AACTA reveals recipients of Pitch initiatives

Sophie Kesoglidis and , Rhona Rees.

AACTA has announced the recipient of AACTA Pitch: Mother, with Rhona Rees receiving $10,000 in development funds and an exclusive distribution deal with Monster Pictures for her concept Freya.

The story, which follows a young woman who must fight for her autonomy and her life after she is tricked into falling pregnant to a one-night stand in a future where abortion is allowed, was selected from a field of eight finalists by judges Robbie Miles, Kim Taylor, Rose Lourde, Chris Brown and CEO and head of Monster Pictures, Grant Hardie.

Rees said she hoped the competition was “the first of many green lights” in making her feature filmmaking debut.

“Producing the project materials for each round helped me crystalize my ideas and get market ready,” she said.

“To be chosen from such a talented and dynamic group of finalists is a huge honor, and I hope to do AACTA and Monster Pictures proud with my film.”

Hardie said Rees, had “embraced the spirit of the initiative from the start” while keeping the project “front and centre in the judge’s minds with solid pitch materials”.

The announcement comes after the winner of AACTA Pitch: Focus was unveiled earlier in the week, with RMIT student Sophie Kesoglidis and her team comprising director Eva Justine Torkkola, cinematographer Sarah Jo Fraser, and production designer Fatima El-Hassan, were awarded $15,000 in development funds and a suite of state-of-the-art Sony equipment on loan, valued at over $6,500, to produce their short film The Sight of Sound

Set in regional Victoria, the story follows a diligent, yet ordinary 17-year-old high school viola student pursuing a coveted position at the conservatorium, who is faced with making an unorthodox decision in order to be truly heard.

It was one of five finalist concepts pitched to judges, Lyn Norfor, chief technology officer at AFTRS and producer/co-founder of Emerald Productions, Nicholas Colla, Imogen Thomas, and Liam Heyen.

Kesoglidis said she saw AACTA Pitch Focus as an opportunity to join forces with like-minded filmmakers who would connect with her story.

The Sight of Sound is based on a profound moment that happened to me years ago,” she said.

“It explores authenticity and our basic human need to be heard and acknowledged. It felt like the right project for this competition and an opportunity to write and produce original material, which is my ultimate goal. I not only love writing the script but also steering a project through the many unexpected twists and turns a project takes as it evolves – just as we experienced when making our proof of concept when the floods became a huge obstacle, to say the least.”

AACTA awards and industry development manager Ivan Vukusic paid tribute to Kesoglidis for creating a “personal and moving story of authenticity”.

“I and all of our enthusiastic judges, along with our supportive partners in Sony, are looking forward to helping them create the great short film that’s been developed through the Focus process.”