Press release from the Sydney Film Festival

The Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award was established by a board of trustees made up of friends and collaborators of the late innovative Australian filmmaker Peter Rasmussen. The trustees committed to raise the funds in perpetuity for the purpose of awarding a $5,000 cash prize, the Peter Rasmussen Innovation Award. The award will be given out each year at Sydney Film Festival to an Australian whose work in film, machinima or new media that embodies a visionary spirit and a relentless determination in the face of obstacles – financial or otherwise – to create high quality works for the screen.

This years award has been supported by the NSW FTO and not only shows the agency’s understanding of the contribution Peter Rasmussen made to our creative industry but also of the importance of innovation in all screen forms.

The recipient’s work may be described as fringe, maverick, innovative. It may be pushing boundaries in form or mode of production, and may sit outside the usual categories of films shown at the festival.

For details go to or please contact the festival office at or call 9630 5305.

Who was Peter Rasmussen?
Danish-born Australian filmmaker Peter Rasmussen was best known in the Australian Film Industry as the co-writer of the feature film ‘In the Winter Dark’. Yet Peter’s work sat largely outside the commercial mainstream. From writing Australia’s first no-budget feature, ‘Mad Bomber in Love’, to writing and directing innovative award-winning short films ‘The Picture Woman’ and the machinima short ‘Killer Robots’, to co-creating the world’s first full-length machinima feature, ‘Stolen Life’, Peter’s works were always independently generated, passionate endeavours, made on ‘the smell of an oily rag’. In a business where the word artist is scorned, Peter worked as one – though he would have been mortified to hear himself described as such. His films were made because he felt they had to be made, by any means necessary. The lack of money never deterred him from his drive to create. When his chosen medium of film became too costly for him to pursue, Peter took a detour into the new medium of machinima, in which he is now known as a world pioneer.

It’s ironic to hear him described as “visionary” because Peter was legally blind. The macular degenerative eye disease that left him with only peripheral vision, had forced his career move twenty years ago from cinematographer to screenwriter. In order to write, he invented and adapted various optical apparatus to enable him to see the computer screen. Weary of being ‘the blind filmmaker’, Peter took his life in March, 2008. Some months earlier, Peter Rasmussen’s and Jackie Turnure’s machinima feature ‘Stolen Life’ had won the major award at the New York Machinima Filmfest 2007. The New York Festival in recognition of Peter’s enormous contribution to pioneering the new medium has named an annual honorary award after him.

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