An Illawarra-made film has won big at what is billed as the Australian Oscars, with hopes this success will put the region on the map as a filmmaking hub.
Balgownie woman Francisca Braithwaite's short film Finding Addison claimed the title of Best Short Film at Saturday night's Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts (AATCA) Awards, beating other highly acclaimed films including a nominee for an Academy Award, or Oscar.
The film was one of six finalists, chosen from a pool of over 80 entrants, and the first from Wollongong to win this award.
"Overjoyed, over the moon," Ms Braithwaite said of how she felt having won.
"I don't even know how to explain it, it was such a surreal moment."
The film, her first major production, was made by her own company Blue Sparrow Entertainment in collaboration with Bulli production company TEN ALPHAS FILMS, run by producer Nick Bolton and cinematographer Jess Milne.
Coming up against other celebrated films the team went into the awards ceremony as the "underdog", Ms Braithwaite said, not thinking they would win.
Then they heard the film's name read out.
"We're all incredibly happy," Ms Braithwaite said.
She said the win would make it easier to get funding for other projects she had in the pipeline.
But Ms Braithwaite expects it will not only benefit her, but help boost the Illawarra filmmaking industry's profile.
"It's onwards and upwards for the Illawarra," she said.
This year Finding Addison will enter major film festivals around the country and be screened in the Illawarra within the next few months.
Ms Braithwaite wrote, directed, produced and acted in the film, which tells the story of best friends Isabelle and Lucy, who are confronted with a life-changing secret they hid 31 years earlier.
The film was inspired by a close friend of Ms Braithwaite who discovered she was adopted after her grandmother died.
Alongside Ms Braithwaite the film stars Jeanette Cronin, and new faces Aria Hart and Pez Warner.
Ms Braithwaite thanked the film's partners, including Faith Martin for putting together an "insanely talented" cast and post-production house Cutting Edge, and her family for their support.