SAE grads create WA’s only women in film festival

Five SAE film graduates have founded WA's only women in film festival. SWAN - Perth International Women In Film Festival is taking place from 2-4 December, and to date has received almost 200 entries across 40 countries.
A group of young women and filmmakers stand together smiling at camera

Festival director, Gizela Maartens graduated with a Bachelor of Film from SAE Perth at the end of 2021. Alongside fellow SAE graduates Tabbetha Marshall, Chantelle Lucas, Lisette McAllister-Liew, and Casey Renzullo, they wanted to celebrate and give a platform to female filmmakers.

“We are Western Australia’s own film festival dedicated to celebrating powerful women in film from all over Australia and around the world. It’s an opportunity for filmmakers to network and showcase their talents, while supporting other women in filmmaking,” Gizela said.

With only 16 per cent of directors and 34 per cent of producers in Australia identifying as female, Gizela wants to see a rebalancing of representation of women behind the camera.

“A lot of the film industry is word of mouth, so environments like SWAN are so important from a networking perspective,” she commented. “We’re going to get a lot of female filmmakers there, which is going to give opportunities to people to meet and hopefully generate job openings.”

“Putting more women behind the camera, especially in those areas where women are underrepresented, is so crucial.”

Since the end of the pandemic, Perth has enjoyed an emergence of new festivals, Gizela explained. ‘We’ve seen the Perth Horror Film Festival, and the Perth Independent Film Festival doing really well, but we felt there’s a place for a female film festival in the State, like the Sydney Women’s International Film Festival, and The Melbourne Women in Film Festival.’

She added how important it is that women have a ‘safe space’ where they can share their creative work with fellow female filmmakers.

‘When you’re watching a film and that character was designed by a woman, you can tell,’ Gizela said. ‘We want women to be able to experience films and feel seen.’

The SAE Perth campus in Northbridge will host three of the five screenings, something which SAE Perth Campus Manager, Dean Pearson is extremely proud of.

“What Gizela, Tabbetha, Chantelle, Lisette, and Casey have been able to accomplish as young filmmakers, is truly inspiring for our students,” said Dean.

“With almost 200 film entries from around the world, they have shown there is a strong appetite in the industry for a festival that recognises and celebrates women behind the camera. The campus is looking forward to hosting the inaugural SWAN – Perth International Women In Film Festival, and sparking the imagination of future young filmmakers.”

In its inaugural year, the festival will be giving out 21 awards including:

Category Awards

Best International Short Film
Best Australian Short Film
Best International Short Film with Female Lead
Best Australian Short Film with Female Lead
Best Experimental Short Film
Best Animated Short Film
Best International Short Documentary
Best Australian Short Documentary

Achievement Awards

Official Selection
Audience Choice Award
Honourable Mentions
Best Director
Best Producer
Best Screenplay
Best Production Design
Best Editing
Best use of VFX
Best use of Lighting
Best Performance
Best Performance (Voice Acting)
Best Audio Composition

The SWAN -The Perth International Women In Film Festival takes place from 2 – 4 December 2022. Film nominations close on 29 October. Buy your tickets to the festival.

Three students view a camera in a green screen studio

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