Miff Award Launch Img 8114 Straightened

Kearney Group partners with MIFF to shine the spotlight on First Nations filmmakers.

11 July 2023 Read time: 3 min

Kearney Group announces exciting new MIFF partnership and the inaugural “First Nations Film Creative Award”.


Melbourne, Australia: Kearney Group is delighted to announce its groundbreaking partnership with the prestigious Melbourne International Film Festival (MIFF). This new partnership marks a significant milestone for both organisations as MIFF enters its 71st season, continuing its legacy as one of the world’s oldest and most renowned film festivals.

Since its inception in 1952, MIFF has consistently showcased the finest works of cinema from around the globe, and this year is no exception. With a rich history comparable to festivals in Cannes and Berlin, MIFF has earned its place as a cornerstone of Australia’s cultural landscape. 

Kearney Group is honoured to be part of this storied tradition and is collaborating with MIFF to bring the inaugural “First Nations Film Creative Award” to life in 2023.


New MIFF award to shine spotlight on First Storytellers.


“We are incredibly proud to partner with MIFF and present the First Nations Film Creative Award,” says Kearney Group CEO, Paul Kearney. “This award is a celebration of talent, creativity and the 65,000+ year legacy of storytelling within First Nations communities.”

Al Cossar, Artistic Director of MIFF, echoed his enthusiasm, stating, “We are thrilled to join forces with Kearney Group, an organisation that shares our passion for championing diverse perspectives and fostering talent within the film industry.”

Both organisations, however, say this new award goes beyond just recognising First Nations filmmakers and their contributions to Australian cinema. It also creates a platform for traditionally marginalised voices to speak to highly engaged and yet, disparate audiences. It fosters unlikely connections and sparks deeper conversations. Ultimately, the First Nations Film Creative Award is an invitation for social change.

“We believe in the power of storytelling and the transformative impact it can have on society,” says Paul. 

“Through this partnership, we’re devoted to centring First Nations voices. And it’s our hope that, in turn and in time, it promotes a more inclusive and equitable Australia.”


MIFF Partnership is reconciliation in action.


This latest partnership between Kearney Group and MIFF reflects a shared commitment to inclusivity, diversity, and cultural representation. It’s also another signal from Kearney Group that the practice is committed to taking an active and participatory approach to reconciliation.

“We’re deadly serious about reconciliation,” says Paul. “We recognise the role that the general public and businesses like ours need to take in unlearning and recalibrating the status quo.”

The Group’s recent initiatives include seed funding the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab, headed by author and scholar Dr Tyson Yunkaporta, at Deakin University’s NIKERI Institute. Paul is also the current Chair of AIME, the global mentoring network founded in 2005 by Bundjalung man, Jack Manning Bancroft.


MIFF Awards return.


The 2023 MIFF Awards return this year, featuring one of the world’s richest feature film prizes, along with the new First Nations Film Creative Award. 

“In a year in which Australia is focused on the substance of First Nations representation in political process,” says Al, “we look to the screen to recognise the vitality, dynamism, and indelible practice of First Nations screen creatives; those who define how we in fact see ourselves, and show a path forward with storytelling.”

The new award will be presented to an Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander creative who has demonstrated excellence in the craft of filmmaking and is involved in a project at the Festival.

The winner will be determined by an illustrious panel of First Nations jurors, including Birrangga Film Festival artistic director, Tony Briggs (Yorta Yorta/Wurundjeri).

“Awards that provide funding, support and recognition are so important to enabling creative talent to develop their future projects and networks,” says Tony. “I’m looking forward to seeing the films and filmmakers in consideration for this Award during MIFF.”

The winner will take home a $20,000 cash award, along with a comprehensive package of in-kind financial services tailored to support the winner’s future projects.

“We acknowledge the historical exclusion of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples from financial opportunities, and we’re committed to building a brighter future,” says Paul. “By providing both a cash award and financial services, our goal is to share our resources and expertise, and build a lasting connection with the winner, rooted in mutual respect and friendship.”


Join us for Closing Night and the First Nations Film Creative Award.


The First Nations Film Creative Award nominees will be revealed in late July. Winners will be announced at MIFF’s Closing Night Gala on Saturday, August 19, 2023.

Kearney Group and MIFF invite film enthusiasts, industry professionals, and the wider community to join them in this celebration of cinema and First Peoples stories at the 71st Melbourne International Film Festival, running August 3 to 20, 2023.



Media Contact.


For more information, please contact:

Annie Lillico Lewis
Brand Manager, Kearney Group
+61 3 9428 8822


Speak to the team.