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 to the hype. Attendees came from all over Australia and the world to celebrate the achievements of the filmmakers and people with disability in general. Here's what they had to say:

NOVA CEO and Focus On Ability founder Martin Wren

"The film makers here tonight are inspiring. You're helping to take off those labels of dis-ability and replace them with accepted, valued, cherished members of society."

FOA Judge Lisa Duff from Screen Australia

"I was really impressed by the quality and the production values of the films, but also the passion of the filmmakers and the diversity of the stories ... This event really celebrates ability - in all its shapes and forms. Society is so rich and textured and colourful, yet often you just see a monochrome able-bodied experience reflected on the screen."

Gayan Pradeep, maker of Life of Silent

"This is my first international award in my cinema life. This award will be a turning point for people with disability in Sri Lanka."

Mick Green from Bass Coast Specialist School, makers of We Are Here

"This film was created by a little school with a big heart. It's had a snowball effect in our region with word on the abilities of these kids with disabilities spreading through newspapers, social media and local ABC radio."

Sam Bateman, maker of Catsperger

"My two cats are very hard to work with, but the message of being yourself obviously spoke to people."

Karenza Ebejer, maker of Tilly's Symphony

"Tilly had so much going for her - so much determination and a really courageous person. She plays five instruments and she's got five disabilities. I wanted to feature her in her surroundings where she grew up in rural NSW. I wanted to show where she's from and the music comes from that place. It inspires her to make music."

Jared Hargreaves, maker of Mr. Joe

"I heard about FOA a few years ago but I hadn't quite known how to approach the topic so I guess I chose to bring in some autobiographical elements. I have Asperger's myself. It's my dream to make movies so that's what I'm doing."