Byron Kennedy Award - Ivan Sen

Byron Kennedy Award

The Byron Kennedy Award celebrates outstanding creative enterprise within the film and television industries and is given to an individual or organisation whose work embodies innovation and the relentless pursuit of excellence. Presented by Kennedy Miller Mitchell, in association with AACTA, this Award includes a cash prize of $10,000. The recipient is selected by an appointed jury annually.

Honouring Ivan Sen

Internationally acclaimed writer, director and composer, Ivan Sen, was announced as the recipient of the prestigious Byron Kennedy Award at the Inaugural Samsung AACTA Awards.

Sen was awarded for “his unique artistic vision and for showing, by his resourceful, multidisciplinary filmmaking, that telling stories on screen is in reach of all who have something consequential to say”.

The Award comes almost ten years after Sen was first awarded by the AFI, winning the 2002 AFI Award for Best Direction for his debut feature film, Beneath Clouds.

Beneath Clouds received local and global acclaim, and was celebrated with screenings at Sundance and Berlin. The film heralded the arrival of a unique and authentic filmmaker; one unafraid to be deeply personal, yet able to draw in audiences with his affecting and genuinely cinematic storytelling.

A string of award-winning documentaries followed, including the acclaimed Yellow Fella, which screened at the Cannes Film Festival in 2005.

Sen returned to Cannes in 2011 with his latest feature film, Toomelah – the provocative yet comic tale of a young Indigenous boy who dreams of being a gangster. Toomelah was made almost single-handedly by Sen, who immersed himself in the community, shot the film with no crew (doing everything from costumes to continuity himself), and elicited remarkable performances from the film’s untrained actors.

In accepting the Byron Kennedy Award, Sen noted that he has recently rediscovered his passion for filmmaking – much to the benefit of the Australian film industry, and to Australia’s Indigenous communities, whose stories Sen has beautifully captured with this exceptional filmmaking.

AFI | AACTA acknowledges and thanks Kennedy Miller Mitchell for their 27 years of ongoing support and contribution to this special Award.