Coal Stove Pictures wins 2 Australian film awards

A year after opening an Australian office, South African film and television production company Coal Stove Pictures has won two Australian film awards. By Sue Blaine

Coal Stove Pictures' There's a Bluebird in my Heart was pronounced best production, and the company was declared best producer at the Victorian College of the Arts screenings in December.

Director Scottness Smith, a South African working in the company's Melbourne office, also won the producer of the year award for his work on Bluebird. "It's such an honour to produce a film as powerful as Bluebird and to have the work recognised," Smith said. He is back in SA for a short period.

The film, shot in Melbourne, explores the challenges of mental illness, and seeks to break down barriers to men expressing their emotions. "Many men suffer -- in silence -- some form of mental illness or depression," says Smith. "Hopefully this film goes a small way towards bringing about change and starting the conversation that men should not be ashamed or feel judged for expressing their feelings."

The film has also been submitted by the Victorian College of the Arts' judging panel to the Berlin Film Festival and other international film festivals.

Coal Stove Pictures was established in Johannesburg in 1997. It opened its Melbourne office in 2015.

In a further accolade for the film company, the American Broadcasting Corporation's Emmy-nominated prime-time show Criminal Minds invited Coal Stove Pictures' script development executive Nompi Vilakazi, to spend a week with their writers' room in Los Angeles. Vilakazi was in the US until January 29.

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