Screen Australia announces new Gender Matters Taskforce

Rachel Griffiths, Liz Doran and Que Minh Luu. 

Screen Australia has announced the 18 members of the new iteration of the Gender Matters Taskforce, which provides independent advice to the agency, and works beyond Screen Australia’s direct sphere of influence to deliver outcomes for female creatives and assist in broader industry efforts to achieve gender parity.

Formed in 2016 and updated in 2018, the Gender Matters Taskforce is a volunteer-based advisory body  made up of women working across the Australian screen sector. Returning members include taskforce chair Joanna Werner; deputy chair Deanne Weir and Lisa French.

Werner said: “These 18 brilliant women represent a cross section of the screen sector and come from varying backgrounds with a range of expertise locally and internationally. This taskforce will be integral in helping to shape Screen Australia’s next steps as well as promoting the broader industry systemic change that is needed.”

“Whilst Screen Australia’s Gender Matters work has been important, the agency represents only a fraction of the $3 billion local screen industry. As the new Gender Matters Taskforce, we will be seeking to leverage our own expertise and connections to agitate for change in our individual areas of speciality, particularly in areas Screen Australia cannot reach.”

“I really look forward to working with the new taskforce to find targeted and achievable solutions to ensure we continue to make improvements to our industry and do our part to empower female creatives.”

The new taskforce will meet three to four times a year with the first meeting scheduled to take place next month.

The taskforce members:

Sarah Bassiuoni: Bassiuoni is a Sydney-based writer and director. Since graduating from AFTRS in 2016, following a successful career as a human rights lawyer, Bassiuoni has worked for several producers and production companies as a writer, director, script editor and researcher. She has directed short films including the four-part comedy web series, Carpark Clubbing for ABC iview and worked as a trainee script editor and writer on season 2 of ABC serial The Heights, produced by Matchbox Pictures. More recently, Bassiuoni was selected for Screen Australia’s Developing the Developer Program in 2018 and for the Phillip Parson’s Fellowship at Belvoir Street Theatre where she has been selected to take part in their 12-month development program as dramaturg. She currently has several projects in various stages of development. Bassiuoni is the daughter of an Egyptian Muslim and Irish Catholic and grew up in Saudi Arabia, the USA and Australia.

Tania Chambers: Chambers is a producer and Manager Director of Feisty Dame Productions. She has produced children’s television series Itch, feature films A Few Less Men and Kill Me Three Times, the short film Tango Underpants and executive produced End of EmpireTurning PointOne Fine DayHigh TideDark Whispers and A Shared Affair. Formerly Chief Executive of Screen NSW and Screenwest, Tania is a member of the Screenwest Industry Advisory Group, Chair of the WA Screen Industry Diversity Leadership Group, a member of SPA, AACTA, WIFT Australia and Dame Changer and a recipient of the Medal of the Order of Australia for services to the Arts and to Film and Television.

Liz Doran: Doran is an internationally acclaimed writer and producer. She script produced and co-wrote the smash hit, Please Like Me and in 2015 was co-creator and lead writer on Ready For This, which won multiple awards and was nominated for an International Emmy Award. She also co-wrote Molly, which had the highest consolidated ratings for an Australian drama series in 2016. She has written for several television series including Doctor DoctorDance Academy and The Secret Life of Us and is currently developing an eight part series, Barons, for the ABC and Fremantle as well as producing The Tailings, an online series for SBS On Demand.

Anusha Duray: Duray is the acquisitions manager for National Indigenous Television (NITV), as well as a skilled producer. Her short film Bourke Boy was selected to screen at the London Australia Film Festival, ImagineNATIVE Film Festival and won Best Achievement in Indigenous Filmmaking at St Kilda Film Festival. Duray has extensive experience working in Indigenous communities and business development. She was a recipient of the Executive Women in Leadership scholarship by Chief Executive Women Australia and has been a member of networks such as the New South Wales Aboriginal Women’s Consultation Network, the Oceanian TV Symposium and New South Wales Women’s Legal Service throughout the last decade.

Bonnie Elliott: Elliott is an award-winning cinematographer who works across drama, documentary and video art. After shooting her first feature, My Tehran for Sale in Iran, her film credits include These Final HoursSpearUndertowPalm BeachSlam and H is for Happiness. Recent series drama includes Stateless, created by Cate Blanchett, Tony Ayres and Elise McCredie, and The Hunting, which continued her collaboration with director Ana Kokkinos after the acclaimed Seven Types of Ambiguity, for which she won an AACTA Award for Best Cinematography in Television, becoming the first female cinematographer ever to win this award.

Lisa French: French is the Dean of RMIT University’s School of Media and Communication. Her extensive screen industry experience includes directing the St Kilda Film Festival, serving on the board of the Australian Film Institute and producing several documentaries. She is a lifetime member of the AFI and WIFT, an international member of AACTA, and internationally recognised as one of Australia’s foremost scholars on women in film and television. As co-chair of the UNESCO Network for Gender, Media and Information Communication Technologies she has advocated for women’s access to media, including at the UN’s Commission for the Status of Women.

Rachel Griffiths: One of Australia’s most prolific industry professionals, Griffiths is an Academy Award-nominated and multi award-winning actress. In the last few years Griffiths has moved into content creation, directing and producing the highest-grossing Australian feature film of 2019, Ride Like A Girl. Last year she also co-created the political drama, Total Control for ABC, in which she also starred. It won both Best Television Drama and Griffith the Best Supporting Actress Award at the 2019 AACTA Awards. Griffiths is moving into factual television with an art series for ABC and is developing other television drama projects for both local and international platforms. Griffiths sits on the ACMI board and is patron of Bus Stop Films – a company that champion inclusive filmmaking by fostering the participation of people with disabilities in our national storytelling.

Monique Keller: Keller is manager, original content for Audible with a focus on commissioning factual and scripted podcasts, and theatre. Prior to this, she worked for Amazon Studios based in Los Angeles where she specialised in acquisitions and distribution for the Original Movies unit and worked on the release of over 35 movies including award-winning titles such as The DressmakerYou Were Never Really HereCold War and Late Night. Keller earned her Master of Fine Arts in Producing for Film, TV and New Media from University of Southern California’s Peter Stark Producing Program and was awarded the 2015 Producers Guild of America’s Deborah Hill Fellowship.

Rosie Lourde: Lourde is a content creator traversing roles, formats and genres. Digital series Starting From Now, which she acted in and produced, has amassed over 135 million views online, sold to SBS and won numerous awards. Lourde worked as a writer and director on horror anthology series Deadhouse Dark which is about to hit international festivals; was writer, director and producer of virtual reality film Breach; producer on indie feature Skin Deep; acted in feature Chocolate Oyster which screened at Sydney Film Festival last year; and recently directed her first feature Romance On The Menu. She was formerly the Investment Manager of Online Production at Screen Australia, as well as a Co-Vice President of WIFT NSW.

Kristy Matheson: Matheson has worked extensively in independent distribution and film festivals. She started her career in the programming department at Brisbane International Film Festival, held publicity and marketing roles at Dendy Films and was the Industry Manager at Sydney Film Festival. Matheson is the Director of Film at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image (ACMI) in Melbourne where she is a member of the Executive team, leads the strategy for ACMI’s film offering, programs contemporary films and retrospectives, artist commissions and cross discipline programming. Matheson has served on juries, written on film for Senses of Cinema and is a regular reviewer on ABC Radio, Melbourne. She is a recipient of the Natalie Miller Fellowship.

Que Minh Luu: Luu is an executive producer working across scripted drama, comedy and digital content at the ABC. Her most recent projects include FrayedThe HeightsHarrowContent and Diary of an Uber Driver. Prior to her current role she worked in development at Matchbox Pictures where she co-created The Heights. As an independent she produced a diverse range of award-winning work across radio and podcasting as well as live and digital platforms including co-writing and producing the geo-locative historical drama Ghosts of Biloela, for which she won an Australian Writers’ Guild AWGIE Award. Prior to this she had an established career as a film editor.

Meg O’Connell: O’Connell is the AACTA Award-winning producer behind the critically acclaimed online series Robbie Hood from Since1788 Productions and Ludo Studio. She also produced Ludo Studio’s International Emmy Award nominated show Doodles for ABC ME and the vertical-video series Content for ABC iview. O’Connell worked as the development manager on the smash hit children’s animation Bluey, which is the most watched show in ABC iview history. The series won a Logie Award, was nominated for an International Emmy Award and is now screening worldwide on Disney+. Recently, O’Connell completed a creative mentorship at FremantleMedia in the UK, funded by Screen Queensland, and has since produced a music video for Columbia Records. She is currently developing a slate of projects with a number of next generation Australian creatives. O’Connell is one of the 11 creatives selected to travel to New York in April 2020 as part of Screen Australia’s Talent USA: New York delegation to attend the Australian International Screen Forum and take part in professional development opportunities.

Rachel Okine: Okine is an international acquisitions, financing strategy and story development specialist who currently works as the Managing Director of Aquarius Films. Prior to that, she was the Paris-based Vice President of International Production and Acquisitions for StudioCanal, where she acquired titles for the French, German and ANZ territories, oversaw all multi-territory deals and coordinated the international production operations. She then headed acquisitions for STX Entertainment across their UK distribution and international sales operations. Okine was a founding staff member of leading independent film distribution company Hopscotch (later acquired by eOne), and is the inaugural recipient of the Natalie Miller Fellowship.

Fiona Tuomy: Tuomy is an award-winning screenwriter, director, producer and developer working across storytelling genres and platforms. Tuomy is a proud Disabled woman, a graduate of AFTRS, has made a range of accomplished short films, and is writer and director of the acclaimed ABC documentary Helen Garner’s Monkey Grip. As well as being a creative practitioner, Tuomy is recognised as a leader in the design and delivery of disability-led arts programs and has worked in leadership and education roles across the screen, arts, literary and disability sectors. Currently Tuomy is Artistic Director of The Other Film Festival and a recipient of 2020 Creators Fund from Creative Victoria. Tuomy is a member of the Creative Industries Advisory Group, which will help shape the Victorian Government’s strategy and investment in the creative industries from 2020.

Deanne Weir (Deputy Chair): Weir is passionate about storytelling, change making and gender equality. A former media lawyer and executive turned producer, investor and company director, her company invests in entrepreneurs and storytellers to help them change the world. Weir is Chair of Hoodlum, an Emmy and BAFTA award-winning production company; Ai-Media, a global provider of speech to text services; and Seer Data & Analytics, a technology start-up helping the social sector make better decisions through the use of data and insights. Weir also serves as Chair of the Sydney Film Festival, the Grata Fund, and Global Sisters, and as a Trustee at The Asia Foundation. Weir served on the board of Screen Australia from 2008 to 2016, and remains a member of the Gender Matters taskforce.

Joanna Werner (Chair): Werner has over 20 years’ experience in the film and television industry, she has produced over 94 hours and 173 episodes of television and a feature film, all of which have sold extensively around the world. Her work has been defined by consistent acclaim, with multiple AACTA awards, Logies and three Emmy Award nominations. Werner has amassed production credits on an array of internationally acclaimed work – most recently the Netflix Original Clickbait, Riot for the ABC, Secret City for Foxtel, as well as the Emmy-nominated series Dance Academy and Ready for This. Werner is a board member of Screen Australia and chair of Screen Australia’s Gender Matters Taskforce.

Malinda Wink: Wink is the global director for Good Pitch at Doc Society. Her professional experience spans senior roles within the corporate, political, philanthropic and NGO sectors. Before joining Doc Society, Malinda was executive director of Good Pitch Australia, where she raised more than $14 million in philanthropic grants for the funding of 19 social impact documentaries and their impact campaigns. Her contribution has been formally recognised in a number of awards including the Australian Financial Review’s 100 Women of Influence in 2016, and the B&T Women in Media Award for Social Impact in 2019. Wink’s TEDx talk in 2018 examined how social impact documentary and campaigns can serve as a tool to strengthen democracy.

Sophia Zachariou: Zachariou is the CEO of Bunya Productions. Previously as director of screen investment, engagement and attraction at Screen NSW, she led the screen program across NSW and oversaw the commissioning of award-winning productions such as Sweet CountryMystery Roadand Mr Inbetween. Zachariou was the leading creative force behind many of the successful TV drama initiatives that Screen NSW implemented, including #shedirects, with Rachel Griffiths, Leah Purcell and Rachel Perkins. She is a passionate advocate for the emerging sector and has championed many emerging creative voices from under-represented groups during her entire career at SBS, ABC and Screen NSW. Prior to joining Screen NSW, Sophia was deputy head of entertainment at ABC TV and commissioned and executive produced over 35 award-winning television titles.