MumLife, a pop musical about post-natal anxiety, was directed by Ruby Challenger and written by Gerard Dewhurst from a story by Ruby Challenger and Claudia Shepherd, all 2021 AFTRS Master of Arts Screen students. Ruby Challenger completed the Master of Arts Screen: Directing; producer Claudia Shepherd completed the Master of Arts Screen: Producing and Gerard Dewhurst completed the Master of Arts Screen: Screenwriting. The three collaborated very closely with Master of Arts Screen: Music student Sophia Christopher, who composed all the original numbers for the short film.

Other key collaborators include Benjamin Bellette (Master of Arts Screen: Cinematography), and Emily Jansz (Master of Arts Screen: Production Design).

La Cinef – previously known as Cinéfondation – was created in 1998 and is devoted to the search for new talent from film schools all over the world. La Cinef forms part of the Official Selection at Cannes and the selected films are presented to La Cinef and the Short Films Competition Jury which awards a prize to the best three at an official ceremony.

MumLife is the only Australian film in competition, and the second world premiere at La Cinef for an AFTRS capstone project, the first being Master of Screen Arts student Eryk Lenartowicz’s Dots in 2018.

AFTRS has a proud history of its graduates being selected for Cannes, including Jane Campion, Warwick Thornton, Gillian Armstrong, Phillip Noyce, Samantha Lang and Shirley Barrett.

Nell Greenwood, CEO of AFTRS, said: “Cannes is a festival that places an international spotlight on talent and launches careers so huge congratulations to the MumLife team. This is such brilliant news and a testament to the skill and dedication of the Master of Arts Screen teaching team and the value of the creative relationships that are formed by our students as they progress through the School.”

Ruby Challenger said: “I never dreamed my film would be screening in competition at Cannes. Being at AFTRS allowed me to find a tribe of incredibly talented and hardworking filmmakers that made the process intensely gratifying. With MumLife, I hope to reach other women like me and show them that anything is possible.”

Director Ruby Challenger has been on film sets since her first moments out of the hospital as a newborn. Following her unofficial education in filmmaking, her career in the film industry began in the art and costume departments, which took her all around Australia while she learned the ropes of filmmaking. Her first short film as producer, writer and director, Daily Bread, played at festivals around Australia and the world and won awards including the St Kilda Film Festival People’s Choice Award. While at AFTRS, she also directed a horror short film, Hyde, which was well-received on the festival circuit.