Blog single page

Laura’s Choice Wins at AIDC

Documentary Laura’s Choice, directed and produced by WA’s Sam Lara and Cathy Henkel has won the inaugural Hot Docs Prize and a pass to win the Doc Edge Festival and Forum at the 2020 Australian International Documentary Conference in Melbourne.

The film, which explores the unique family experience of three generations of women, coming to terms with a radical approach to dying was pitched by Sam and Cathy at the Australian International Documentary Conference (AIDC) in front of a panel of international decision-makers as part of the FACTory Pitch program. The documentary received the inaugural Brian Beaton Award in 2018 and was supported by Screenwest with development funding and Lara was supported to attend AIDC with Screenwest Travel Funding.

It was announced at AIDC’s closing night party that the project had won two prizes. The Hot Docs Prize includes travel support to attend Hot Docs International Documentary Conference which will be held in Toronto Canada this May, providing the filmmakers with a fantastic opportunity to pitch their moving documentary feature to international buyers.

Director and Producer of Laura’s Choice, Sam Lara exclaimed, “We are completely blown away to have won these awards at AIDC. It’s been very special sharing this incredibly personal experience, and we are both really moved to see how many people have resonated with Laura’s story. The teaser we screened garnered such a positive response and prompted lots of tears and discussion. It all left me feeling very proud of my Grandma and her legacy.”

Sam added, “The other projects that were pitched were so inspiring, and the warmth and enthusiasm shown by the factual filmmaking community for this project makes me feel incredibly proud to be working in documentary. We are so grateful to AIDC, Hot Docs and Doc Edge and so looking forward to taking this project to Canada and New Zealand!”

CEO of Screenwest, Willie Rowe explained, “Laura’s Choice is such an exceptional Western Australian story which will have lasting impact for years to come. This is ground-breaking documentary at its finest, presenting a familiar family story in anticipating the passing of a loved one, that most can relate to. Screenwest is proud to have supported its journey so far. We look forward to the reception it receives upon release.”

For more information and to continue to follow the journey and community Laura’s Choice  is creating, follow the Facebook page


About the Brian Beaton Award

In recognition of the valuable contribution made to the screen industry in Western Australia by esteemed producer Brian Beaton, and to honour his memory, the Brian Beaton Award is awarded by Screenwest annually to a filmmaker/s who has a current social impact project that needs further support to reach its full potential.

The Award is open to current West Australian resident/s of any level of experience who have a current factual social impact project in active development, or that has been recently produced for broadcast, theatrical or online distribution, including VR and interactive projects. Support is available for development and/or production, or an outreach campaign to enhance the social impact.

About Sam Lara

​Sam Lara graduated from Bond University with a Bachelor of Film and Television in 2015. Since then she has been working as an Assistant Director on feature films, TV series and TVCs and as a producer and director of short films, music videos and factual content. Sam’s directing work has been nominated at Sydney Film Festival, St Kilda Film Festival, Flickerfest International Film Festival, Cambridge Film Festival, Byron Bay Film Festival and Melbourne International Film Festival, where she was selected to participate in MIFF’s 2019 Accelerator Lab. She is now working on her first feature documentary.

About Cathy Henkel

Dr. Cathy Henkel is Director of WA Screen Academy at Edith Cowan University. She is the WA Chapter Head for the Australian Director’s Guild and is a board member for the Australian International Documentary Conference. Cathy has 26 years’ experience as a documentary director, producer and writer.

Her work focuses on telling inspiring, global stories with cross-platform delivery, including cinema, television, online, and education platforms. Her credits include The Burning Season (IF Award and EMMY nomination), The Man who Stole my Mother’s Face (IF Award and Tribeca Film Festival Best Feature Documentary), The Life and Legacy of Spike Milligan, Show me the Magic (ACS Award) and Rise of the Eco-Warriors feature documentary and TV series. She has a PhD from QUT and was awarded SPA Documentary Producer of the Year in 2009.


Contact Screenwest

T: +61 8 6169 2100

Follow us on FacebookTwitterInstagramLinkedIn, YouTube and subscribe to our newsletter to stay up to date with Screenwest.

Listen to our podcast – In Conversation with Screenwest for a behind the scenes look at the world of screen production as world-class film, television, documentary and digital media practitioners share their experiences, insight and expertise.

View the WA Screen Industry Calendar to see what’s happening in the screen industry in Western Australia.

Share this article

Posted 12 March 2020

Filed under industry news