It is a great honor for me to receive this Lifetime Achievement Award from the Women's International Film & Television Showcase, it only saddens me that my husband, Tony Blanco, cannot be with me to share this moment, as he would be as honored and proud as I am.
I congratulate you on the beautiful initiative to support and celebrate the dedication, passion and integrity of women in film everywhere, and I thank TheWIFTS Board for considering me worthy of this precious award. I am very sorry to be unable to receive it in person. Thank you!
THE WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL FILM & TELEVISION SHOWCASE
JULY 2nd 2016
Passion & Integrity Commerce & Creativity Equality Not Hierarchy
Maya Newell - Australia
The Documentary Award - Gayby Baby
Maya Newell, Director, is the recipient of the TheWIFTS Documentary Award for 2016 Gayby Baby.
Her directorial feature film debut, the film is rendered with insight and understanding that emanates from the screen. Gayby Baby portrays a wide and diverse selection of families, and is an enlightening and poignant look at growing up from the viewpoint of children in an LGBT household, which illustrates that environment is more crucial than convention.
Maya Newell was born in 1988 in Sydney, Australia and was raised by two mothers
in an inner city suburb. As a child she stubbornly refused to wear paired socks.
She attended Burwood Girls High School where she discovered visual storytelling and in later high school made a short film, Lacuna, that explored the bond between an agoraphobic mother and her daughter as they respond to the increasing moral panic intrinsic in media penetrating the home.
Lacuna won Best Fiction Short at the Robin Anderson Film Awards and won Maya a year's scholarship at Sydney Film School. She promptly abandoned her plans to study medicine at university, and decided to take a year to explore filmmaking.
At 17, Maya made a number of experimental shorts on 16mm as well as a mid-length feature documentary, Richard: The Most Interestingest Person I've Ever Met, a stark, bittersweet, and, at times, humorous portrait of Richard Blackie - consummate eccentric, toy collector and former Michael Jackson impersonator - whose public obsessions and private torments are laid bare in this devastating portrayal of the last few months of his life.
It was here that Maya embraced her own obsession - but with documentary storytelling. Richard screened at festivals nationally and internationally and was distributed on DVD in Australia.
After graduating from a BA in Media and Communications at University of Sydney/London at Westminister University, Maya completed her award-winning short, Two, an an expose of a secret personal world of adult babies, with the focus on an eccentric middle aged British man with a furry fetish, who is locked into a continual state of wanting to being two years old. Two premiered at Slamdance Film Festival, AFI Docs and won Best New Documentary Talent of Australia at AIDC, Adelaide Film Festival.
With producer Charlotte Mars, Maya directed Growing Up Gayby (2013), which was broadcast in Australia in 2013 after being selected for ABC's Opening Shot emerging talent program.
Maya's debut directorial feature Gayby Baby, made in collaboration with Charlotte Mars, tells the story of same-sex families from the perspective of the kids. The film broke crowdfunding records raising over $110,000 with the most individual donors and amount raised for any film in Australia at the time.
Gayby Baby was premiered at Hot Docs 2015, was screened internationally at film festivals including London BFI, Doc Leipzig, Sydney and Melbourne. Gayby Baby was nominated for a best documentary Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA), an Australian Writers' Guild - AWGIE Awards - writers award and won Australian Teachers of Media (ATOM) best documentary award.
Gayby Baby was selected for Good Pitch² Australia, where the film garnered a coalition of partners to for Marriage Equality and Adoption Equality in Australia. In 2015-16, Gayby Baby was 'banned' in schools across NSW by top government ministers sparking a national debate about the treatment of LGBTIQ families. Despite the backlash, the film screened in Federal and State Parliament Houses all over Australia, and Maya and Charlotte went on to develop and release Australia's first comprehensive educational resource to represent same-sex parented families and explore family diversity – Gayby Baby's School Action Toolkit.