Peter Garrett Announces Short+Sweet Winners

Short & Sweet GalaLeft - Alex Broun and Peter Garret

A witty and timely twist on the “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner” story has swept the top awards at the finals of Short+Sweet 2008.

An elite industry panel of judges viewed the best eleven plays chosen from more than 140 performed over five weeks of the annual short play fest. The night was hosted by Movie Extra’s Renee Brack and actor-writer-comic Tug Dumbly.

Federal Arts and Environment Minister Peter Garrett was on hand to announced that Terror on the North Side, written by and co-starring Venetia Taylor, won Best Script and Best Overall Production awards at the Short+Sweet nudie Gala Awards Finals. Helen Tonkin won Best Actress for her performance as the upper-north shore mother who won’t countenance having a Muslim son-in-law, while Taylor also picked up Best New Talent. The play was directed by Boris Ivanoff for Rag and Bone Productions and also starred Brett Nevill and Beejan Olfat. Between them they picked up a cool $10,000 worth of prizes from a pool valued at a record $41,000 this year.

Best Actor was Duncan Fellows, in the brilliant one-hander The Diver by Melita Rowston, directed by James Beach for producers Platform 19 who also won best Independent Theatre co. Best Director was James Winter for his production of Perfect by Aaron Scully and starring Matthew Charleston and Rhiannon Owen. The play also picked up the Australian Film Commission award – a $2000 cash scholarship to adapt the play for film.

Kate Worsley and Gibson Nolte, stars of the ‘bush liar’ romantic comedy Stallion of Death by Drew Fairley, directed by Jo Turner, picked up the runner up actress and actor awards respectively. Mr Garrett also presented The People’s Choice Award to the team behind this very funny, very sexy play. It was far and away the most popular play of the entire 5 week festival according to nightly audience votes.

The team presenting the darkly funny Duet with a Dictionary – writer Noëlle Janaczewska, director Jessica Tuckwell and actors Felicity Ward and Leah Astbury – won the Movie Extra Award – a premium Foxtel subscription package and installation.

Guest presenters were on hand from major sponsors of the festival: Movie Extra, nudie, Stoneleigh Wines, Screenwise, Campbell Barnett, City Hub and 2SER. Judges were Denise Roberts (Director of Screenwise), Dennis Watkins (Head of Public Programmes, Sydney Opera House), Robert Love (Director, Parramatta Riverside Theatres), Justin MacDonnell (Arts Administrator), Lori Flekser (Australian Film Commission), Mark Cleary (Artistic Director, Short + Sweet International), Alex Broun (Artistic co-ordinator, Melbourne Short + Sweet), Adam Gelin (Writer, actor and director), Chris Peken (City Hub).

MOVIE EXTRA will screen a brilliant reality series Short+Sweet based on the finals performances, hosted by comedienne Jo Stanley and complete with all the drama of revealing back-stage footage as well as comment and feedback from an expert panel that features screen stars Georgie Parker (All Saints) and Spencer McLaren (The Secret Life of Us) plus talent agent Mark Morrisey. The 6-part series screens through June.

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