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The Chauvel Award

In 2016, the Gold Coast Film Festival reinvigorated the Chauvel Award – a prestigious industry award previously part of the Brisbane International Film Festival. 

Established in 1992, in honour of two of Australia’s most significant filmmakers, Charles and Elsa Chauvel, the Award acknowledges significant contribution to the Australian Screen Industry.

Their early silent films, Moth of Moonbi and Greenhide, were both set entirely in Queensland, while their later films, Heritage and Rats of Tobruk included substantial sequences filmed on location in the Gold Coast hinterland. 

Their greatest film, Sons of Matthew, draws on tales of the O’Reilly family and their selection of property around Springbrook on the Lamington Plateau and is the quintessential Australian pioneering epic.

Today, Gold Coast Film Festival venues are within sight of some of the locations that provided inspiration for some of the most stirring sequences in the Chauvel oeuvre. 




Charles Chauvel was one of the most influential and significant directors in shaping our early Australian film industry. He was an individual – idealistic, persevering and passionately Australian. He and his wife, Elsa, formed a dynamic filmmaking partnership that spanned thirty years of tremendous change and innovation in film craft, from the silent era to sound, colour film and finally television. Chauvel made films when it was difficult to raise financial backing, there were few technical resources and no Australian filmmaking school. He produced and directed his own films and wrote his own scripts. Chauvel’s films were milestones that helped to launch stars – Errol Flynn, Chips Rafferty, Peter Finch and Michael Pate. The Chauvel’s were innovators and pioneers, constantly testing the boundaries of how to interpret Australia and Australians on screen. Charles had many unfulfilled dreams, but what he achieved, often against all odds, testified to his amazing vision, tenacity and enthusiasm. He kept Australian features on the screen during the Second World War when other Australian feature-length films had virtually ceased. Elsa’s contribution was enormous, but Charles had the vision, a very personal one.

– Written by Ric Chauvel Carlsson




Icon of Australian screen and stage, Sigrid Thornton was the 2019 recipient of prestigious The Chauvel Award, the national screen industry award recognising significant contribution to the Australian screen industry.

Sigrid accepted the award at the Gold Coast Film Festival’s inaugural gala event; the Screen Industry Gala Awards at Movie World.

With a career spanning both the big and small screens in Australia, Sigrid is best known for her roles in some of the classics of Australian cinema including box-office hits The Man From Snowy River and The Lighthorsemen and memorable TV roles in Sea Change, All The Rivers Run, Paradise/Guns of Paradise and more recently Wentworth. 

Over the course of her career she has won many awards and honours including multiple AACTA and Logie award nominations and wins, a Centenary of Federation Medal from the Australian government for her contribution to the entertainment industry and a retrospective of her work by the National Film and Sound Archive.

Beyond appearing on screen, Sigrid’s contribution to the industry is extensive through serving on many boards and as patron for a wide range of film, television, arts and charitable organisations. Thornton is currently Executive Producer and lead actor on a series reboot of the much loved Australian drama, Sea Change.  

Sigrid participated in a special hour-long ‘In Conversation’ with Hollywood journalist Jenny Cooney at the Screen Industry Gala Awards, giving attendees an intimate look at her career on and off the screen.

Established in 1992, the award is named for influential Australian filmmakers Charles and Elsa Chauvel, and acknowledges individuals who have made a significant contribution to the Australian screen industry and culture. Thornton joins a long list of worth recipients including producers Anthony Buckley, Sue Milliken and Jan Chapman, directors George Miller, Rolf de Heer and Gillian Armstrong, actors Bryan Brown, Deborah Mailman, Heath Ledger and Claudia Karvan and cinematographer John Seale.




Australian producer Sue Milliken was the 2018 recipient of the national screen industry award – the Chauvel Award.

Sue Milliken began her career in film at the ABC in the late 1960’s. She began producing in the 1970’s with Tom Jeffrey, including the feature film “The Odd Angry Shot”.

In 1985 she produced Bruce Beresford’s “The Fringe Dwellers”. In 1990/91 she worked again with Beresford, as Australian producer of “Black Robe”, the first official Australia/Canada feature film co-production.

Her other producing credits include “Sirens”, “Dating The Enemy”, “Paradise Road”, an Imax documentary “Sydney the Story of a City”, the TV mini series “My Brother Jack”, 66 episodes of the US sc fi TV series “Farscape” and the indigenous films “Crocodile Dreaming” and “The Redfern Story”. From 1980 to 2009 through her company Samson Productions, Sue represented the completion guarantor Film Finances, Inc., in Australia.  She is a former Chair of the Australian Film Commission and a past President of Screen Producers Australia.  She has served on the board of Screen West and on the Censorship Board of Review.  In 2013 she served as National President of the Australian Cinema Pioneers.

She is a recipient of the Australian Film Institute’s Raymond Longford Award and the Order of Australia (AO) for service to the film industry, and was received a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Australian International Movie Convention in 2016.

Sue has published a memoir about life in the Australian film industry, “Selective Memory” and a book of correspondence with the director Bruce Beresford, “There’s a Fax From Bruce”.

She has just produced, with Allanah Zitserman, the Bruce Beresford film “Ladies in Black” for which she co-wrote the screenplay with Beresford.  “Ladies In Black” will be released by Sony Pictures in October.

Sue Milliken was recognised for her remarkable work in the Australian screen industry by the 2018 Chauvel Award Committee, and received the award at a special In Conversation event, moderated by Hollywood entertainment journalist Jenny Cooney.




Multi-award winning Australian actor Deborah Mailman was announced as the 2017 recipient of the national screen industry award – the Chauvel Award, as part of the 15th annual Gold Coast Film Festival.

Mailman is the first-ever Indigenous recipient of the prestigious Chauvel Award, which was established in 1992, in honour of influential Australian filmmaker Charles Chauvel. The award has cemented itself as a highly respected award within the industry, acknowledging individuals who have made a significant contribution to Australian screen entertainment.

In April 2017, the Gold Coast Film Festival presented Mailman with the Chauvel Award and welcomed the actor and audiences to a special event: David Stratton In Conversation With Deborah Mailman. The night was an intimate look at Mailman’s career on and off the screen, accompanied by footage from her films and moderated by film critic and previous Chauvel Award recipient, David Stratton.

The Queensland-born actor first received national acclaim in 1998 for her portrayal of ‘Nona’ in the film Radiance, receiving both the AFI and Film Critics’ Circle Award for ‘Most Outstanding Actress’, before going on to achieve other film credits include Mental, Bran Nue Dae, Dear Claudia, The Monkey’s Mask, Rabbit Proof Fence, The Book of Revelation, Lucky Miles and the internationally celebrated and award-winning feature The Sapphires.

Mailman was recognised for her remarkable work in the Australian screen industry by the 2017 Chauvel Award Committee, which features seven of Australia’s most highly respected and sought-after film industry members.

The esteemed committee is comprised of Jan Chapman, producer of the AFI Best Film winner, Lantana and Academy Award® winner The Piano and 2002 Chauvel Award recipient, actor, producer and AFI Chair Alan Finney, 2007 Chauvel Award recipient, Australian film critic and TV personality David Stratton, major festival sponsor Screen Queensland’s CEO Tracey Vieira, Professor Emeritus Bruce Molloy, producer Melanie Coombs and actor, producer and 2016 Chauvel Award recipient Claudia Karvan.



Australian actress Claudia Karvan was recognised as the recipient of the prestigious 2016 Chauvel Award as part of the 14th annual Gold Coast Film Festival in April 2016.

The Award recognised Karvan, who has achieved popular success and critical acclaim through her work in film and television. Having begun her career at 14, Karvan has an extensive filmography; she first appeared in Gillian Armstrong’s High Tide (1987) with Judy Davis, then in Phillip Noyce’s Echoes of Paradise (1987).

On Saturday 9 April, the Gold Coast Film Festival welcomed audiences to a special event: David StrattonIn Conversation With Claudia Karvan. The night was an intimate look at Karvan’s career, accompanied by footage from her films and moderated by film critic and previous Chauvel Award recipient, David Stratton.

In 2004, Karvan began work on the highly popular series Love My Way (2004), as creator, producer and star. The series won the Silver Logie Award for Most Outstanding Drama Series and the Australian Film Institute Award for Best Television Drama Series over three consecutive years.

Between 1987 and 2004, Karvan was nominated for twelve more Australian Film Institute (AFI) Awards, winning her category – Best Actress in a Leading Role in a Television Drama – in 1996 for her role in G.P. (1989). In 1998, she received The Palms Spring Short Film Festival Audience Favourite Award for Two Girls and a Baby (1998).



The Chauvel Award commenced in 1992 as part of the Brisbane International Film Festival (BIFF).  During the 16 years between 1992 and 2009, The Chauvel Award paid tribute to some of Australia’s most successful and influential industry practitioners.

1993 Paul Coz
1994 Fred Schepisi
1995 Gillian Armstrong
1996 Dr. George Miller
1997 John Seale, ACS, ASC.
1998 Rolf de Heer
1999 Bob Ellis
2000 Bryan Brown
2001 Robin Anderson & Bob Connolly
2002 Jan Chapman
2003 Anthony Buckley
2004 Geoffrey Rush
2005 David Bradbury
2006 Jack Thompson
2007 David Stratton
2008 Heath Ledger (posthumously)




Claudia Karvan

Deborah Mailman

Sue Milliken

Sigrid Thornton



The Chauvel Award Committee features seven of Australia’s most respected film industry members. Jan Chapman, producer of the AFI Best Film winner, Lantana and Academy Award® winner The Piano, and 2002 Chauvel Award recipient,  Melanie Coombs, producer of the Academy Award® winner Harvie Krumpet and film industry veteran, actor and producer Alan Finney, major festival sponsor Screen Queensland’s CEO, Kylie Munnich, Professor Emeritus Bruce Molloy, and screen distribution heavyweight Michael Selwyn are the esteemed 2021 Chauvel Committee members.

JAN CHAPMAN AO Jan Chapman has produced some of Australia’s most critically successful and popular films – including Palme d’Or nominated Bright Star, AFI Best Film winner, Lantana and Academy Award® winner The Piano. Jan has supported and nurtured the careers of some of its most talented filmmakers and was the executive producer on Somersault, Suburban Mayhem, Griff the Invisible and The Babadook. Her films have won many awards including co-recipient of the Palme d’Or at Cannes (The Piano, 1993), three Academy Awards® (The Piano, 1994), Camera d’Or at Cannes (Love Serenade, 1996), over 38 Australian Film Institute Awards, and have had numerous screenings and honours across the globe at the world’s top film festivals including Venice, Toronto, Berlin and Cannes. In 2004, Jan was honoured for her outstanding contribution to the Australian film industry as the recipient of the Order of Australia.

MELANIE COOMBS Melanie Coombs has produced award winning shorts, animation, documentaries and features since 1999 under her Melodrama Pictures banner. Harvie Krumpet won 2003 Academy Award ® for Best Short Animation. Mary and Max, opened 2009 Sundance, won Grand Cristal at Annecy and the Asia Pacific Screen Award APSA Best Animated Film 2009 and released worldwide. Melanie was awarded Screen Producers Association of Australia SPAA Feature Film Producer of 2009 Award. In 2011 Melanie created Optimism with award-winning creative producers Mish Armstrong (Movie Mischief) and Alicia Brown (Honeymooner) who also champion talent, push boundaries and enjoy the process: Optimism is developing and financing a broad range of feature film and TV projects in both Australia and the UK.

ALAN FINNEY OAM Alan Finney has an extensive background in film production and distribution, first becoming involved in the industry in the early 1960s. In 1971, he joined Roadshow Film Distributors and brought the movie Stork to Roadshow’s attention. This acquisition led to the formation of Hexagon Productions, the first ongoing joint venture between production and distribution entities in contemporary Australian history producing such movies as Alvin Purple, Alvin Rides Again, Petersen, End Play and Eliza Fraser. During his time with Roadshow Film Distributors, Finney supervised the release of many Australian titles including Mad Max, Breaker Morant, My First Wife, Proof, Romper Stomper, The Piano, Bad Boy Bubby, Muriel’s Wedding, The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, Dead Heart and The Castle. Alan joined Buena Vista International (now Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures) in 1998 as Vice President and Managing Director for Australia and New Zealand. Since then he has overseen the theatrical releases of The Sixth Sense, Pirates of the Caribbean, Chicago, Whalerider, Mallboy, The Man Who Sued God to name just a few and most recently, the record breaking Finding Nemo from Pixar Studios and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. He left the Disney Company in April, 2010. Finney has also served on the board of the Australian Centre for the Moving Image and as Chair of the Motion Picture Distributors Association of Australia and was previously on the board of AFI. In 2002, Alan was awarded the Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for services to Australian film. In November 2010, Alan received the Screen Producers’ Association of Australia’s Maura Fay Award for Services to the Industry.

PROFESSOR EMERITUS BRUCE MOLLOY Professor Emeritus Bruce Molloy joined Bond University Film & Television in 1994 after a distinguished career at QUT.  Past president of ACANZ, former board member of BIFF, PFTC and Barron Entertainment, he was awarded the Figuera da Foz festival medal in 1998 and the Kinetone Award at BIFF in 2005.

MICHAEL SELWYN  Michael Selwyn is a very experienced film industry professional having spent over 35 years in distribution, working for several major studios across a broad range of international markets. He is a current Member of the International Chapter of AACTA and his most recent role was as Managing Director, Australia and Vice President Australia/New Zealand for Paramount Pictures, a position that he left in late 2016. He is now working as a Production and Distribution Consultant and looking to continue his involvement with film schools and film festivals. Michael has been on the Board of the Gold Cast Film Festival since 2002.

KYLIE MUNNICH Kylie has over 25 years’ experience in the distribution and development world, having worked across a number of major US studios and independents, in Australia and the UK. Prior to becoming CEO of Screen Queensland, Kylie worked as a Scripted Sales and Co-Production Executive for Seven Studios in Sydney. Kylie has also worked as the Senior Vice President for Distribution AsiaPacific for Sonar Entertainment and Director of Drama & Comedy for Sky Vision (their international distribution arm) where she was responsible for acquiring scripted content for Sky’s international sales. Kylie has also held multiple roles within the Sony Entertainment Group including Senior Vice President UK, Ireland and Africa for Sony Pictures Television, and Vice President of Distribution for Australia and New Zealand where she was responsible for strategically developing and managing all sales functions in territories across multiple distribution platforms. She has also worked for MGM International Television selling content to AsiaPac and was the international sales manager for the Warner Bros company, Filmbank Distributors Ltd, based in London.



In 2016, the GCFF commissioned a new Chauvel award design to reflect the Gold Coast’s own landscape and inspiration for much of Chauvel’s work.

The GCFF worked closely with SWELL Sculpture Festival to commission a local artist to design the new Chauvel Award and following a complex selection process, Gold Coast based artist Leisa Russell was commissioned to create the new Award design.

The design represents how the Australian landscape and, in particular, the Gold Coast hinterland, can influence and reflect a creative journey.






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