(L-R): Jane Hastings, Rachel Griffiths, Teresa Palmer and Sue Maslin.

A panel comprising Rachel Griffiths, producer Sue Maslin, Teresa Palmer, and Event Hospitality and Entertainment CEO Jane Hastings will judge next month’s inaugural Australian Women’s Film Festival.

The short film festival, which is being relaunched after the pandemic forced its postponement last year, will be held on Sunday, March 14 at Event Cinemas Bondi Junction in Sydney, in line with International Women’s Day. 

Designed to support, encourage, and celebrate female storytellers and leaders within the film industry, AWFF is the brainchild of Australian producers and filmmakers Kelly Tomasich and Tahyna MacManus (MuM – Misunderstanding of Miscarriage Documentary).

A condition of entry to AWFF is that three out of five key creatives (writer, director, producer, DOP and editor) on a project must be female.

Entries are also subject to the Bechdel test – a measure of the representation of women in fiction that asks whether a work features at least two women who talk to each other about something other than a man.

Palmer (Ride Like A Girl) says she is “truly excited” to see the submissions and support upcoming talent in the Australian industry.

“It is such an honour to be part of the inaugural AWFF, a beautiful festival to celebrate and champion women in film whilst providing them with a platform to showcase their talents both in front of and behind the camera,” she says.

Tahyna MacManus and Kelly Tomasich.

“I couldn’t be prouder to be on the judging panel with not just my peers, but women in film I have looked up to and been inspired by my entire career.”

Her sentiments are shared by fellow judge and actor/director/producer Griffiths, who says she is looking forward to seeing the contributions of women on both sides of the camera.

“I am so excited to be a member of the AWFF judging panel in its inaugural year,” she says.

“It’s an amazing opportunity for filmmakers to showcase, and audiences to celebrate, the phenomenal work being done by women, both in front and behind the camera.”

AWFF will include a VIP red-carpet event, curated discussion with the AWFF judging panel, screenings of the finalist films, and an award presentation.

The festival will also honour legendary editor Jill Bilcock with the AWFF Trailblazer Award for a woman who has blazed a trail for other women filmmakers and made an extraordinary contribution over her career, and Bruna Papandrea with the AWFF Groundbreaker Award for a woman who has made an extraordinary impact in the industry in the previous year.

Awards will be given for Best Drama, Documentary, Comedy and Animation, with the major prize awarded for Best Film. Individual categories will also be recognised.

For Hastings, the event is about encouraging more female talent to the industry to showcase stories that “better reflect our communities”.

“Celebrating and highlighting film talent across all aspects of the industry is important and this festival does just that,” she says.

Maslin (The Dressmaker, Brazen Hussies) says she is “delighted” to join the judging panel for the inaugural AWFF.

Original entries from AWFF 2020 will be screened at the 2021 inaugural AWFF event.

In order to acknowledge the COVID-19 delays, AWFF will be accepting submissions for the AWFF 2022 event for films made in both 2020 and 2021 at a date to be announced later in the year.

Click here for more information about the award categories.

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