Jess Barclay Lawton is a Naarm (Melbourne, Australia) based writer-director. Her work is raw and intimate, characterised by a hybrid style that combines documentary and narrative practises.

Lawton established herself as an up-and-coming talent with her short film ‘Morning Star’, which premiered at the 63rd Locarno Film Festival and continued on to screen at over 30 festivals worldwide. Her two follow up films, ‘We Keep On Dancing’ and ‘Building Bridges’ screened widely, winning ‘Best Live Action (Under 15)’ at Palm Springs International Shortfest and nominations for the 'Grand Jury Prize' at Slamdance Film Festival, the 'Grand Prix International Prize' at Cork Film Festival.

In 2016, Jess’ Screen Australia funded webseries, Movement, was selected as one of only six web series from around the world to screen at TriBeca Film Festival as part of TriBeca N.O.W. Furthermore, the Movement team were also selected as one of twenty content creators from across the globe to take part in the Digital Creators Market in NY. 

Jess was a finalist for VICE and Screen Australia's 'Pitch Australiana' at the 2020 Australian International Documentary conference for her documentary ‘White Fella In A Hole’. Shortly after this, her short documentary ‘ZEF’ premiered through NOWNESS, reaching 3 million + views.

Lawton is a MIFF Accelerator Lab alumna and recipient of the Creative Victoria ‘Creators Fund’. Most recently, Jess was selected as 1 of 20 international filmmakers for the highly curated TIFF Filmmaker Lab of the Toronto International Film Festival with her debut feature film, ‘Melaleuca’. She was also honoured with a TIFF Share Her Journey Fellowship.


For Film’s Sake selects 13 filmmakers for Sydney Film Festival Platform incubator ‘23

Screen Australia Generate Advanced Development Funding for ‘Melaleuca’ Feature Film

LBB 10 AUNZ Creative Wunderkinds Who Caught Our Eye in 2022

Screen Australia Generate Development Funding for ‘Melaleuca’ Feature Film

TIFF Announces 2021 Filmmaker Lab Participants

Recipient of Creative Victoria’s 2021 ‘Creative Workers’ Fund

Directors Notes: 10 Must-Watch Shorts at Aesthetica Short Film Festival 2020

NOWNESS: ZEF premiere

Finalist at the VICE Pitch Australiana competition, AIDC 2020

Second Round Finalist ‘The Sweetness’ - Screencraft 2020 Film fund

Recipient of Creative Victoria’s 2020 Sustaining Creative Workers Arts Grant
Recipient of City of Melbourne Quick Response Arts Grant

Recipient of Creative Victoria’s 2019 'Creators Fund' Grant for hybrid feature film research and development

'Movement' (Web Series) Screen Australia Post Completion Fund recipient

'Romper Stomper' (Stan mini series) Director's Attachment - Funded through the Film Victoria Director’s Attachment Scheme



69th Sydney Film Festival
St Kilda Film Festival ‘22
25th Revelation Perth Interntional Film Festival
Brisbane International Film Festival ‘22
ReelGood Film Festival ‘23


Aesthetica Film Festival ‘20
NOWNESS premiere
ReelGood Film Festival ‘21
Promofest Short of the Year - Winter
Cinematica #3
Across the Globe Film Festival
Himachal Short Film Festival
Usak Short Film Festival
Skiptown Film Fest, LA
Greenwich Village Film Festival
La Mama Cinematica: Edition #3
La Mama Cinematica at War-Rak/Banksia


Palm Springs International ShortFest ‘19
Melbourne International Film Festival ‘19
Flickerfest ‘20
Newport Beach Film Festival ‘20
Cannes Court Métrage - Short Film Corner ‘20
Deep Focus Film Festival – Finalist ‘20
Vertigo Film Fest ‘20
St Kilda film Festival ‘20
2nd Deptford Cinema Film Festival
3rd Kinomorphia Film Festival
13th Filmzeitkaufbeuren Film Festival
Bolton International Film Festival
7th Goa Short Film Festival
11th Macau International Short Film Festival
3rd Porto Femme International Film Festival
8th ASFF – AS Film Festival
DFF Bradford ‘20
Linz Int'l Short Film Festival ‘21
Chambal International Film Festival ‘21 
Cinematica: Edition #5


Aesthetica Short Film Festival ‘16
LA Music Video Festival ‘16


Tribeca NOW ’16
St Kilda Film Festival ‘15
Melbourne Web Fest ‘15


Melbourne International Film Festival ‘14
Flickerfest ‘15
St Kilda Film Festival ‘15
ReelGood Film Festival ‘15


19th Palm Springs International ShortFest
Raindance Film Festival ‘13
San Diego Film Festival ‘13
Cork Film Festival ‘13
Rocky Mountain Women’s Film Festival ‘13
Slamdance Film Festival ‘14
Flickerfest ‘14
World Of Women Film festival ‘14
38th Cleveland International Film Festival
Byron Bay Film Festival ‘14
Aspen Filmfest ‘14
Rincon International Film Festival ‘14
Nashville Film Festival ‘14
St Kilda Film Festival ‘14
21st Capalbio Cinema ISFF
Barwon Heads Film Society ‘14
Missouri Film Festival ‘14
Fairhope Film Festival ‘14
Heathcote Film Festival ‘14
Heartland Film Festival ‘14
Calgary International Film Festival ‘14
Sapporo International Short Film Festival ‘14
FIJR Granada –International Short Film Festival ‘14
Milwaukee Film Festival ‘14
Made In Melbourne Film Festival ‘14
ReelGood Film Festival ‘15
Yarra Valley Film Festival ‘17  

Revelation Perth International Film Festival ‘13

63rd Locarno International Film Festival
14th Rhode Island International Film Festival
4th Dungog Film Festival
Flickerfest ‘11
Hillside Film Festival ‘11
Made In Melbourne Film Festival ‘11
13th Wisconsin Film Festival
The Indie Fest ‘11
44th Annual WorldFest Houston
7th International Short Film Festival Detmold
Busho Budapest Short Film Festival ‘11
Malta International TV Short Film Festival ‘11
Parvin Etesami International Film Festival ‘13
Federation Square 10th Anniversary Celebrations 20


Nominated ‘Best Short Documentary’ - ReelGood Film Festival ‘23


Winner ‘Best Documentary’ ReelGood Film Festival
Award Winner - Across the Globe Film Festival
Winner Gold Award (VIC / TAS) Australian Cinematographers Society
Short of the Year (Winter) - Special Jury Mention


‘Best Narrative’ DFF Bradford
‘Best Cinematography’ Vertigo Film Festival
Nominated ‘Best International Film’ Filmzeitkaufbeuren Film Festival


Best of Spotlight - Melbourne WebFest


Nominated for Grand Jury Prize of Best Narrative Short Slamdance Film Festival
Best Film - ReelGood Film Festival
Best Actor (William Gluth) - Made In Melbourne Film Festival
Festival Honours - Newport Beach Film Festival           
Nominated ‘Best Achievement in Editing’ - St Kilda Film Festival
Best Live Action Narrative Under 15 Minutes - Palm Springs ShortFest
Nominated for 'Best Achievement in Sound for a Short Film' - Australian Screen Sound Guild Awards
Nominated for Grand Prix International Prize - Cork Film Festival


Bronze Fictional Drama Short Award - ACS (Australian Cinematographers Society)  

Best Director - Malta International TV Short Film Festival
Best Film - Malta International TV Short Film Festival
Silver Remi - WorldFest Houston
Best In Show - Indie Fest
National Winner - Kodak Filmschool Competition           
GOLD ACS – Student Category VIC / TAS - ACS - Australian Cinematographers Society           
Nominated for the ‘Golden Paradino’ - Locarno International Film Festival

I acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and the traditional custodians of the land where I live, learn and work. Sovereignty was never ceded. I pay my respects to Elders past, present and emerging.