in Western Sydney. A graduate of the Australian Film Television and Radio School, Julie is best known as the creator, writer, director, and producer of the international hit online drama series Starting From Now... and writer, director, and co-producer of children’s television series First Day, which recently won an International Emmy! Julie is passionate about authentic representation and inclusion, both on screen and behind the camera. Julie’s aim is to tell stories that empower underrepresented audiences and have a positive impact on people’s lives. This is Julie’s third time on our judging panel and we’re very lucky to have her return in 2021!


Maha Wilson is one fifth of the creative team at Bonafide Pictures and she’s a huge supporter of filmmakers from the West. She migrated from Iraq in 1994 and grew up Western Sydney, finding her love for films at a young age making short films with her younger sister using their home video camera. Maha founded The Scene on Screen, hosting masterclasses and a weekly ‘screen jam’ for actors to hone their self-tape and audition skills. Her directorial debut film Damaged, which she also produced, screened at multiple film festivals in 2016. She most recently starred in The Possessed, screening at selected cinemas. Maha also starred in Matchbox Pictures’ award-winning feature film Ali’s Wedding and Western Sydney-based series On The Ropes. She was an associate producer on Martha the Monster, released in 2019 and starring Rose Byrne. We’re very pleased to welcome Maha to our judging panel for the second time this year!


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 alumni 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 first time this year!


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 fourth year on our judging panel and we’re lucky to have his keen eye judging this year’s films!


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. 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 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 fourth time Craig will bring his expertise to our judging panel and we are very thankful he could join us!


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 sixth year on our judging panel!


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 feature film Ruby’s Choice, starring Jane Seymour and Jacqueline McKenzie, due for release in 2022. 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 last year. We’re stoked that Michael could join us again for his sixth year on our judging panel!


Dr Rachel Bentley is the former CEO of Television Sydney and now the Head of Digital Content 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 Western Sydney filmmakers, offering her time to the festival in numerous ways over the last eight years, and we are delighted to have her on our judging panel again in 2021!


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, often including fictional elements at 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 eighth time on our judging panel at Made in the West and we are very pleased he could join us!


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 two beautiful trophies and ten 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!


bottom of page