Phillip Noyce, Bruna Papandrea, Mitu Bhowmick Lange receive Australia Day honours

Phillip Noyce

The creative industries were well represented in this year’s Australia Day honours list, with director Phillip Noyce, Made Up Stories producer Bruna Papandrea, and actors Claudia Karvan and David Wenham among those recognised.

Noyce was appointed an Officer of the Order of Australia (OA), while Karvan received a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) alongside director and producer Patricia Fiske.

Papandrea and Wenham were joined by writer and comedian Jean Kittson (AM), Screen Queensland board member Cathy Hunt (AM), and Mind Blowing Films founder and director Mitu Bhowmick Lange (AM Honourary) in being appointed Members of the Order of Australia (AM).

It’s another accolade in the already decorated career of Noyce, who is known for directing films such as Rabbit-Proof Fence, Salt, Catch a Fire, The Quiet American, Clear and Present Danger, Dead Calm, Heatwave, and Newsfront, as well as television series, The Resident, Roots, Revenge, The Cowra Breakout, and The Dismissal.

He has also advocated for the Australian industry since becoming involved with film, having spent time as manager of the Sydney Filmmakers Co-Op, 1969-1971 and president of the Australian Screen Directors Association, while founding the Australian Filmmakers Festival in 1971, and campaigning for the establishment of the Australian Film and Television Radio School.

Speaking from the US where he is based, Noyce said being included on the honours list was a reminder of “how much he owed Australia”.

“I’ve had some incredible mentors from Australia,” he said.

“I remember the underground films made by [Ubu Films founders] Albie Thoms, David Perry, and Aggy Read, who showed me as an 18-year-old that anyone can make a film, and then former Prime Minister John Gorton kickstarting the film industry in Australian with the help of Philip Adams and Barry Jones.

“I’ve also always been inspired by filmmakers like George Miller.”

Mitu Bhowmick Lange.

Being appointed to the Order also carries special significance for Lange and Hunt, both of whom emigrated to Australia.

As the founder and director of Mind Blowing Films, Lange is credited with being one of the first distributors to have successfully integrated Indian Cinema releases to mainstream exhibitors, having released titles in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, and Papua New Guinea.

Born in Delhi, she studied in Bombay before moving to Melbourne in the 2000s, going on to become the festival director of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, and Indian Film Festival (Sydney) – Bollywood and Beyond, while also being on the VicScreen board.

Lange told IF she was “delighted and honoured” to become a recipient of the Order of Australia.

“When I first arrived in this country it was virtually impossible to see Indian films,” she said.

“It is gratifying to today see Indian films included prominently in this year’s Oscar nominations and Australia for Indian films to be topping the box office regularly.”

Witnessing the creative industries evolve in her adopted country has also been central to the career of Hunt, co-founder, and director of consultancy company Positive Solutions and executive director of cultural enterprise Of One Mind, producers of the WOW (Women of the World) Festivals in Australia.

Originally from England, she moved to Australia more than 25 years ago, not long after Prime Minister Paul Keating’s Creative Nation Cultural Policy was introduced.

Hunt told IF the country’s cultural sector, led by First Nations cultural and creative practices, was “one of its greatest assets”.

“We don’t always grab hold of it as we should and there are ups and downs but hopefully it continues to grow,” she said.

Overall, the Australia Day Honours List recognised 1047 Australians.