Tribute to artist, writer and filmmaker Sarah Watt

BY JOANNA FLEMING

Sarah Watt. NFSA: 773441-2-1

The Australian film industry is mourning the loss of artist, writer and filmmaker Sarah Watt, who died last week after a long battle with cancer. Sarah’s deeply personal films won critical acclaim both in Australia and internationally.

Throughout her career, Sarah was a strong supporter of the National Film and Sound Archive of Australia. She worked closely with the NFSA and was committed to preserving her body of work within our collection – including short films such as her early Victorian College of the Arts film Catch of the Day (1990); Small Treasures (1995), the winner of the Baby Lion for Best Short Film at the Venice Film Festival; Local Dive (1998); and Living with Happiness (2001), which won the AFI Award for Best Short Animation. She also preserved her two feature films My Year Without Sex (2009) and Look Both Ways (2005), winner of the AFI Award for Best Film, Direction and Original Screenplay. Sarah also donated a lovely collection of original animation artwork from Look Both Ways to the NFSA.

Animation cell 56, sequence 14, from ‘Look Both Ways’ (2005)

Sarah Watt (NFSA Acq. 21850)

From June 2000 to January 2001, the NFSA hosted an exhibition of original animation artworks by Lee Whitmore and Sarah Watt called Every Picture Tells A Story. The exhibition, which was extremely well received, featured painted animation cells and backgrounds from Small Treasures and Local Dive.

The NFSA’s Big Screen touring Australian film festival was fortunate to have Sarah as its guest for two screenings in 2009 – she attended Mount Gambier in South Australia, and Nambucca Heads in New South Wales to introduce My Year Without Sex.

Animation cell 61, sequence 14, from ‘Look Both Ways’ (2005)

Sarah Watt (NFSA Acq. 21850)

At both events she proved to be a very popular and generous guest. Regional audiences loved Sarah and her work. She was humble, down to earth and had a great sense of humour, qualities which live on in the films that are her legacy. NFSA staff would like to extend our sincerest sympathies to Sarah’s family and friends.