The Age* reports that Sarah Ann Watt “Died peacefully at home filled with the love she gave to those who adored her – her family” and lived “[a] life of courage humour, intelligence, generosity, honesty and grace”. This was followed by a wave of tributes on social network Twitter, including distributor Palace Films who said Watts was “a truly extraordinary artist. Deepest condolences to her family and friends”. Film critic Marc Fennell simply said “Incredibly sad day for Australian cinema”.
After graduating from Swinburne University of Technology, Watt’s 1995 Small Treasures short won Best Short at the Venice Film Festival. In 2000, she contributed animations for the SBS series Swim Between the Flags.
Sarah Watt is perhaps best known for her 2000 debut feature Look Both Ways, which won both the Australian Film Institute Award and the IF Award for Best Director along with the prestigious Discovery Award at Toronto International Film Festival. Her most recent film, 2009’s My Year Without Sex, has also been largely well received.
Earlier this year, Watt sat on the Official Competition Jury for the Sydney Film Festival, alongside film critic Julie Rigg, Jury President Chen Kaige (Farewell My Concubine, The Emperor and the Assassin, Together) actress Kerry Fox and producer Mark Herbert.
Watt was married to actor William McInnes, with whom she recently penned Worse Things Happen At Sea on family life in Australia, and is survived by two children, Clem and Stella.
Australia’s ABC2 will screen a special tribute on Saturday 12 November, beginning from 8:30 PM AEST. Films will include Look Both Ways and shorts Small Treaures, Local Dive and Living with Happiness.