Envisioning a world where a diversity of women's voices, stories and creativity are equally recognised and celebrated. 


 Established in early 2017, the Melbourne Women in Film Festival is a not-for-profit festival aimed at celebrating and supporting the work of women filmmakers and creatives – from directors, writers and producers to cinematographers, sound designers and editors. Our annual festival promotes the many talented Australian women who work within all areas of screen production, exhibiting works of all styles and genres by women filmmakers and showcasing the diversity of women’s perspectives through storytelling and conversation. We look forward to seeing you at the festival!


  • To deliver an engaging and accessible annual film festival in Melbourne that showcases and promotes the diverse works of Australian women screen creatives and technicians.

  • To advocate for gender equality and diversity in the Australian screen industries by facilitating conversation between a community of practitioners, audiences and industry.



There is an abundance of research and discourse, locally and globally, confirming gender inequality both in the representation of women on screen and behind the camera. According to recent research conducted by Screen Australia, in Australian feature film production, women account for 33% of the producers, 15% of the directors and 23% of the writers.[i] Lack of opportunity in production and exhibition is a known factor in this imbalance. Yet, at the same time, there is a high demand within the community for greater access to women’s stories on screen. 

Data emerging on audiences shows that women buy more than 50% of all movie tickets and women 35-plus are one of the only demographics that continues to grow worldwide at a time when cinema audience numbers are trending downwards [ii]. Evidence also indicates these filmgoers want to view more stories about women. Unfortunately, less than 25% of all films in the mainstream market are about women or have female protagonists. Audiences are also often missing out on women’s work in areas such as shorts, documentary, experimental film and new online formats.

As a result, we aim make a valuable and meaningful contribution to our local culture by facilitating participation of diverse creative women and audiences in a festival celebrating different stories about women; stories that can make a difference to women’s lives.

[i] Screen Australia analysis of credits of theatrically released Australian feature films shot between July 2010 and June 2015.

[ii] Motion Picture Association of America, ‘Theatrical Market Statistics’, 2013. Statistics-2013_032514-v2.pdf


Our Board

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Therese Davis (Chair)

Therese Davis is an Associate Professor and head of the Film and TV Studies program at Monash University. Previously, she has worked on community radio and as a media activist. Therese holds a degree in Communications, a Masters in Cultural Studies and a PhD from the University of Western Sydney. Her doctoral thesis on the face, death and spectatorship in the media age was published as The Face on the Screen: Death, Recognition and Spectatorship (Intellect, 2004). She is also the co-author with Felicity Collins of Australian Cinema After Mabo (CUP, 2004). 

Therese has been teaching film and television studies at Australian universities since 1994. Throughout this time she has maintained a strong interest in the relationship between theory and media practice in both her teaching and research. Therese is the co-recipient of a 2006 ARC Discovery Grant to investigate collaborations between Indigenous and non-Indigenous filmmakers and writers in Australia since 1960, and has co-edited with Belinda Smaill a special issue of Camera Obscura on “The Place of the Contemporary Female Director” (2014). In 2009, she was awarded the Ivan Hutchinson Prize for Best Writing on Australian Film by the Australian Film Critics Association. Currently, Therese is collaborating with filmmaker Romaine Moreton on a research project funded by Screen Australia looking at Indigenous filmmaking models.


Emma Jenkin (Deputy Chair)

Emma Jenkin is a finance professional who has worked internationally in investment banking, funds management, environmental finance and is the CFO of a solar focussed electricity company that she co-founded. Emma has a degree in mathematics and finance and has a love of numbers combined with an aptitude for problem solving. Emma is a film lover who is passionate about gender equality and supports increased participation of women in all facets of the film industry.


Leanne Tonkes

Leanne Tonkes develops and produces engaging and emotional stories with a  focus on content for female audiences worldwide. She has become an advocate for Gender Equality in the film industry and champions the careers of female writers and directors. Her credits include director Mairi Cameron’s debut feature The Second which will premiere in cinemas and on STAN in 2018, award winning web series This is Desmondo Ray!, feature film My Mistress, and AFI award winning short Dog with an Electric Collar. She is currently producing Emma Freeman’s feature film The Circus written by Alice Bell and Tigress to be directed by Leena Yadav and written by Jane Hampson. She is also adapting two novels - Erin McKean's The Secret Lives of Dresses and The Wedding Season with Menik Gooneratne, Gurinda Chadha and Paul Mayeda Berges (Bend It Like Beckham)


Hari Morfis

Hari is a practising lawyer with over 15 years experience in professional and financial services. She is currently General Counsel and Company Secretary of an ASX listed fund manager and Company Secretary on another ASX listed investment company. Prior to this, Hari spent more than a decade at a global financial institution in various senior legal, risk and compliance roles. She has a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Laws from Monash University and is currently studying a Graduate Diploma in Applied Corporate Governance.

Throughout her career Hari has been a mentor, supporter and champion of women. She is equally passionate about film.

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Vyshnavee Wijekumar

Vyshnavee Wijekumar has an extensive background in marketing and fundraising within the festival and film distribution space, working with both Australian and international content. Previous employers include Village Roadshow, the popular Indian Film Festival of Melbourne and the Human Rights Arts & Film Festival. Currently she leads the marketing team at Footscray Community Arts Centre and is looking to grow the film program during her tenure at the centre. She has also previously moderated the panel on ‘Women Getting a Start in Screen Culture’ at the inaugural 2017 Melbourne Women in Film Festival and participated in a live reading presented by Behind the Wire at the 2017 Melbourne Writers Festival. She also recently wrote this piece on the M.I.A. documentary for the Melbourne International Film Festival:

A woman of Sri Lankan Tamil heritage, Vyshnavee is incredibly passionate about screen content produced by and featuring people of colour and First Nations communities. She absolutely loves the film and television industry and its ability to tell stories, connect communities and change perspectives. She is particularly interested in increasing the presence of underrepresented groups on screen and behind the lens.


Our Team


Sian Mitchell

Festival Director

Dr Sian Mitchell is a film critic, writer and academic at SAE Creative Media Institute. She has presented numerous conference, symposia and seminar research papers at both domestic and international conferences and workshops. Her research on areas of diversity in the Australian screen industry has been published in journals and industry blogs, including Historic Environment, Peephole Journal, NFSA, and the AFI Research Collection. She has worked as a consulting curator on the heritage web/mobile application, 'Past Port' – a history of Port Melbourne (ARC funded project), as a special research project intern at the National Film and Sound Archive, and been a member of the judging panel for the ATOM Awards (short tertiary film in 2012 and short film in 2016). Sian has also worked in areas of communications and sponsorship with the Alliance Française Classic French Film Festival and sits on their board.


Kirsten Stevens

Deputy Festival Director

Dr Kirsten Stevens is an internationally known film writer and researcher working in the areas of film festivals and film exhibition practice. Author of the book, Australian Film Festivals: Audience, Place and Exhibition Culture (2016), she has spent several years tracing the history of Australia's engagement with cinema and the practices that have built the country's vibrant film culture. Now a leading scholar on Australia's film festival history, she has presented her work around the world. Since gaining her PhD in film studies at Monash University in 2013, she has become increasingly involved in Australia's film festival scene, reporting on and volunteering in several festivals, as well as teaching a course on film festival research and practice in 2016. In 2015 and 2016 Kirsten volunteered with the St Kilda Film Festival, gaining invaluable first hand front-of-house experience of the day-to-day running of a large film festival, which further built on her experience in audience research and event management gained through working within the university and at Museum Victoria.

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Whitney Monaghan

Festival Co-ordinator/Critics Lab Co-ordinator

Dr Whitney Monaghan is a screen critic and Assistant Lecturer in Film and Screen Studies at Monash University. She is the social media coordinator for Monash’s School of Media, Film and Journalism and producer of the short film AL (The Movie), which premiered at the Melbourne Underground Film Festival in 2016. With a background in screen, media and cultural studies, she has expertise in gender, queer and youth representation, digital culture, and new forms of screen media. She is the author of the book Queer Girls, Temporality and Screen Media: Not ‘Just a Phase’ (2016) and the founding editor of Peephole Journal, an online magazine devoted to creative screen criticism. She has reported on films, television and film festivals for many publications with international reach. 

Janice Loreck

Festival Co-ordinator/Panels & Forums

Dr Janice Loreck is a teaching assistant and researcher at Edith Cowan University. Her academic work focuses cine-feminism, contemporary art cinema and screen violence. She is currently researching feminist fandom and viewing pleasure, with an emphasis on women's criticism online. Dr Loreck has written for Peephole Journal and The Conversation and is the author of Violent Women in Contemporary Cinema (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016).



Melanie Ashe - Education Coordinator

Patricia Di Risio - Research

Sheri Tantawy - Design