Sony’s annual short film festival, Catchlight Film Festival has returned for 2023, with entries closing on June 25th – the film festival of choice for short filmmakers of all levels, from passionate amateurs to industry veterans, who wish to showcase their talent and demonstrate how they use the Sony system to capture their stories. With 2023’s entries flooding in the organisers have now announced the judges for this year’s festival – Stefan Duscio ACS, Gracie Otto and Yolanda Ramke.

Australian cinematographer Stefan Duscio ACS is characterised by fluid camera movements and masterful use of light. His authentic and innovative approach to cinematic naturalism has made him a highly regarded collaborator of directors such as Robert Connolly, Leigh Whannell, JD Dillard and Mirrah Foulkes. Recently, he shot the Apple TV+ series Shantaram produced by Paramount and Anonymous, and executive producer Steve Lightfoot and director Bharat Nalluri. In 2022, Duscio won the Gold Tripod for Best Cinematography in a feature film for The Dry and the prestigious Milli Award for the ACS Australian Cinematographer of the Year.

Duscio said, “I’m honoured to be a judge for the excellent and ever more popular Catchlight Film Festival. The entrants and winners are the real emerging talents in our industry.”

Director Gracie Otto from Sydney learned her craft at Sydney Film School. Amongst numerous other credits she has made two highly acclaimed feature documentaries, The Last Impresario about the British theatre producer Michael White and Under the Volcano for Universal Pictures which celebrated Sir George Martin’s recording studio in the Caribbean, both of which screened internationally and at festivals. Otto’s first feature film, Seriously Red, hit cinemas in Australia, US and the UK last year and she has also been busy making smash-hit Heartbreak High for Netflix, Bump for Stan, Deadloch for Amazon and The Artful Dodger and The Clearing for Disney.

Otto said, “I’m so thrilled to be a Judge on the Sony Catchlight Film Festival. Short film making is its own artform and medium where a lot of film makers make their start and filmmakers can also refine their craft. I think this is a wonderful competition and a great opportunity for filmmakers and I’m so excited to be part of it and see what everyone has made.”

Yolanda Ramke is an award-winning screenwriter and director. Her many credits include writing the original short film Cargo (co-directed with Ben Howling). Her screenplay for the feature adaptation of Cargo was announced as the inaugural winner of the ‘Gateway LA Script Prize’ and she made her feature co-directing debut on the film, produced by AACTA® award-winner Kristina Ceyton and Samantha Jennings and US producers Russell Ackerman and John Schoenfelder. Ramke received the Australian Writer’s Guild award for ‘Feature Film – Adapted’ for her screenplay and Cargo was also nominated for five Australian Academy of Television & Cinema Arts (AACTA®) awards. Most recently, Ramke completed production as creator, writer, executive producer and director on the ABC crime series, Troppo, starring Thomas Jane and Nicole Chamoun.

Ramke said, “The Catchlight Film Festival is simply one of the freshest and most exciting festivals around today. I’m delighted to be a judge and can’t wait to view all the amazing entries.”

One of the prizes for two of the 2022 Catchlight Film Festival winners, Ash Gray in the Fiction category and Olly Sindle in Non-Fiction, was a literal place at the table at the recent Sony Catchlight Film Festival Mentors Day.

At this unique event Gray and Sindle spent an entire day being mentored by three Australian film industry heavyweights – acclaimed producer Michael Boughen, award-winning screenwriter, director and Catchlight Film Festival judge Yolanda Ramke and veteran distributor Angus Clunies-Ross from Sony Pictures Releasing.

Commenting on the Catchlight Film Festival and Mentors Day Gray said, “The Catchlight Film Festival is one of the most prestigious festivals for up-and-coming filmmakers. I can’t believe I won in the 2022 Fiction category. It was like a dream come true. The Mentors Day has been absolutely amazing. It was truly a unique experience being able to speak and get advice from Michael, Yolanda and Angus, particularly on the projects I have in development. Yolanda gave me great insight on how you get your foot in the door and how to get a production up and running. Michael was great around how to approach people and how polished you have to be. Then Angus was so helpful in explaining what distributors want and how to approach storytelling and scripts. The entire day was truly invaluable.”

Fellow Catchlight Film Festival winner and Mentor Day attendee, Ollie Sindle, agreed with Gray on many points adding, “The Catchlight Film Festival has been truly embraced by Sony. It has been brilliantly supported and nurtured by them from the ground up and has huge credibility as an honest film festival for true filmmakers in the industry now. As for Mentors Day, I never believed I could get so much information from three such amazing people in one day. Yolanda was totally relatable to and in my day-to-day work. Her creativity and overall journey was hugely interesting, helpful and inspiring. Michael was great and conveyed lots of new information on the business side of the industry, what it means to be a producer, how to present scripts and how to get directors onboard. Angus taught me things about the business of how to get a film made, distributed and acquired that would have taken me many years to learn. What a truly incredible day.”

In 2023, the Catchlight Film Festival includes four categories: Fiction (scripted), Non-Fiction (documentary), Student Fiction and Music Video.

Building on Sony’s deep roots in the global film and television industry, and its technology leadership in digital imaging, the Catchlight Film Festival aims to support the vibrant and flourishing filmmaking community in Australia and New Zealand.

Ash Gray added, “I would recommend entering the Catchlight Film Festival to any and every filmmaker. Winning the award is amazing and has done wonders for my career. Mentors Day far and away exceeded all of my expectations. I now have so much more information on how to structure a pitch and how to approach a pilot, all of which I’ll be using on my next project Deus in Inferno.”

Ollie Sindle concluded, “Entering the Catchlight Film Festival is a complete no brainer and if you are fortunate enough to win, then you will be able to experience Mentors Day which is truly invaluable. The Mentors Day panel was brilliant and interactive and taught me how to find the right audience and how to get my scripts in front of the right people. Winning a Catchlight Film Festival award and going to Mentors Day has completely changed my approach and focus and both events have truly inspired me on so many levels.”

2023 Catchlight Film Festival competition details

Eligible films for the Catchlight Film Festival must be predominately shot using a Sony camera and there are no restrictions based on date of production. Entries for the 2023 Catchlight Film Festival are open now, and close for submissions at 11:59pm on Sunday, 25 June 2023. Judging will commence on Monday, 26 June, with all finalists notified from Monday, 31 July 2023.  For more information and for full terms and conditions on the 2023 Catchlight Film Festival go to: