AFTRS Graduation Ceremony Celebrates A Year Of Student & Alumni Success

December 10, 2015

AFTRS wraps up a year of success with their 2015 Graduation Ceremony.

AFTRS Graduation Ceremony Celebrates A Year Of Student & Alumni Success

AFTRS wraps up a year of success with their 2015 Graduation Ceremony.


The Australian Film Television and Radio School (AFTRS) wraps up a year of success with today’s 2015 Graduation Ceremony.  A highlight of the ceremony was the awarding of the AFTRS’ Honorary Degree (Doctor of Arts) to broadcaster, commentator and filmmaker Phillip Adams, AO.

Adams played a key role in the revival of the Australian film industry in the 1970s.  He was the author of a 1969 report that led to legislation by Prime Minister Gorton in 1970 for an Australian Film and Television Development Corporation (later the Australian Film Commission) and the Experimental Film Fund as well as the eventual creation of an Australian national film School (now AFTRS). Phillip was one of the original members of council for the interim School.

As the Honorary Degree recipient, Phillip Adams joins a select group of significant Australian film and television industry practitioners including Dr George Miller, Baz Luhrmann, John Edwards, Jan Chapman, Phillip Noyce and Darren Dale.

Mr Adams was presented with his Honorary Degree by producer Sue Maslin.  Sue, a graduate of the AFTRS Masters of Screen Arts & Business degree, produced this year’s smash hit film The Dressmaker,which has taken more than $15m to date at the Australian box office.

Senator Mitch Fifield, Minister for the Arts, sent a letter of congratulations and encouragement to the graduates: “You will become our storytellers, as you discover, curate, direct, produce and share your experiences and our stories.”

Amongst the graduates today were recipients of the Masters of Screen Arts & Business (MSAB) program, including Imogen Banks, one of the producers of the acclaimed recent series The Beautiful Liefor ABC TV; Chloe Rickard who achieved the first commission by a streaming service in Australia with No Activity, which premiered on Stan in October; David Gurney, whose 52-part children’s animation seriesFanshaw & Crudnut went into production this year; and Paul Wiegard, who was executive producer and distributor of That Sugar Film, which this year became the highest grossing Australian documentary ever (excluding IMAX).

AFTRS CEO Neil Peplow announced at Graduation that AFTRS has partnered with Foxtel on an initiative to provide seed funding and facilities for a new business venture for an AFTRS MSAB graduate team.  Brooke Petit from Foxtel presented the new prize, The Foxtel New Media Award, to Bridget Callow-Wright, Chloe Rickard and Peter Drinkwater. The team will receive a grant of $20,000 and mentorship from Foxtel executives and AFTRS lecturers as well as a workspace at the School.

The 2015 AV Myer Indigenous awards for Exceptional Talent were awarded to Kodie Bedford and Bernard Namok.

Neil Peplow said:  “This year’s graduation shows that our students are already active in and linked to the industry we were set up to serve when Phillip Adams and his colleagues helped establish the School in 1973. The Foxtel New Media Award is another fantastic opportunity for our students to help shape the future of that industry through the establishment of a new company.”

Mr Peplow said AFTRS had much to celebrate with both current students and alumni achieving considerable success this year.  On the festival front, several student films have won prizes both at home and abroad and were selected for major festivals over recent weeks.

A Boy Called Su (Vedrana Music, Graduate Diploma Directing 2014) won the Special Jury Award (Fiction) at this year’s Gold Panda Awards at Sichuan TV Festival in China.

The film premiered in September at Encounters Short Film & Animation Festival in the UK and has since screened at Uppsala International Short Film Festival, Sweden, both Academy qualifying festivals.

The Wonderful (Erin White, Graduate Diploma Directing 2013) won Best Short Film at BOFA (Breath of Fresh Air Film Festival) in Launceston. The Wonderful also won Best Student Award at Atlanta Shorts Fest in the US.  Earlier in the year the film won Best Director and Best Original Score at the St Kilda Short Film Festival.

All God’s Creatures (Brendon McDonall, Graduate Diploma Directing, 2012) won best short film at the Antipodes (Aust/NZ film fest) Film Festival in Saint-Tropez. Warwick Young’s (MSA 2013) Stuffed was runner up.

Three films screened at Dungog Festival last month – Beneath Land and Sea (Jacob Schiotz, Graduate Diploma Documentary 2014), Symphony of Strange Waters (Saba Vasefi, Graduate Diploma Documentary 2014) and Stuffed.

George-Alex Nagle’s (Graduate Diploma Directing 2013) film Embracehas been selected for the UK Film Festival competing in the Best International Short category. At Midnight (Amber McBride, Graduate Diploma Documentary 2014) was selected for Flickers: Roving Eye International Film Festival in the US.Foal  (Vanessa Gazy, MSA, 2014) was selected for this weeks’ Poitiers Film Festival in France.