Sand animation picks up Aussie Oscar

Marieka Walsh at the AACTA Awards

Marieka Walsh at the AACTA Awards (Credit: AACTA)

In summary: 
  • The Hunter, a stop-motion film made entirely with sand has won Best Short Animation at the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards
  • Director Marieka Walsh made the film while completing a Master of Media Arts and Production at UTS

It may have taken over 30 million grains of sand and two years to make, but a UTS postgraduate’s debut film has won the short animation category at Australia’s top film and television awards.

The Hunter, a seven minute stop-motion sand animation made by Marieka Walsh during her Master of Media Arts and Production at UTS in 2011, was awarded Best Short Animation by the Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AACTA) Awards at a ceremony on Monday.

The win follows successful screenings at major film festivals in Australia and internationally over the past year, including the Sydney Film Festival and SXSW in Austin, Texas.

Marieka Walsh at work on The HunterMarieka Walsh at work on The Hunter

For Ms Walsh, who dedicated her evenings and weekends in a dark studio for two years to meticulously craft the film, this latest accolade is still unexpected.

“It’s quite overwhelming for my work to be recognised at the AACTA’s,” Ms Walsh said.

“Though sand is a tedious medium to work with, it is also creative and very evocative, so I’m excited that the film resonates with so many people.”

With a background in visual arts and film editing, she undertook a Master of Media Arts and Production to hone her skills in script-writing and technical camera work. Ms Walsh made The Hunter as her capstone project for the course.

The film’s first accolade came in 2011 when film industry judges and the general public voted it Best Animation at the UTS Golden Eye Awards, a biennial event celebrating the best of that year’s creative media students.

Dr Gregory Ferris, postgraduate coordinator for the UTS Media Arts and Production course and Ms Walsh's supervisor, could not be more proud of her ongoing success.

"Marieka came into the course as an industry professional looking to learn new skills and disciplines," Dr Ferris said.

"She's the kind of student you hope for – creative, edgy, but above all, disciplined.”

Ms Walsh is currently in production on her next short animation The Crossing, thanks to funding from Screen Australia secured with the help of fellow Media Arts and Production graduate Donna Chang.

For more information on The Hunter, visit