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Cairns 'girl wonder' wins best filmmaker at BUFTA

After two decades launching the careers of some of Australia's best young filmmakers, the Bond University Film and Television Awards (BUFTA) have unearthed yet another star in 17 year old Elizabeth Cullen, who was crowned Best Filmmaker for her short films The Artist and Alone at this year's red carpet event.

Ms Cullen, from Cairns State High School, is one step closer to seeing her name in lights after winning Best Overall Filmmaker and Best Directing at the BUFTA Gala Awards ceremony on Saturday night (November 28), earning her a full scholarship to Bond University on the Gold Coast to study a Bachelor of Film and Television.

She is one of only two females to win the top award in the event’s 20 year history.

The most awarded film this year was After Tracy, by Darwin High School student Nathaniel Kelly who took home the prizes for Best Drama, Best Cinematography, the Dean’s Choice Award and the Jury Prize, which included a 25% scholarship to Bond University to study a Bachelor of Film and Television.

The event was hosted by Academy Award winning Australian 'clayographer' Adam Elliot, who is best known for his animation film Harvie Krumpet for which he received an Oscar for Best Animated Short Film in 2004.

Previous winners of Best Overall Filmmaker at BUFTA have gone on to achieve blockbuster success, with 2006 winner Eric So working on numerous Hollywood films such as Captain America, Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol and The Great Gatsby, and 2011 winner Matthew Thorne taking home the Young Director Award at last year's Cannes Lions Film Festival.

Also honoured at this year's BUFTA ceremony were two students from Huntingtower School in Victoria:  Daniel Phillips, whose film Thief took out Best Animation and the People’s Choice Award; and Jayden Teekens' film Teacher Wars which took out the award for Best Comedy. Huntingtower was also awarded Best School.

Other winners included Liza Read from St Peters Lutheran College who won Best Experimental and Best Sound Design for her film Tedium, and Coomera Anglican College student Jamie Carter, whose film Fooled Me Once won Best Music Video.

Dr Michael Sergi, Director of Film and Television at Bond University, said this year's cast of aspiring filmmakers were among the best he had seen in BUFTA's history.

"This year marks the 20th anniversary of BUFTA and the talent we have uncovered since the competition began is simply extraordinary," he said.

"Each year BUFTA keeps getting bigger and better; in just seven years the competition has grown from around 70 entries, to this year's nearly 200 top quality short films submitted by talented young high school students across the country.

"This year we saw more female entrants and nominees than ever before which culminated in the exceptionally talented Elizabeth Cullen taking home the top gong this year for Best Filmmaker.

"Elizabeth's films showed an extraordinary level of creativity well beyond her years and I am certain this is just the beginning of a successful career in the film and television industry. We hope to help Elizabeth hone her craft at Bond University next year."

Dr Sergi said eligible students should start thinking about their entries for BUFTA 2016.

"The competition will open for next year's crop of aspiring filmmakers in early 2016 and we encourage students far and wide to get involved," he said.

"There are so many gifted young screenwriters, directors and cinematographers coming up through Australian high schools and BUFTA could very well be the launch pad for the next Baz Luhrmann or Gillian Armstrong."


  • BEST OVERALL FILMMAKER - The Artist / Alone, Elizabeth Cullen, Cairns State High School, QLD
  • BEST ANIMATION - Thief, Daniel Phillips, Huntingtower School, VIC
  • BEST COMEDY - Teacher Wars, Jayden Teekens, Huntingtower School, VIC
  • BEST DOCUMENTARY - Run for Your Life, Richard Barron, Anglican Church Grammar School, QLD
  • BEST DRAMA - After Tracy, Nathaniel Kelly, Darwin High School, NT
  • BEST EXPERIMENTAL - Tedium, Liza Read, St Peters Lutheran College, QLD
  • BEST MUSIC VIDEO - Fooled Me Once, Jamie Carter, Coomera Anglican College, QLD
  • BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY - After Tracy, Nathaniel Kelly, Darwin High School, NT
  • BEST DIRECTING - The Artist / Alone, Elizabeth Cullen, Cairns State High School, QLD
  • BEST EDITING - My Future, Olivia De Jonge, Presbyterian Ladies College, VIC
  • BEST SCREENWRITING - Rotten Monster, James Nolan, Xavier College, VIC
  • BEST SOUND DESIGN - Tedium, Liza Read, St Peters Lutheran College, QLD
  • JURY AWARD - After Tracy, Nathaniel Kelly, Darwin High School, NT
  • CITY OF GOLD COAST FILM MAKER - ILY, Kelvin Chan, Varsity College, QLD
  • PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARD - Thief, Daniel Phillips, Huntingtower School, VIC
  • BEST SCHOOL AWARD - Huntingtower School, VIC
  • DEAN’S AWARD - After Tracy, Nathaniel Kelly, Darwin High School, NT


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