Film Victoria hosted its annual Screen Leader Awards last night with representatives from across Victoria’s screen sector gathering to honour four Victorian industry leaders on their outstanding achievements and contribution.

The high achieving all rounder Robert Connolly received the 2017 John Howie Award in recognition of the many projects he has written, directed, produced and executive produced along with the outstanding leadership, mentorship and service he has given to the industry.

As one of Victoria’s most prolific content creators variously and collectively in his roles, Robert’s influence has also been demonstrated through his innovative business practices leading Arenamedia and CinemaPlus to become impressive  screen brands in the Australian and international markets.

Festival Director of the Indian Film Festival of Melbourne, Mitu Bhowmick Lange was recognised with the 2017 Jill Robb Award. Under Ms Bhowmick Lange’s leadership, the festival has fostered and encouraged cultural collaboration and understanding between Victoria’s multicultural communities and also enriched Victoria’s screen industry and Melbourne’s annual event calendar. Additionally, her highly successful distribution businesses Mind Blowing Films and Mind Blowing World have brought a diverse and entertaining range of Indian films to Australian audiences and provided an alternative distribution platform for the films of local independent filmmakers.

The 2017 Fred Schepisi Award was presented to acclaimed Victorian Director Kate Dennis. With intelligence, vision and a collaborative spirit Kate’s directing skills has influenced the success of many iconic Australian television shows including The Alice, The Secret Life of Us, Love My Way, Offspring, Rush, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries, Time of Our Lives, Rake, Party Tricks and Secrets and Lies. Her contribution to US dramas such as Glow, I’m Dying Up Here, Preacher and The Mindy Project saw her invited to direct two episodes of the highly acclaimed drama The Handmaid’s Tale, for which she received a Prime Time nomination for her episode ‘The Bridge.’ Imogen Banks accepted the award on Kate’s behalf.

Kris Mrksa received the 2017 Jan Sardi Award for his significant achievements as a screenwriter. As one of Australia’s most sought after drama writers, Kris’ talent as a screenwriter and script editor has seen him create an outstanding body of work reflected in some of Australia’s most loved television dramas including The Secret Life of Us, Underbelly, The Slap, Glitch, Time of Our Lives, Devil’s Dust, Nowhere Boys, Janet King and the acclaimed telemovie The King, which became the highest rating drama ever screened on subscription television in Australia at its time. Kris recently created, wrote and Executive Produced Requiem, a six part drama commissioned by the BBC and Netflix which will screen in 2018.

CEO Jenni Tosi congratulated the award recipients saying ‘these awards are our way of acknowledging four highly talented creatives who have all played a significant role in enhancing Victoria’s reputation as a vibrant creative and cultural hub, where great content is made.”

“We’re incredibly lucky to have such a huge pool of talent working here in Victoria and we look forward to them continuing to lead, inspire and achieve success in 2018.”

The event also recognised Film Victoria’s outgoing CEO Jenni Tosi who departs Film Victoria on 15 December after 10 years with the agency.

Minister for Creative Industries, Martin Foley and Film Victoria President Ian Robertson paid tribute to Ms Tosi’s achievements as CEO and acknowledged the enthusiasm and commitment she has shown to the organisation and the Victorian screen industry since she joined Film Victoria in October 2007.

Reflecting on her time at the organisation, Ms Tosi said “It has been an honour and a privilege to work at Film Victoria and see the Victorian screen industry strengthen its position over the past 10 years. In particular my time as CEO role has been immensely rewarding. My sincere thanks to the Board and fantastic team at Film Victoria and to the many production partners, collaborators, writers, directors, producers, technicians, businesses, state and federal government colleagues who have helped contribute to Victoria’s success. It’s been an absolute pleasure to work with all of you and I look forward to continue serving the industry in other ways in the future.”