The 2016 Natalie Miller Fellowship grant was awarded to Sasha Close today at the Australian International Movie Convention on the Gold Coast.
Established in 2011 to recognise the unique contribution of Natalie Miller AO, the Fellowship awards a grant to a woman in the Australian screen industry who has demonstrated initiative, entrepreneurship and excellence. The Natalie Miller Fellowship (NMF) was created to nurture the next generation of female leaders in the Australian screen community and inspire them to reach the very top of their fields.
Sasha Close, a film programming manager and independent cinema consultant who has worked on both sides of the industry, started in distribution before moving into exhibition and programming. Sasha is a current member of the Independent Cinemas Association of Australia board and a previous panellist at ICAA Conferences. Her current role is programming for Wallis Cinemas and a consultant for 20 independent Exhibitors.
On receiving her grant Close said, “The Natalie Miller Fellowship is an inspiration for women in all sectors of the screen industry and has encouraged me to dream big! It is a tremendous honour to be the 2016 recipient; the Fellowship will assist me immensely by providing a unique opportunity to broaden my skills and experience with an overseas secondment and mentorship.”
This year, NMF industry judges saw a competitive field of quality Australian applications from across Distribution, Production and Exhibition.
Sue Maslin, President of the Fellowship said, “We are thrilled with the judges’ selection of this year’s recipient of the Natalie Miller Fellowship. Sasha Close is one of the few female executives in cinema and film programming in Australia. It is critical that more women have a seat at the table deciding what Australian audiences get to see on their screens and the Fellowship will enable Sasha to reach her potential as a leader in the exhibition sector.”The fellowship is the only grant of its kind in the country and has doubled to $20,000 after fund-raising efforts led by Fellowship Ambassador, Kerry Gardner and additional funding support from major sponsors Deluxe, The Myer Foundation, Andy Inc and Hoyts.
Previous recipients have included 2015 winner Courtney Botfield (Independent Film), Rebecca Hammond (Deluxe), Harriet Pike (Wildbear Entertainment) and Rachel Okine (StudioCanal). All of these women have experienced substantial career progression since receiving the Award.