Female directors and female film business leaders honoured at 70th Australian International Movie Convention.
By the end of the first day at the 70th Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast it was obvious: Australian women are definitely having a moment.
AIMC’s Opening Night was a special preview of writer/director Jocelyn Moorhouse’s upcoming 1950s Aussie comedy The Dressmaker, which drew a wonderful reaction from the crowd at Jupiters Theatre (especially, to my delight, from many of the non-fashion appreciative male attendees). Moorhouse and producer Sue Maslin were both on hand to present the film, which stars Kate Winslet and Liam Hemsworth, and I was lucky enough to chat with them for the next instalment of my 100 Women In Film Down Under series.
Adapted from Rosalie Ham’s bestselling novel, Moorhouse’s crowdpleaser is sure to add to the record-breaking haul by Australian films at the local box office this year. Following on from The Water Diviner, Paper Planes, Oddball and Mad Max: Fury Road, for sure The Dressmaker is on track to nudge the annual total towards $70million when it opens in two weeks. (The previous annual record was $63.1million for 2001, which included The Bank, Lantana and Moulin Rouge.)
Secondly, and quite significantly, out of the 13 Australian premieres at Toronto International Film Festival last month, The Dressmaker was one of six directed by a woman. Other Aussie women to get a guernsey on the schedule were Gillian Armstrong (Women He’s Undressed), Jennifer Peedom (Sherpa), Sue Brooks (Looking for Grace) and Alice Englert – daughter of Jane Campion – for her short film The Boyfriend Game.
It’s exactly this kind of momentum the Natalie Miller Foundation is hoping will inspire future female leaders in the film industry business world too – not just the actors, writers and directors, but also the female film distributors, producers, advertising managers, marketing directors and future VPs and studio presidents.
Day two of the AIMC saw the $10,000 Natalie Miller Fellowship grant awarded to distribution specialist Courtney Botfield. Botfield has worked across independent film for more than 15 years’ and has recently started focusing on “Impact Producing”, targeting films with strong social messaging with the potential for creating real change. With her grant, Botfield plans to attend the 2016 Media That Matters Conference in Washington DC, meet leading social impact and analysis practitioners in New York, and engage a business mentor aligned with the philanthropic and social enterprise sectors.
Natalie Miller AO, a pioneer of Australian arthouse cinema and founder of distribution house Sharmill Films, was on hand to present the award named in her honour.
“In the spirit of the Fellowship encouraging leadership in the film industry business world, Courtney has demonstrated leadership skills in starting her own business and choosing a new area to explore – alternate and innovative pathways in film financing and distribution,” said Miller.
“We wish her well to inspire others in the task of building on women’s leadership goals so all women may one day go through the glass ceiling and take their place in equal numbers on boards and in CEO roles.”
In 1984, Miller took over South Yarra’s Longford cinema in Melbourne and turned it into one of the first arthouse cinemas in Australia. She is also the co-founder of Melbourne’s iconic Cinema Nova, and has made valuable contributions as a member of a number of key film industry and cultural organisation committees, including the Women’s Film Fund of the Australian Film Commission, Film Victoria, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image, the Australian Film Institute, Women in Film and Television, the National Association of Cinema Operators, and the Swinburne and VCA Schools of Film and Television.
The only grant of its kind in the country, the Natalie Miller Fellowship was created to recognise and nurture the next generation of female leaders in the Australian Screen Industry, and inspire them to achieve outstanding success at the most senior levels of the business.
“Natalie Miller has long been an inspiration for me in my years working in distribution and exhibition,” said Botfield on being awarded the grant by Miller on the Gold Coast yesterday.
“To receive this fellowship in her name that vigorously promotes the role of women as leaders and encourages gender equality across all facets of the industry is an absolute privilege and honour. The opportunities this fellowship will afford me in my new entrepreneurial ventures are boundless and I look forward to an exciting year ahead.”
Previous winners include StudioCanal’s Rachel Okine (2012), Wildbear Entertainment’s Harriet Pike (2013) and Deluxe Entertainment’s Rebecca Hammond (2014).