Warwick Thornton, Gracie Otto and Noora Niasari among nominees of Australian Directors’ Guild Awards

Australian directors in all screen formats (features, documentaries, shorts and series) will gun for the Australian Director's Guild Awards this December.

The full list of nominations for the 2023 Australian Directors’ Guild Awards has been announced today.

First Nations director Warwick Thornton is among a slew of Indigenous Australians nominated. Thornton, a Kaytetye man, has been nominated for his direction of The New Boy, about an orphaned Aboriginal boy sent to live in an outback monastery, which the Australian Director’s Guild says ‘set the scene for a strong focus on First Nations storytelling among this year’s awards nominees’.

Australian Directors’ Guild Executive Director Ms Sophie Harper said the awards would be a ‘celebration of the very best in Australian directing’ across all genres and platforms.

‘The Australian Directors’ Guild Awards are the only awards in Australia where directors are judged by their peers, many of whom are world-renowned for their own achievements,’ Harper said.

Read: The New Boy review: an enchanting and intriguing film


Vying with Thornton for Best Direction in a Feature Film (Budget $1m or over) is an eclectic mix of talent. Tehran-born Australian director Noora Niasari has been nominated for her debut feature Shayda, while horror film siblings Colin and Cameron Cairnes have been recognised for Late Night with the Devil.

Gracie Otto has been nominated for her debut narrative feature film Seriously Red and former actor and director Jeffrey Walker is in the running for fantasy adventure The Portable Door.

Niasari’s Shayda, about a young Iranian mother who finds refuge with her daughter in an Australian women’s shelter, has also been named Australia’s official entry for the Best International Feature category at next year’s Oscars.

Read: Shayda is a powerful debut from Iranian-Australian writer/director Noora Niasari

Otto, daughter of Australian acting royalty Barry and sister of Miranda, has been recognised in two additional categories: Best Direction of Commercial Content for Zimmermann Fall 22 – Stargazer, and two nominations for Best Direction in a TV or Subscription Video On Demand (SVOD) Drama Series Episode for Heartbreak High and Deadloch.

Jeffrey Walker also received a second nomination in the TV or SVOD Mini-Series category for The Clearing.

In an all-female line-up, Otto’s fellow nominees in the TV or SVOD Drama Series Episode category include Emma Freeman (The Newsreader), Jennifer Leacey (The Secrets She Keeps) and Sian Davies (Black Snow).


Emma Sullivan’s depiction of the story of journalist Kim Wall, who was murdered after boarding Danish inventor Peter Madsen’s submarine in Into the Deep, and Selina Miles’ direction of Harley and Katya, the tragic story of an Australian figure skating duo, have each earned a nomination for Best Direction in a Documentary Feature.

They’re joined by Laurence Billiet and Rachael Antony for The Giants, about the life of environmentalist Bob Brown, and Poppy Stockell for her direction of John Farnham – Finding the Voice.

Read: Review: John Farnham: Finding the Voice truly sings

Indigenous director Allan Clarke’s The Dark Emu Story, charting the impact of Bruce Pascoe’s book Dark Emu, and Wodi Wodi woman Gillian Moody’s Kindred, about her connection back to her bloodlines after being adopted into a white family, have also earned them a nomination in the documentary feature category.

Torres Strait Islander John Harvey has been nominated in the Best Direction in a TV or SVOD Documentary Series Episode or Documentary One-Off category for Still We Rise, documenting the Aboriginal Tent Embassy opposite Old Parliament House in the year of its 50th anniversary.

Also nominated in the category are Kriv Stenders (The Black Hand – E1); Nick Robinson (Australia’s Wild Odyssey E1 – Arteries and Veins); Patrick Abboud (Kids Raising Kids) and Stamatia Maroupas (Queerstralia E1 – The Law).


First Nations director Jub Clerc’s Sweet As, about an Australian teen who discovers her love for photography at a youth camp in Western Australia, has earned her a nomination for Best Direction in a Debut Feature Film.

Brenda Matthews and Nathaniel Schmidt have also been nominated in the category for The Last Daughter, charting Matthews’ search for the white foster family with whom she had lost all contact.

Other debut feature film nominees include Gabriel Gasparinatos (OneFour – Against All Odds); Mark Leonard Winter (The Rooster); Matt Vesely (Monolith) and Thomas Hyland (This is Going to Be Big).


For Best Direction in a Short Film, Yankunytjatjara man Derik Lynch and Matthew Thorne have been nominated for Marungka Tjalatjunu (Dipped in Black), alongside Alies Sluiter (Myth); David Ma (The Dancing Girl and the Balloon Man); David Robinson-Smith (We Used to Own Houses); Neer Shelter (Perspectives) and Robin Summons (Victim).

The winners of the 20 categories in the 2023 Australian Directors’ Guild Awards will be announced at an awards ceremony at The Grand Electric in Sydney’s Surry Hills on Tuesday, December 5.

‘The awards recognise outstanding directing in everything from mobile-first online series and children’s TV drama to best music video, animation or feature film, and we’re delighted to see more nominations than ever this year,’ ADG President Rowan Woods said.

‘Judges have been blown away by the quality of entrants and have been particularly impressed by the calibre of up-and-coming talent. A win for any one of these newcomers could be the launch pad for an enduring and impactful career and we’re excited to see who takes out the awards on December 5.’

Sophie Harper urged those with a passion for Australian filmmaking to come along to the awards ceremony, which is open to the public as well as industry members.

‘Whether you’re an emerging director wanting to network with the best of the best in the field or a film buff who wants an inside run on the hottest new Australian directors, get in quickly and grab your tickets,’ Harper said.

The ADG Awards is supported by sponsors including Principal Partner ASDACS and Major Partner Netflix Australia.

The Australian Directors’ Guild Awards take place on 5 December 2023 in Sydney. For tickets and more information, head to the Moshtix website.

Silvi Vann-Wall is a journalist, podcaster, and filmmaker. They joined ScreenHub as Film Content Lead in 2022. Twitter: @SilviReports