Accelerator 2015 Participants

Accelerator Classic
Participants with films at MIFF 2015

DYLAN RIVER (Nulla Nulla): A filmmaker from Alice Springs, River’s debut documentary BUCKSKIN won Sydney Film Festival Documentary Prize, was selected for Adelaide Film Festival and aired on ABC-TV. His short film NULLA NULLA world premiered at 2015’s Berlinale, while his next shorts were BLACK CHOOK and FINDING MAWIRANGA. In 2018 River directed the feature documentary FINKE: THERE AND BACK. His six-part MYSTERY ROAD: ORIGIN had its international premiere at 2022’s Toronto International Film Festival (Prime Time section).

NOORA NIASARI (The Phoenix): Iranian-born, Melbourne-based Niasari holds a Bachelor in Architecture from Sydney’s University of Technology and a Film & TV Masters from Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). Her graduate film THE PHOENIX (Simorgh) won the New Voices & Cinema Nova awards, while HIGH TIDE was in the top 10 of 50 short films during a 2015 Abbas Kiarostami workshop in Barcelona. In 2016, she completed an ADG/Screen Australia-funded Director’s Attachment with Emma Freeman on Matchbox TV Series SECRET CITY. In 2017, she completed short film WATERFALL (Screen Australia Hot Shots Program) and her first long form documentary, CASA ANTÚNEZ, competed in the 24th Sheffield International Doc/Fest’s Official Selection. Her MIFF Premiere Fund-supported narrative debut SHAYDA won Sundance 2023’s World Cinema Dramatic Competition Audience Award, was acquired by Sony Pictures Classics for much of the world, then had its International Premiere at MIFF 2023 whilst competing for MIFF’s $140k Bright Horizons prize, before its European Premiere in competition at Locarno 2023, then won CineFest-WA’s $100k Prize, and continued global festival play including  Busan, Darwin, Hamptons, Hamburg, London, and Toronto.

RUBY RAILEY (The Best Way to Kill Your Mother): After completing a Bachelor in Performing Arts in 2011, Railey worked as a freelance director, before completing a Film & TV Masters at Melbourne’s Victorian College of the Arts (VCA).

DAVID WHITE (Killer?): White’s previous documentary and drama films include SHIHAD: BEAUTIFUL MACHINE, I KILL, THE CLEANEST PIG and KILLER? His work has screened at more than 50 film festivals including Sundance, SXSW, SilverDocs, Tribeca, MIFF and Clermont Ferrand. David was the first New Zealander to be shortlisted for a Cinema Eye Honour for his film I KILL. In 2014, he graduated from the inaugural EPCRI course run by the NFTS, championed by Sir Richard Branson and sponsored by Ingenious Media.

SANJAY DE SILVA (Maalu): De Silva’s first short film MAALU played at several film festivals including Palm Springs International ShortFest and Miami International Film Festival, MIFF and Busan. Working out of Exit Films Melbourne, De Silva directs commercials and his own web series HOOD FOOD GUIDE (supported by Tourism Victoria) and is making his next short films SMALL TALK and PAWA.

LARISSA BEHRENDT (Under Skin, In Blood): Behrendt has a legal background, is an experienced researcher and is involved with several arts organisations and educational programs. She wrote and directed Walkley-nominated documentary INNOCENCE BETRAYED, which aired on NITV in 2014, and is Professor of Indigenous Research at Sydney’s University of Technology.

DAVID HANSEN (Slingshot): In 2005, Hansen was awarded Best Documentary from Film Victoria for HIGH FIDELITY and Most Outstanding Graduate Diploma Student (VCA). His 2009 film BLOWBACK premiered at Sydney’s Underground Film Festival and won Best Political Film. In 2007, David worked as Director’s Attachment on Baz Lurhmann’s AUSTRALIA and in 2011 he won Best Indigenous Resource at the ATOM awards for ANIJA, a 48-minute film devised in a remote community. His short SLINGSHOT won 27 awards (including Best Australian Short Film at Flickerfest) and screened at Melbourne and London Film Festivals.

TESS HUTSON (Euxine): Hutson graduated in 2012 with a Bachelor of Visual Arts from Sydney College of the Arts and then completed a Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Master of Film & TV in 2014. Her graduating screenplay EUXINE won the Postgraduate Film and TV Script Award. As a part of the award, she received a mentorship from the Australian Directors Guild with director Matthew Saville. She was also the 2014 recipient of the Erwin Rado Memorial Award for Excellence.

TED WILSON (Family Holiday): A Tasmanian writer/director, Wilson has a Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) Screenwriting Masters. His previous short film BUILDING BRIDGES (Dir: Jessica Barclay Lawton) screened in the 2014 MIFF Accelerator program and he was selected for MIFF’s 37°South PostScript & Direct program for emerging screenwriters. In 2015 he was awarded three filmmaking artist residencies – in France, Italy and Russia. FAMILY HOLIDAY won the Best Short Film and Audience Choice Awards at 2016’s ReelGood Film Festival. In 2018, his debut feature UNDER THE COVER OF CLOUD world premiered at MIFF.

ISAAC WALL (Looking to Buy): Melbourne-based Wall is a solicitor who transitioned to filmmaking. In 2014 he collaborated with James Vaughan on the documentaries NEAR AND FAR and HEADING NORTH. In the same year, he also founded the directors’ collective Fountain Vista with James Vaughan, Alena Lodkina and Sam Dixon. He served as co-writer and co-producer on Alena Lodkina’s 2017 debut feature STRANGE COLOURS.

TRACEY RIGNEY (Man Real): Tracey Rigney is a Wotjobaluk and Ngarrindjeri woman who has dabbled in the arts and was the youngest produced playwright in the history of the then Playbox Theatre Company (now Malthouse). Her past credits include drama short ABALONE and documentary short ENDANGERED as well as the Steven Oliver web series A CHANCE AFFAIR. Rigney also wrote for the ABC TV series, THE WARRIORS and completed a director’s attachment on THE SAPPHIRES in 2012. She recently wrote the short ELDERS and wrote and directed a chapter for WE ARE STILL HERE, the opening night gala film for the Sydney Film Festival 2022.

JEM RANKIN (Cherokee): Melbourne local Jem Rankin graduated from the Victorian College of The Arts (VCA) Film and TV school in 2014. His graduate short CHEROKEE was awarded Best Undergraduate Film and Best Undergraduate Director at VCA’s 2014. After MIFF, CHEROKEE screened at Flickerfest and 2016’s Tribeca Film Festival.

MELEESHA BARDOLIA (Match): Melbourne-based Bardolia graduated from the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA) in 2014 where she studied directing and was the recipient of the Margaret Lawrence Social Justice Award and the MadMax Entertainment Award for Special Achievement. In 2012, she was awarded a Hot Desk Writing Fellowship from the Wheeler Centre to write a novella entitled ‘Waiting Upon Arrival’. Her previous short films have been selected to screen at the New York City International Film Festival, the Festival of Hope for Refugees and the NYC PictureStart Film Festival.

FLORENCE NOBLE (Things are Going Really Well): Noble has worked as a stills photographer, actor, writer and director. Noble created online sketch comedy Blind Pilot, and has since collaborated on numerous projects, including Emmy award-winning ABC-TV comedy 7DAYSLATER, web comedy MEANWHILE ON EARTH and online comedy series Waiheke Republique. She also directs commercials and content for Sydney and Auckland based company Eight.

MICHAEL PORTWAY (Wawi): Previously Melbourne-based Portway now lives in Estonia and is a Film & TV graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA). His VCA graduate film WAWI world premiered at 2015’s Berlinale. Originally from Canberra, Portway worked for several years at local community photography lab/gallery PhotoAccess and later worked as a photographer and archival preservationist at the Australian War Memorial.

TIM MARSHALL (Followers): Marshall’s short films have played at numerous festivals. After his 2012 short GORILLA won the UK’s Iris Prize, awarding him £25K, his next short FOLLOWERS screened in competition at Sundance and SXSW in 2015.

KEIRAN WATSON-BONNICE (Caravan): Watson-Bonnice began making films in New York in the late 1990s. Working with non-actors and improvisation, Keiran’s films often blur the lines between documentary and fiction. His short CARAVAN (premiered at Clermont-Ferrand International Short Film Festival) was a return to narrative filmmaking after many years directing and editing commercials and feature documentary.

CHRISTIAN RIVERS (Feeder) Rivers started working in New Zealand’s film industry as a storyboard artist and he has also worked as a Visual FX Art Director, CG Animator, Pre-visualization Supervisor and 2nd Unit Director. His debut feature MORTAL ENGINES, produced by Peter Jackson and starring Hugo Weaving, was released in 2018.


Accelerator Express 
Directors selected by Screen Australia’s Hot Shots Program

LUCY GAFFYA graduate of the Australian Film, TV & Radio School (AFTRS), Gaffy has worked across short films, documentaries, long-form projects and TV commercials. She was a 2009 recipient of a European Union Travel Scholarship to go to Helsinki’s DocPoint Festival with her Documentary CENTURY WITNESS. Her short films include 2010’s THE LOVE SONG OF ISKRA PRUFROCK, 201’s THE FENCE, which premiered at Busan, and 2015’s DREAM BABY. She had a 2016 attachment to TV mini-series BOND.

CORRIE JONES Melbourne-based Corrie Jones’ film WATER won Best Short Film at 2010’s Milan International Film Festival. Jones directs TVCs with Melbourne’s Guilty and received funding from Screen Australia’s Hot Shots program to direct his next short film.

MATT RICHARDS work spans short films and documentaries, TV commercials, branded content and music videos. He holds a Master of Film & Television (Narrative) from the Victorian College of the Arts (2011). His MIFF-selected short films FIRST CONTACT (2012), RABBIT (2014) and THE DISAPPEARANCE OF WILLIE BINGHAM (2015) have screened in competition globally at more than 100 festivals and collected many awards. His most recent short was acquired by two international feature film anthologies. He has also landed Film Victoria-supported director’s placements on the Matchbox Pictures series CLICKBAIT (2020) for Netflix/NBCUniversal and the ABC series TOMORROW WHEN THE WAR BEGAN (2016).

SARAH-JANE WOULAHAN is a Melbourne-based writer and director of fiction, documentary, music video, commercial, dance, transmedia and VR. Her shorts have screened at festivals internationally including South by Southwest and her HotShots funded sci-fi short A TERRIBLE BEAUTY premiered at MIFF 2016. She is represented for commercial work by Monster & Bear.


Accelerator Express
Director selected by ScreenWest’s West Coast Visions Program

CHRIS RICHARDS-SCULLY An Australian Film, TV & Radio School (AFTRS) directing graduate from Perth, Richards-Scully’s short films have screened at numerous international festivals and sold to TV worldwide. He served his directing apprenticeship on Jim Henson’s, Sci-Fi Channel series FARSCAPE and ABC-TV series PARALLAX.