THE 2019 Blue Heeler Film Festival is done and dusted.
In front of a gathering of about 80 people at the Upper Hunter Innovation Precinct in Muswellbrook on Saturday night, Kate Lefoe was announced as the winner of the Golden Bluey - and $10,000 cash, courtesy of the Bengalla Mining Company.
Her offering, Chicken, a coming of age short reminiscent of her childhood, took home the honours in front of a very competitive field.
Unfortunately, Ms Lefoe was unable to accept the award in person as she was overseas.
However, Newcastle's Jacob Ure picked up the Student Bluey, as well as a HP laptop and $3000.
His film, Pandemic: Margaret's Experience, focused on a woman who contracted polio in the 1950s.
The youngster said he was thrilled to secure the top prize in the senior category, which was sponsored by Harvey Norman Muswellbrook.
"I'm really surprised," Jacob said.
"It took me about six months - on and off - to put together.
"There was a lot of organisation, with the locations and everything.
"But, it's great to be recognised for the effort."
Seventeen films appeared at the finale, including local duo Alessio Mazza and Hugo Morgan's contribution, The Ambition Paradox.
"We'd like to thank everyone involved - and the amazing audience that attended [tonight]," said one of the organisers, Kristi Street.
"After reviewing almost 150 fantastic submissions from all across Australia, the best of the best were screened.
"In the end, we received more than 100 entries in the opens [category], with about 40 in the seniors.
"And, the quality of all of them was exceptional.
"Thank you to Muswellbrook Shire Council for your support."
In a new and innovative format, council tapped into the creative abilities of five arts students from the University of Newcastle (UoN) to present the latest edition of the festival.
The third year undergraduates were each awarded a Creative Works Scholarship to develop and curate the event as a component of their degree studies at the Faculty of Arts and Education, UoN.
"The five-person creative taskforce comprised of pupils studying across the disciplines of marketing, design, film, music and visual and performing arts who undertook the festival project in conjunction with their university classes," a council spokesperson said.
"By including the hands-on involvement of the creative arts students, we - supported by long-term sponsors Bengalla Mining Company and Harvey Norman Muswellbrook - aimed to generate a high level of excitement and attract a record number of quality entries to the festival.
"The scholarship team also hosted a series of workshops at Muswellbrook and Scone high schools where students interested in pursuing a career in the creative arts field were introduced to the wide variety of disciplines available at the Creative Industries campus at UoN and also encouraged to enter their own short film."