Film graduates nominated for ATOM Awards

Griffith Film School has been recognised for its excellence in the creative arts, with six nominations at this year’s Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) awards.

The awards, established in 1982, recognise the best Australian and New Zealand screen content from film schools and screen industry professionals.

High-profile alumni were nominated for a range of projects, including Yolanda Ramke’s acclaimed Netflix feature, Cargo (Best Fiction Feature), Jesse Vogelaar’s comedy short Taxi! (Best Experimental Film) and Dean Gibson’s landmark documentary, Wik vs Queensland (Best Documentary – History).

Wik vs Queensland reopened the debate on indigenous land rights when it was broadcast on NITV earlier this year.

The film was made by a team of filmmakers with strong links to Griffith: alumnus Dean Gibson (Director), lecturer Helen Morrison (Producer) and Adjunct Professor Trish Lake (Executive Producer).

Dean Gibson, who graduated from Griffith Film School in 2004, said he was thrilled that the documentary had received an ATOM nomination.

“It’s fantastic to be nominated for an award that is focused on education,” he said.

“I love the idea that our film could be used in schools and universities as a resource for students.

“I think film still has enormous power, and documentaries like ours that share people’s stories have the potential to change people’s hearts and minds on an issue.”

Producer Helen Morrison said the documentary had been a massive undertaking – drawing on more than 2,700 hours of archival footage and featuring interviews with all of the major players involved in the original Wik case, from community members to politicians and lawyers.

Local audiences will have another chance to catch the film next month, when it will be screened at the State Library of Queensland as part of the Brisbane International Film Festival.

Three graduate productions were also nominated, with Brodie Stephenson’s stop-motion short, Fifty-Two, up for Best Tertiary Animation, Mary Duong’s award-winning series Two Weeksrecognised in the Best Web Series category and Tasmanian Ghost Town Projectnominated for Best Tertiary Documentary.

Bachelor of Film and Screen Media Production graduates Dennis Samuelsson and Gabbrielle Warren said it was gratifying to receive recognition for their graduate project – a labour of love that has consumed their lives for the past 18 months.

“It’s very exciting – the nomination really came out of nowhere,” said Gabbrielle, who co-wrote and produced the film.

“To be honest, we’ve just been so focused on finishing the next few episodes of the series, we haven’t even considered how it would be received.”

The film will premiere at the Unconformity Festival in Queenstown, Tasmania next month – with many of the film’s interview subjects at the screening.

The three-part documentary series explores a series of small towns in the Apple Isle that have been abandoned – from the remnants of settlements that died after a gold rush ended in the 1880s to towns struggling to survive after the closure of mines in the past decade.

“It was like a walk back through time,” explains co-writer and director Dennis Samuelsson.

“We had to do months of research and tracking down some of the inhabits of these places meant a lot of detective work – we were literally knocking on people’s doors and scouring the local phonebooks!”

Head of Griffith Film School, Professor Herman Van Eyken said the strong showing reflected the calibre of talent nurtured at GFS.

“We are very proud of what our students, graduates and faculty members are producing, and are delighted to see their work recognised at this level,” he said.

“ATOM is the second-longest running film and media awards in Australia, behind the AFI/AACTA Awards.

“Competitions like this allow our filmmakers to make industry connections and build a wider audience for their work.”

The ATOM Awards will be held in Melbourne on Thursday 29 November.