Karina Holden named winner of $5,000 Southern Light Award, AIDC Awards nominees revealed

Karina Holden.

Northern Pictures head of factual Karina Holden is the inaugural recipient of the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) Southern Light Award, designed to celebrate luminaries of the Australian documentary and factual industry.

The announcement coincided with the unveiling of nominees for the 2024 AIDC Awards, which will be presented Wednesday, March 6 at ACMI.

Holden has overseen more than 20 factual series throughout her career, including Love on the Spectrum, Better Date Than Never, See What You Made Me Do, Employable Me, Strong Female Lead, Meet the Penguins, and Luke Warm Sex.

In 2021, she was given the Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award, and in 2023 her slate of programs at Northern Pictures were awarded the prestigious Human Rights Award for Media and Creative Industries.

She also received the 2022 Producers Guild of America George Sunga Award alongside Love on the Spectrum co-creator Cian O’Clery for advancing the portrayal and employment of disabilities in media.

Holden, who will be invited to speak at the awards presentation, said the $5,000 Southern Light Award felt “like a beacon”, adding that her journey, as with many others in the industry, had been like a swan in the sense “of seemingly gliding on top but paddling faster and faster underneath”.

“I consider the most important work we do as documentary filmmakers is to shine a light into places where we reveal new truths and illuminate unheard stories,” she said.

“[The award] reminds me that empathy, understanding, and ultimately, change, often begin with a single story seen, a single voice amplified. Thank you, AIDC, for recognising the power of that light in my work, and for encouraging us all to keep shining ever brighter.”

AIDC CEO and creative director Natasha Gadd said the AIDC board was “extremely proud” to present Holden with the $5,000 prize, while noting the jurors had found it particularly challenging to select the nominees across the six categories from a record number of entries.

“Congratulations to all nominees across each of the six categories and enormous gratitude to the awards jurors for helping to select this incredible line-up,” she said.

“Karina is an absolute factual force who has been at the forefront of change; always championing new voices, testing new ground, and shaping a more inclusive documentary sector.”

AIDC will take place in person in Melbourne at ACMI March 3-6, with an online international marketplace to follow March 7-8.

Bruce Pascoe in ‘The Dark Emu Story’ (Image: Michael Fairbairn)

The full list of AIDC nominees:

This award is supported by completion guarantor Film Finances with a $5,000 cash prize.

The Dark Emu Story
2023 | Blackfella Films
Darren Dale, Belinda Mravicic, Jacob Hickey, Allan Clarke

The Giants
2023 | General Strike & Matchbox Pictures
Rachael Antony, Laurence Billiet

This is Going to be Big
2023 | Truce Films & Fremantle Media
Jim Wright, Josie Mason-Campbell, Catherine Bradbury, Thomas Hyland

The Last Daughter
2022 | Gravity Films
Brendon Skinner, Simon Williams, Brenda Matthews, Nathaniel Schmidt


2023 | In Films
Vanilla Tupu, Nel Minchin, Ivan O’Mahoney

Never Let Him Go
2023 | Blackfella Films & Show of Force
Darren Dale, Jacob Hickey, Jeff Dupre, Saralena Weinfield

2023 | Guesswork Television
Jon Casimir, Kevin Whyte, Plum Stubbings, Zoë Coombs Marr, Stamatia Maroupas

Who The Bloody Hell Are We?
2023 | Chemical Media
Tony Jackson, David Collins, Nick McInerney


Keeping Hope
2022 | Joined Up Films
Jacqueline Willinge, Tyson Mowarin, Dan Brown, Mark Coles Smith

Rebel With a Cause: Neville Bonner
2023 | Inkey Media
Douglas Watkin, Citt Williams

Rebel With a Cause: Oodgeroo Noonuccal
2023 | Inkey Media
Sio F Tusa, Citt Williams

The Platypus Guardian
2023 | WildBear & Tetrapod
Fraser Johnston, Nick Hayward, Chadden Hunter


Compass – Lottery of Life
2023 | ABC TV Compass
Amanda Collinge, Kylie Grey

Marungka tjalatjunu (Dipped in black)
2023 | Other Pictures & Switch Productions
Matthew Thorne, Derik Lynch

Patricia in the Dark
2023 | One Dark Horse Race
Laura Hartley

Tee Ken Ng
2023 | Kirri Media
Shari Hutchison, Ella Wright

This award is supported by AFTRS, with a $3,000 cash prize.

House of Skulls
2023 | Sony & Audible
Marc Fennell, Pallavi Kottamasu, Paul Horan

Nobody Dies Here
2023 | Alongside Radio
Michelle Ransom-Hughes

Secrets We Keep: Shame, Lies and Family
2023 LiSTNR
Amelia Oberhardt, Ellen Leabeater, Jake Morcom, Nial Fernandes

This award is supported by research centre Deakin Motion Lab (DML), with a $3,000 cash

The Earth Above: a deep time view of Australia’s epic history
2024 | The ARC Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage & Deakin Motion Lab
Martin Potter, Lorraine Williams, Annie Risk, Russell Mullett, Kenneth McLean, Lowell Hunter, Willandra Lakes Region First Peoples’ Consultative Group, Scott Jackson, Charlie Hill-Smith, Will McCallum

Turbulence: Jamais Vu
2023 | Pernickety Split
Ben Joseph Andrews, Emma Roberts

Yalinguth by the Birrarung
2023 | Storyscape
Yalinguth Working Group