Meet this years judges

Every year, a distinguished panel of judges is assembled to select the winning flicks. This panel consists of industry leaders, established and emerging practitioners. These cool cats bring with them a wealth of knowledge and experience, making them perfectly suited to giving the nod to the winning films.

Allison Chhorn

Director, 'The Plastic House'

Allison Chhorn is a Cambodian-Australian filmmaker and interdisciplinary artist living on Kaurna Land (South Australia). Her work explores the effects of migrant displacement and post-memory through impressionistic forms, often with other family members as subjects. Since graduating with Honours in painting at UniSA in 2014, she has made numerous films including 'Blind Body', 'Missing' and 'The Plastic House'. The latter was filmed on her family’s farm and has screened at MIFF, New York Film Festival and the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art. Her films were also screened as part of a retrospective at the 11th Cambodian International Film Festival. Crossing into the gallery, she received the 2022 Porter St Commission from ACE Gallery to make her first solo exhibition and multi-channel installation 'Skin Shade Night Day' which was exhibited as part of The National: Australian Art Now at MCA in 2023.

Harvey Zielinski

Writer, Director, Producer & Actor, 'Sweet Milk Lake'

Actor, Writer, Director and Producer Harvey Zielinski is a two-time Heath Ledger Scholarship finalist, a Casting Guild of Australia Rising Star Award recipient, and was the Red Stitch Actors’ Theatre graduate ensemble member for 2018. Harvey's acting career boasts roles under directors like Catherine Hardwicke ('Twilight') and alongside stars like Don Cheadle ('The Avengers') and Emily Mortimer ('Mary Poppins Returns'). He is recognized for lead roles in series like 'White Fever' (ABC), Catherine Hardwicke’s 'Don’t Look Deeper', and Amazon Prime's 'Deadloch'. His stage work includes notable performances in 'Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf' and 'Because the Night'. As a screenwriter, Harvey has received support from ABC’s Fresh Start Fund and has projects backed by Screen Australia and other initiatives. He's currently working on his debut feature film 'Sweet Milk Lake', which he's writing, co-directing, producing, and starring in. Harvey was the Director’s Attachment for 'The Newsreader' S2 (Emma Freeman) and the Assistant Director for 'Right Now' (Red Stitch). He just directed a television campaign for the Victorian Government. Harvey is represented by Mollison Keightley Management (Australia) and Artists First (US).

James Hewison

Creative Director, Atelier

James Hewison has worked for over two decades in film and the creative industries in Australia and internationally. He was Executive Director of the Melbourne In- ternational Film Festival from 2001 - 2006 where he founded the pioneering “Accelerator” talent incubator, then CEO of the Australian Film Institute. He was subsequently Distribution Manager for Madman Entertainment. James has consulted across development, acquisition, distribution and curation for a range of clients and institutions, from Canal+ to Hobart’s iconic Museum of Old and New Art (MONA) and the Melbourne International Festival of the Arts. He was Head of Development and Acquisitions for the award-winning New Zealand-based Curious. James has been a Mentor at the Australia Council, the Rotterdam International Film Festival and most recently at Full Circle Lab in Jakarta in 2023 and previously was a Mentor at the Australia Council (for the arts) and has served on domestic and international juries such as the Berlinale. He was on the Advisory Boards for production companies Porchlight Films and Causeway Films. James is also engaged in consulting projects for agencies ranging from the New Zealand Film Commission to ScreenWest where he was recently one of two Assessors for the West Coast Visions initiative. He has producing roles films including Justin Kurzel’s award-winning 'Nitram' and US filmmaker Rick Charnoski’s 'Warm Blood' on which he is co-producer and co- writer. He is currently a Producer on Jason Raftopoulos’ new feature film project. James is the founder and Creative Director of innovative cross-disciplinary creative residency, Atelier.

Jana Blair

Manager, Industry Skills & Development, VicScreen

Jana Blair has previously been described as a 3D printer due to her remarkable ability to transform ideas into concrete reality. Jana is currently employed as Manager – Industry and Skills Development at VicScreen, where she is focused on designing programs and initiatives that build the capacity and capability of the Victorian screen sector.

Katherine Brown

Development Executive, Stan

Katherine Brown is the Development Associate for Stan, working across all of Stan’s Original scripted, entertainment and factual programming. Before working at Stan, Katherine held positions in acquisitions, production and development at the BBC and Universal Pictures in the UK, and Academy Award-nominated production company Aquarius Films.

Michael McMahon

Company Director & Executive Producer, Big & Little Films

Michael McMahon is a former lawyer specialising in arts and entertainment law, who has produced and executiveproduced numerous film and television projects since 1997. Feature film credits are 'The Home Song Stories', 'Lou', 'Cut Snake' and 'Ali’s Wedding'. Television production drama credits include 'Call Me Mum', 'Saved', 'The Slap' and series 1 of 'Nowhere Boys'. He executive produced the Netflix series 'Clickbait'. Michael’s documentary production and executive producing credits include 'Sadness', 'Wildness', the 'Anatomy' Series, 'Next Stop Hollywood' and 'The Coming Back Out Again Ball'. He was a founder and first Executive Chairman of Matchbox Pictures Pty Ltd and has served onboards of several arts and cultural organizations. In 2018, he was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by Screen Producers Australia. Michael has held academic appointments at Swinburne University and the University of South Australia and continues to work with emerging screen talent.

We acknowledge the sovereignty of the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation whose unceded land will always be a home of storytelling and culture.