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The Emerging Filmmaker Awards

Key elements of the festival are the Emerging Filmmaker Award, the Emerging Documentary Filmmaker Award (beginning in 2024) and the People's Choice Award.


The Emerging Filmmaker and Emerging Documentary Filmmaker awards are presented to Victorian filmmakers 25 years of age or younger.  These awards are sponsored by, respectively, the Portarlington Film Society and the Geelong Waterfront Film Foundation.

The People's Choice Award was established in 2023 and is chosen by audience ballot. This award is open to all Emerging Filmmaker and Emerging Documentary Filmmaker award finalists and sponsored by the St Leonards Film Society.

Award winners receive a trophy and cash award and all finalists get to see their films screened in front of a live audience. 

Emerging Filmmaker Award Winners

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2023 Michael Hollis

Michael is an emerging writer/director with a passion for telling innovative and unique stories. His award-winning films have been screened at Australian and overseas film festivals. The Ghost Hunter is Michael’s latest project and blends characteristics of his previous work into a sentimental ghost story.

The Ghost Hunter follows the abrasive protagonist Bec following the passing of her father, Rod Roberts, renowned host of the tacky paranormal reality show ‘The Ghost Hunter’ as she struggles to find the means to grieve while blinded by her cynicism towards his career.

Michael is also the recipient of the 2023 People's Choice Award.

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2019 Tadji Ulrich

Tadji Ulrich is a writer/director based in Melbourne, Australia. His short films have been screened in over 10 film festivals both in Australia and the US, including major festivals such as Tropfest, Flickerfest and St Kilda Film Festival.


In 2018, he won the prestigious Trop JR top prize, the junior category of the largest short film festival in the world.


In 2019, he won the Emerging Victorian Filmmaker Award with his film When We Were One.


His other film-related works includes teaching filmmaking at ACMI and interning on feature films such as The Dry.

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2022 Alex Nesic

Alex is a filmmaker based in Melbourne, Australia. Since finding out his mother was an actor in China, Alex knew he wanted to work in the creative arts.

His film Unsaid was awarded Best Short Fiction by the 2022 Multicultural Film Festival. His film before that, The Shanking Gang was screened at a number of festivals, including Melbourne Lift-Off Film Festival, Global Indie Film Fest and Byron Bay Underground Film Festival.

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2021 Jack Sillitoe

Jack is an aspiring filmmaker and Fixity was his first short film.

Fixity was such a great experience for me, this is purely from the excitement of bringing a story written down on my own and gradually over time seeing it played out on screen. This is my first proper attempt at making a short film so there was a lot for me to learn.


Creating a cohesive narrative was one of the primary goals in this short film, without that the whole thing would be for nothing. So that was always in the back of his mind while filming.

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2020 Grace Griffith

Grace is a Swinburne film and television graduate. She produced, directed and co-wrote this film.

Fallen is a period drama set in Mont St Quentin, France during WW1. When a Captain tumbles into a trench with a serious bullet wound, a Private tends to the wound and distracts the Captain with conversation.


As the two men reveal intimate details of their life back home in Australia they make a chance revelation that will change the course of their war.

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