ABC: Genevieve Clay wins Tropfest 2009

February 2009

Newcastle filmmaker Genevieve Clay has won Tropfest 2009 with her short film Be My Brother.

The 20-year-old took out the top prize at the 17th annual awards in Sydney for her story about a young man with Down Syndrome.

Clay, who works for the ABC’s JTV, fought back tears as she accepted the award from actor David Wenham.

“This is incredible. I have worked so hard,” Clay told the crowd of 70,000 gathered in Sydney’s Domain.

“I want to thank the cast and crew – my beautiful lead actor Gerard O’Dwyer who is best actor. He is incredible and I hope that all you script writers out there who write for All Saints and Home And Away just write him into your TV series because this guy will make your ratings just soar.”

She said Be My Brother took almost a year to make and she was quietly confident about its chances of winning.

“Because I had an incredible cast and incredible lead actor I was confident,” she said.

Clay said O’Dwyer was the inspiration for the film.

She said she discovered him while she was making a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW.

“He just burst out with a Shakespeare soliloquy on the first day,” she said.

“I thought what an incredible young man. I thought, I have got to get this guy on film.

“(The film) is saying that you shouldn’t have prejudices – everybody has something to offer. My lead actor demonstrates that.”

Clay won a prize package worth $100,000, including a trip to LA to meet with film executives.

Earlier, 24-year-old O’Dwyer received huge applause when he was named best male actor, winning $3,000 as part of the Nicole Kidman-sponsored award.

In addition to thanking Clay and his co-stars, O’Dwyer gave special mention to his mum for allowing him to make the movie.

Second prize went to director Abe Forsythe for Being Carl Williams, which also won best comedy.

Forsythe thanked Underbelly actor Gyton Grantley and his portrayal of the gangland figure for his inspiration.

“I just want to say I wrote this film for Gyton after seeing what we went through after Underbelly,” he said.

“Gyton is one of the loveliest guys in the world. Please, if you see him, call him Gyton.”

A celebrity judging panel that included Vince Colosimo, Mia Wasikowska, Emily Browning, Rachel Ward and Wenham selected the winning films from a shortlist of 16 that were screened to audiences in Sydney and broadcast to live sites around the country.

Tropfest founder and director John Polson announced that the signature item for 2010 would be dice.

The event is dubbed the world’s largest short film festival and attracted about 650 entrants this year.


View the award winning film, Be My Brother – Genevieve’s first inclusive film and the catalyst for Bus Stop Films.