CinefestOZ Film Festival has revealed the full line up of Jury members who will decide on the winner of the prestigious $100,000 Film Prize – the country’s richest film award for an Australian production – recognising excellence in Australian filmmaking.
Joining Jury Chair and acclaimed director Robert Connolly on the panel is US producer Debbie Liebling of South Park, Bridesmaids and PEN15 fame; award winning actress, director Mia Wasikowska; talented film, tv and theatre actor Rob Collins and four-time Emmy award winner, production designer Deborah Riley.
Together the panel will decide which of the four short-listed films Monolith, Bromley: Light After Dark, and MIFF@CinefestOZ films The Rooster and Shayda will take home the title of Film Prize Winner.
The Film Prize award will be announced at the Film Prize Celebration, which will be hosted by actor and singer Joel Jackson, on Saturday 2 September at the new Sabina River Farm, with the award presented by the Hon David Templeman MLA Minister for Culture and the Arts; Sport and Recreation; International Education; Heritage.
CinefestOZ Chair Margaret Buswell said, “We are very fortunate that Robert Connolly, Debbie Liebling, Deborah Riley, Mia Wasikowska and Rob Collins are joining us at CinefestOZ this year and generously giving their time as panel members to award the winner of the highly sought-after Film Prize.”
“The CinefestOZ Film Prize was established in 2014 in partnership with the Western Australian Government to recognise excellence in Australian filmmaking. The inaugural recipient that year was Robert Connolly for his film Paper Planes and – in a full circle moment – we have Robert returning to the Festival this year as our Jury Chair for 2023.“
WA Deputy Premier and Minister for Tourism, the Hon Rita Saffioti MLA said:
“CinefestOZ celebrates the best of Australian creativity and shines a spotlight on Australia’s South West – one of the most incredible regions in the country to visit and explore.
“Thousands of visitors are expected to travel to the South West for this unique film festival which will add vibrancy and excitement to the community and boost the region’s local businesses.
“Through Tourism WA’s Regional Events Program, the WA Government is proud to support this wonderful event once again, which is part of our ongoing commitment to seeing the screen and tourism industries flourish here in Western Australia.”
Previous year’s Film Prize winners include Of An Age (2022), Nitram (2021), H is for Happiness (2019), Jirga (2018), Ali’s Wedding (2017), Girl Asleep (2016), Putuparri and the Rainmakers (2015), and Paper Planes (2014).
Australia’s largest destination film festival features more than 200 film screenings and events and celebrates its 16th year. The six-day festival will be held from 29 August – 3 September in Western Australia’s South West and will provide festival-goers with the opportunity to see some of Australia’s best new films first, and connect with filmmakers and visiting talent at the region’s cinemas, wineries, restaurants, boutique breweries, small bars and galleries in Augusta, Bunbury, Busselton, Dunsborough and Margaret River. Download the official CinefestOZ app to search session times, book tickets and build your calendar of events during the festival.
About the Film Prize Jury
Robert Connolly – Chair
Robert is one of Australia’s most acclaimed and best-known filmmakers with an international career spanning 30 years. His films include the box office hit Paper Planes with Sam Worthington, Balibo starring Oscar Isaac and Anthony Lapaglia and the compendium feature film The Turning with Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne. Most recently Robert wrote and directed The Dry based on Jane Harper’s best-seller and starring Eric Bana. In television, he directed the International Emmy-nominated The Slap and Barracuda for NBC Universal and recently completed Deep State for Fox Network Group, starring Mark Strong. As a producer and executive producer Robert’s credits include The Boys, Romulus My Father, The Warriors, Gallipoli and Chasing Asylum.
Deborah Liebling is an influential US film and television producer and studio executive. As chief development and production executive (Head of Original Programming) for Comedy Central she was solely responsible for the development and realisation of the cultural phenomenon South Park. At Universal Pictures she was President of Production for hit films Bridesmaids, Pitch Perfect and TED. Most recently, she produced Columbia Pictures’ 65, starring Adam Driver and JULES, starring Sir Ben Kingsley, which won the Audience Award at the 2023 Sonoma Film Festival. She is currently Executive Produce with FOX, Netflix and Nickelodeon and an active Board member of Women In Film, the Producers Guild of America, the Television Academy, and is an ambassador for Reframe (an organization that works with 50 Hollywood leaders to further gender parity in the entertainment industry).
Deborah Riley is a four-time Emmy award winning production designer and art director. Her portfolio includes award-winning film and television sets like Game of Thrones, 21 Grams and Moulin Rouge! Her first breakthrough into film came in the late 1990s when she was hired as a set designer for The Matrix. The film broke new ground in the world of visual effects and won four Academy Awards. In 2013, Ms Riley secured a position as Production Designer for cult TV series Game of Thrones, a show which has been widely cited as one of the most successful television shows in history due to its film-like production values with intricately detailed set design and elaborate locations. During this time, she managed an art department in excess of 100 people, across multiple countries.
Mia Wasikowska is an actor, director and writer with nearly a two-decade long journey in the entertainment industry. Mia made her directorial debut with LONG, CLEAR VIEW, a segment of THE TURNING anthology film, based on Tim Winton’s novel, which was nominated for an AACTA Award in 2013. She followed this with AFTERBIRTH, a segment of MADLY, an international anthology of short films featuring innovative love stories, which premiered at the 2016 Tribeca Film Festival. In 2019, Mia made her main stage theatre debut as Ralph in the Sydney Theatre Company’s production of LORD OF THE FLIES, directed by Kip Williams. Mia has also received the Hollywood Breakthrough Actress of the Year Award and the Australians in Film Breakthrough Award.
Rob Collins graduated from the National Institute for Dramatic Arts in 2013 and has performed as an actor and singer across film, television and stage in Australia. Film highlights include Arthur the King, Top End Wedding, Extraction, Angel of Mine – alongside Noomi Rapace and Yvonne Strahovski -and Leah Purcell’s The Drover’s Wife, for which he was nominated for an AACTA Award for Best Lead Actor in Film. In television, Rob is well known for his work on Cleverman, Wrong Girl, Glitch, Total Control Rachel Griffiths and Deborah Mailman, Mystery Road Series 2, and most recently Ten Pound Poms and Limbo with Simon Baker. On stage Rob’s theatre credits include a national tour of THE LION KING in the role of ‘Mufasa’ and ‘Lysander’ in Sydney Theatre Company’s A Midsummers Night’s Dream.
CinefestOZ would like to acknowledge the traditional owners of the land we live and work on, and pay our respect to the Elders past, present and future.
CinefestOZ thanks Presenting Partner Tourism WA, Premium Partners Screenwest and City of Busselton, Lotterywest and Community Partner Rio Tinto. The festival acknowledges its strong support from Lotterywest and Screen Australia.