Karina Holden takes home the Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award

Karina Holden, recipient of the 2021 Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award. Photo courtesy of Sydney Film Festival.

Acclaimed director, writer and producer Karina Holden is the recipient of the 2021 Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award, announced at the Closing Night of the 68th Sydney Film Festival.

Accepting the award, Karina Holden acknowledged the moment was both a meaningful and significant surprise that tops off an impressive few years of delivering boundary pushing projects.

“To hear I’d been selected as the Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award winner was a surprise for me and came at such a significant time. The isolation of the last couple of years has meant pouring myself into meaningful content and passion projects, while fighting against a tide of seeming impossibilities,” Ms Holden said.

“My focus has been on pushing the creative boundaries of how we tell stories, nurturing opportunities for my co-collaborators, and finding a rich vein of audience connection. The effort has been worth the reward. And to be recognised by the city I love and grew up in, is a career high for me.”

Head of Screen NSW Grainne Brunsdon said Karina Holden was an excellent choice for the award, which acknowledges a NSW screen practitioner who has contributed significantly to the NSW screen industry.

“Screen NSW takes great pride in supporting both screen talent and projects that reflect real-life stories. It is timely and rewarding to see Karina Holden presented with the Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award, which reflects her huge contribution to our homegrown industry,” Ms Brunsdon said.

“Karina’s impressive depth of work has demonstrated the strength of the local industry, challenged the status quo and changed the media landscape both in NSW and beyond.”

The award was presented to Karina Holden by filmmaker Ian Darling who paid tribute to her skills as a filmmaker and social impact campaigner.

“Karina is one of the true champions of the documentary and the factual sectors in Australia, who has revealed her incredible talents as a film director, producer and social impact campaigner,” Mr Darling said.

Karina Holden’s key series include Love on the Spectrum, Employable Me, Go Back to Where You Came From, Redesign My Brain, and Changing Minds. Holden was recently awarded the Okeanos Prix for services to the Ocean, in recognition of her feature debut, Blue. Her most recent production, See What You Made Me Do (SBS) relates to domestic violence, and has sparked a national conversation.

Holden has 24 years’ experience in screen production and is known as a dynamic industry leader working in both the independent sector as a Head of Production, Creative Producer and Writer/Director; and in the ABC as Commissioning Editor of Science and Natural History, and Head of Factual TV.

The $10,000 cash prize is presented annually by Screen NSW, under the auspice of Sydney UNESCO City of Film, to an outstanding NSW-based screen practitioner whose work stands for innovation, imagination, and impact.

The prize also includes up to four-weeks’ residence at ‘Charlie’s’, a hub for the Australian film-making community in Los Angeles, opened by Australians in Film, in partnership with Create NSW, AFTRS, Screen Queensland, Film Victoria and South Australian Film Corporation.

Image: Karina Holden, recipient of the 2021 Sydney UNESCO City of Film Award. Photo courtesy of Sydney Film Festival. 
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Published: 15 November 2021