Western Sydney screen initiative announces 2018 participants

Producers Nalina Okey and Danielle Stamoulos are among 10 people who will take part in Behind Closed Doors, a new program designed to nurture emerging storytellers from Western Sydney.

The initiative is being run by CuriousWorks’ new division Co-Curious, supported by Screen Australia’s Enterprise Ideas program, with the aim of introducing fresh voices and untold stories to the screen sector.

Each will work with Co-Curious and its partners to create a series of eight connected short films. The anthology will be developed for TV and online broadcast with a chance for theatrical screenings as well.

They will be supported by a team of industry practitioners including Sheila Jayadev and Lyn Norfor from Emerald Productions and writer-producer Blake Ayshford.

Minto-based Okey emigrated to Australia in 2012. Overcoming language barriers, she found her voice and a way to share stories in the universal language of film.

Stamoulos from Punchbowl is a producer, writer and actress who has worked in screen and theatre.

The eight writers selected are:

  • Nisrine Amine from Parramatta is a writer, actress and producer with a keen eye for quirky and authentic character-driven stories with nuanced characters.
  • Bina Bhattacharya from Campbelltown focuses primarily on the migrant experience, queer identity and class/race tensions. Her work has been selected for festivals in the the US, Canada, the UK, Germany and the Ukraine.
  • Matias Bolla from Fairfield West has a passion for visual storytelling, believing strongly in the power of experience.
  • Claire Cao from Canley Vale is a published short story writer. She enjoys writing romantic comedies that are complex, character-driven and culturally-specific.
  • Arka Das from Harris Park is a screenwriter with an impressive screen and theatrical résumé.
  • Duygu Dogan from Quakers Hill likes to tackle stories featuring characters who struggle to find a sense of recognition and belonging when they’re a part of two different cultures – especially issues such as alienation and assimilation which immigrants face.
  • Vonne Patiag from Minchinbury is a multi-skilled creative who aims to develop projects that explore the intersection between gender, sexuality and ethnic identity, focusing on racism and class prejudice from a Western Sydney perspective.
  • Tien Tran believes in migrants and people of colour empowering themselves by reclaiming their stories. His writing is inspired by growing up in the Vietnamese diasporic communities of Perth.

Co-Curious CEO S. Shakthidharan said: “A diverse group of assessors looked over the applications and we had an incredibly hard time choosing the final writers and producers. Some of the chosen participants have never worked in the industry before, others are already taking their first steps. But all of them are highly collaborative, technically skilled and passionate about shining a light on Australia’s untold stories.

“The depth and breadth of unrecognised talent in Western Sydney is immense. We must continue to increase the opportunities available in this region that has been underserved for decades. In doing so, we are building a better film and TV industry for storytellers and audiences alike.”