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2018 AWARDS //

Australian International Screen Forum presents  Pioneering Woman in Film Awards

to Gillian Armstrong, Deborra-lee Furness 

and Sheila Nevins

Gillian Armstrong

Deborra-lee Furness

Sheila Nevins

The Australian International Screen Forum made three awards honoring two pioneering Australian women in film and one pioneering American woman in film at its inaugural Screen Forum held from March 19-22, 2018 at Lincoln Center in New York.

The Pioneering Woman in Film Awards went to Gillian Armstrong for directing, Deborra-lee Furness for acting, and Sheila Nevins for documentary film production.

"With our emphasis this year on women in film, we thought it was appropriate to recognize three women with who have made extraordinary contributions to world screens," said Chris Beale, Chairman of the Australian International Screen Forum.

When Gillian Anderson's breakthrough film, MY BRILLIANT CAREER, was released in 1979, she became the first Australian woman in over 40 years to direct a major film. She was part of a revival - or even a recreation - of the Australian film industry in an extraordinary creative period in 1970's and 1980's in the cinematic arts, and in what Scott Foundas (former associate program director at the Film Society of Lincoln Center, former chief film critic at Variety, and currently a film acquisitions and development executive at Amazon Studios) has called the "Last New Wave" in global cinema. She directed her first U.S. film, MRS. SOFFEL, starring Diane Keaton and Mel Gibson, in 1984, HIGH TIDE, starring Judy Davis, in Australia in 1987, OSCAR AND LUCINDA starring Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett in 1997, and DEATH DEFYING ACTS starring Catherine Zeta-Jones and Guy Pearce in 2007, among other films including many documentaries. 


The Australian International Screen Forum screened a digitally-restored version of Gillian's 1982 film, STARSTRUCK, a musical comedy which was departure from her period films. It is a well-crafted film that stands the test of time. Gillian also participated at the Screen Forum in a Women in Film panel.   

Deborra-lee Furness's breakthrough acting role was in SHAME, released in 1988. She was a pioneer in Australian film as part of the "Last New Wave". She has had a storied acting career in Australia and the United States in film as well as television (and in television particularly in NEIGHBOURS in Australia and FALCON CREST in the United States, both series having a global audience). The Australian International Screen Forum screened a 30th Anniversary, digitally-restored version of SHAME.  In it, Deborra-lee plays a motor cycle riding lawyer who seeks justice for sexually-abused girls in a small rural town. It is an important film that addresses issues still relevant today. Deborra-lee was also in the vanguard of Australian screen talent moving to New York City, with some prominent Australian actors following her lead.


Sheila Nevins has been President of HBO Documentary Films for 39 years. She has done more than anyone in the world to put documentary films on the map. She has produced over one thousand documentary films for HBO and is one of the most influential people globally in documentary filmmaking. She has worked on productions that have been recognized with 35 Emmy Awards, 42 Peabody Awards, and 26 Academy Awards, more than any other person.


She spoke at the Australian International Screen Forum in "Sheila Nevins in Conversion" with Lesli Klainberg, Executive Director of the Film Society of Lincoln Center.


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