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On 6th September, 600 guests congregated at the prestigious Concourse on Sydney's North Shore to attend FOA's 2017 Gala Awards Night. They were there to walk the red carpet, to enjoy beautiful performances from visually musicians Matt McLaren and Stacee Parkinson, to delight in the spectacle of one hundred dancers with disability lighting up the stage and, of course, to celebrate the winners and all the contributors in this year's festival.

It was, as we have come to expect over the last nine years, a great night - in equal parts funny, moving and inspirational. Judge Lisa Duff singled out 'the passion of the film makers and the diversity of the stories'. NOVA CEO Martin Wren spoke of the core reasons behind FOA. 'Everybody in our society deserves to participate fully,' he reminded us. 'Film does this well, because it touches our hearts.' But perhaps it was FOA patron Paula Duncan who put it most simply: 'I love this night,' she said.

Online voters gave the chocolates to Sri Lankan entrant Life of Silent, Wonthaggi's Bass Coast Specialist School doco We Are Here, and Sam Bateman's quirky one man band in Catsperger.

Best Actors went to Kenyan Bill Kasanda in Chances and a very modest Evan Rowe for The Dr's Appointment. 'I definitely didn't think I was the best Australian actor,' declared Evan. 'But I'll take that! That's fine. That's good.'

International winner, John Lawson identified the 'new normal' he was looking for in Whitney's Wedding, telling the audience: 'In the US about 1% of the characters in TV and film have a disability, and most of them are played by able bodied people...We made a film where 95% of the characters had a disability.'

Documentary awards went to Carlson School's eye-opening Yes We Can and Karenza Ebejer's story of the talented Tilly Jones. Kellyville High School's powerful depiction of Alzheimer's Disease King Jack and Jared Hargreaves' visually rich Mr. Joe took out the short film gongs. NOVA Choice winner Blaise Borrer took home a brand new Kia Cerato for his stunning declaration of identity in Life Without Limitations and expressed his gratitude 'for being able to share these stories that only people like us can tell.' And the Kia? 'I have my license! And now I have a car to go with it!'

And that's not it for 2017. FOA's third New York screening takes place on October 3-6, following a showing in Auckland on September 13 and then heading to Zimbabwe on October 21!

Previous Posts

Praise For FOA17
2017 was the most successful festival in FOA's nine-year history, with a record number of overall entries, participating countries and schools involved. Last month's gala awards night lived up ...

On 6th September, 600 guests congregated at the prestigious Concourse on Sydney's North Shore to attend FOA's 2017 Gala Awards Night. They were there to walk the red carpet, to enjoy beautiful ...

Open To All
Inclusivity is the goal of FOA and nowhere is this demonstrated more effectively than in the 2017 Open Entrant sections. For some, this competition presents an opportunity to participate, offering ...

Movie time!
So here we are! You all got your entries in, right? Well, a lot of you did because the turnout for FOA 2017 has been massive! Record-breaking. Firstly, this is the most ever finalists the festival has ...

Martin's Grand Vision
The FOA Film Festival was set in motion nine years ago at the instigation of NOVA Employment's CEO of 25 years, Martin Wren, whose passion and advocacy for bringing disability into mainstream public ...

Contact Details
To speak to Ryan about your entry please email or contact him on Aus Mobile - 0414932987

Schooling Us
With the 2017 deadline fast approaching, it seems like a good time to take another look at last year's winners and, in particular, two entrants from the schools' section. Every year, scores ...

Did you know you are living in a time of revolution? And that you are one of the revolutionaries? How, you say? Well, every time you shoot some video on your phone and post it on Facebook or YouTube ...

Disabled character or a character who has disability?
Every good character in film is written with challenges they must accommodate or overcome. Their inabilities are as important as their capabilities in order to create dynamic, engaging story arcs. The ...

Last post, I mentioned the New Zealand film Silence, one of the 2016 school entrant winners. It's an excellent piece of purist cinema that has a lot going on in its 5 minutes, so let's take ...

Jake: A Support Story
Evans High School Blacktown
Whitney's Wedding
John Lawson
We have talent too
Barker College
Samuel Wanjohi Chege
Michael Foxall
Mamre Anglican School
Bonkers Man
Northern Support Services
Skoolyard Bball
Barker College
Mr & Mrs Jones
Touch Compass
A Voice Through Photography
Claremont Special School
Mid-life Crisis
Barker College
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