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Anya Beyersdorf, Brooke Goldfinch, Alex Murawski, Alex Ryan, 2016 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship.
2016 Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship

Anya Beyersdorf, Brooke Goldfinch, Alex Murawski and Alex Ryan, are the four recipients of the first Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship.

The four filmmakers will each receive a $50,000 grant to make a short film, which will then premiere at the 2017 Sydney Film Festival.

The fellows were selected from a shortlist of 21 emerging filmmakers nominated by The Weinstein Company from more than 355 Australians who last year entered the global Lexus Short Film series.

The announcement was made at the world premiere of Australian actor and filmmaker Damian Walshe-Howling’s short film MESSiAH starring David Gulpilil, at the State Theatre on the evening of 14 June. The film, made in conjunction with The Weinstein Company, is the result of Walshe-Howling’s win at the international Lexus Short Films initiative, where he was selected together with two other filmmakers from France and the USA from more than 4,400 submissions worldwide.

Renowned Australian actress Judy Davis presided over the selection process as Jury Chair alongside Sydney Film Festival Director Nashen Moodley, Lexus Australia’s Adrian Weimers, Australian producer and SFF board member Jan Chapman AO and indigenous Australian producer Darren Dale.

Jury Chair Judy Davis said, “Each of these four young filmmakers has shown incredible promise and vision in their Fellowship submissions. They have demonstrated tenacity and dedication, creativity and capacity, as well as the passion to follow their dreams. The jury is very much looking forward to seeing what this new generation of Australian filmmakers will create in the coming year.”

Nashen Moodley, Sydney Film Festival Director said, “The Fellowship recipients are of the highest calibre of emerging Australian talent. They have screened at some of the world’s top film festivals, and some have worked with the most renowned directors of our time. The Festival is proud to be providing a platform for these cutting-edge short film projects at our Festival in June 2017.”

Adrian Weimers, Corporate Manager, Lexus Australia said, “The Lexus Australia Short Film Fellowship, developed in partnership with Sydney Film Festival, builds on our international platforms of discovering emerging talent including the Lexus Design Award and the Lexus Short Film series.”

“Lexus Australia is deeply committed to elevating emerging talent locally. Our support of these new voices for filmmaking is an investment in innovation, and a way to keep art forms evolving in Australia,” he said.

Meet the Inaugural Lexus Australia Short Film Fellows:

Anya Beyersdorf is not only an actress turned writer-director, she is also a current Doctor of Arts candidate at Sydney University, founder of the Sydney filmmaking collective Gifthorse Films, and an AWGIE award winner. Beyersdorf’s short films have played in competition at high profile film festivals internationally including Palm Springs International Shortsfest, Rhode Island International Film Festival, Seattle International Film Festival, St Kilda Film Festival and Flickerfest International Film Festival.

“As an emerging filmmaker, to earn and be granted the support of both Sydney Film Festival and the Lexus Australia Fellowship is a great vote of confidence in my future career as a filmmaker in Australia. And I am very grateful and thrilled to bring my project to life as an inaugural fellow of this critical program for Australian screen stories. There are so few opportunities to practice the craft of short film making before moving on to longer form projects and I thank both Lexus and the Sydney Film Festival for considering me for this project.”

Brooke Goldfinch, studied filmmaking at NYU and last year won the Rouben Mamoulian Award for Best Director at Sydney Film Festival’s Dendy Awards for her short film Red Rover. Goldfinch was selected to write and direct a segment of James Franco’s compendium feature film The Color of Time, and also triumphed over a record number of applicants to become one of two director’s attachments on the set of Alien: Covenant, Ridley Scott’s sequel to Prometheus currently shooting in Sydney.

“The prestige of being selected for this Fellowship is an important step in my career and I look forward to collaborating with Lexus and Sydney Film Festival.Outbreak Generation will be a memorable, special film that will entertain and enthrall. It speaks directly to my first feature and will be instrumental in getting it off the ground!” she said.

Alex Murawski is an AFTRS graduate whose film school short Kiss screened at the Berlinale as well as many other international film festivals, including Cannes and Palm Springs International Shortsfest where it took second prize, and has over 70,000 views on YouTube. Murawski, has also completed a director attachment on Bruce Beresford’s Emmy-nominated mini-series Bonnie and Clyde.

“The Fellowship will substantially help one of my goals when I left film school: to be a versatile filmmaker, able to work with varied narratives, worlds, budgets, environments and people. I want to make films people can’t wait to see, and going through the Fellowship process will aid me in sharpening these skills – and show I am ready for the next level.”

“Furthermore to have my film premiere at Sydney Film Festival exhibits my filmmaking at a higher level of prestige. I’ve never had a film screen there and as a long-time attendee of the Dendy Awards, it’s something close to my heart.”

Alex Ryan is a UTS and AFTRS graduate with a number of award-winning shorts and music videos to his name. Not only does he run his own production company, Wedge Tail Productions, his most recent short Ngurrumbang screened at festivals around the world, was a Dendy Awards Finalist at Sydney Film Festival (2013) and received an ADG award nomination. His music video for The Preatures’ ‘Is This How You Feel’ won Rolling Stone Magazine’s Best Music Video (2013).

“Being chosen by this prestigious jury will bring a level of exposure and credibility to my work that will support the next steps in my career. The honour of having the completed film screened at Sydney Film Festival 2017 at the State Theatre will bring my work to the attention of filmmakers, critics, and film goers in a new and powerful way, in my hometown.”

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