Josh Hauser, Rebeckah Howson named winners of Uncovered documentary competition

Josh Hauser and Rebeckah Howson.

Josh Hauser’s Dancing on Water and Rebeckah Howson’s Death Rites are the inaugural winners of SAE Creative Media Institute’s Uncovered documentary competition.

Delivered in partnership with AACTA, the initiative will provide the pair with guidance from a panel of judges that includes Northern Pictures head of factual Karina Holden, GoodThing Productions partner and head of productions Virginia Whitwell, Minderoo Pictures executive director Malinda Wink and ABC documentaries manager Stephen Oliver, while introducing them to producers, distributors, and broadcasters.

They also receive a 12-month AACTA membership and tickets to next year’s AACTA Awards.

Hauser, whose film explores the paternal bond between former World Surf League’s Felicity Palmateer and her father Warwick, and their relationship with the ocean, said it was a “real honour” to win the award and be able to tell “such a unique story”.

“Trusting our process, and allowing the film to speak for itself was the approach we took,” he said.

“I am really blessed with the overall outcome and I look forward to creating more emotive, impactful, and meaningful stories in the near future.”

In Death Rites, Howson follows the day-to-day dealings of death with unconventional funeral director Halie, as she leads the way in reviving traditional death care practices for families and loved ones.

The film student said her whole experience in the competition had been “so rich and valuable”.

Death Rites is my first foray into documentary filmmaking, and as a film student, getting the opportunity to have my work shown to such esteemed industry professionals this early on in my career is a dream,” she said.

Open to SAE students, the competition featured entries from Brisbane, Byron Bay, Melbourne, Perth, Sydney, and Dubai campuses.

SAE general manager Luke McMillan said it was pleasing to receive submissions that spoke to important themes in society.

“I would like to take this opportunity to thank the team at AACTA for their support in providing SAE students with the platform to develop their documentary filmmaking skills, so they can be industry ready upon graduation,” he said.

AACTA awards and industry development manager Ivan Vukusic said the competition reflected the organisation’s commitment to supporting and nurturing emerging filmmakers.

“I am thrilled to see the immense talent and creativity displayed by the winners of the ‘Uncovered’ competition,” he said.

“AACTA remains steadfast in our commitment to supporting and nurturing emerging filmmakers, and this competition is a testament to that dedication.”

All the finalists’ films will be made available to AACTA members on AACTA TV for a limited time.