Australian feature and short film writer/director Sarah Watt passed away on Friday, age 53, after a long battle with cancer. Watt is survived by her two children and husband William McInnes, who starred in the film for which she will be best remembered: her stunning 2005 feature debut Look Both Ways.
Look Both Ways is a bold and innovative drama — in both a narrative and aesthetic sense — set over a scorchingly hot weekend during which photographer Nick (McInnes) is diagnosed with cancer after a routine check-up. The way the film integrates Watt’s self-generated animation scenes (her talents in animation were fostered throughout a number of shorts made in the 90s) is ingenious — both comical and devastating.
Watt solidified her reputation as an emerging force in Australian cinema (sadly, a career cut way too short) with her next feature My Year Without Sex (2009), a modest, sensitively drawn drama about a woman (Sascha Horler) who abstains from sex for a year after developing a brain aneurism. As I noted in my review, the film is intelligently made, with earthy and unprepossessing performances, and pleasant to watch despite its potentially grim subject matter.
Watt was a well-liked figure within the Australian film industry and will be deeply missed.
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Tributes flowed onto Twitter yesterday, including the following tweets:
Look Both Ways is one of my all time top ten films, thank-you Sarah for sharing your dreams on film (@fairefields)
Sad to hear about Sarah Watt. Say little prayers for her Hubby William McInnes and their children Clem and Stella. #sarahwatt #rip (@BrookieLogan)
Look Both Ways is a great life affirming film about death & cancer. It’s also unique for an Aussie film: it’s really good. #rip (@adamhorsfall)
So sad to hear about the passing of the most lovely #sarahwatt – prayers with her amazing family. Such an inspiration. (@asheisele)
So sorry to hear about #SarahWatt. Watched ‘My Life Without Sex’ Last night. So talented. RIP. (@victoriaconners)
#RIP #SarahWatt my condolences go to your family. Long live art. (@IamMattttt)
A creative life. A life of courage, humour, intelligence, generosity, honesty and grace. http://t.co/jSswF1FD #sarahwatt (@rutha)
#RIP – #SarahWatt 1958 – 2011. Genuine Australian talent. (@teknokrptik)
So sad to hear about #SarahWatt – condolences to all those closest to her. (@Brenda_Nash)
Saddened by the death of #SarahWatt. An inspiring woman, tough and fragile and filled with goodness. RIP x (@dillonpete)
Watching “My Year Without #Sex ” #SarahWatt’s Movie .In the light of her death it is particularly poignant now Thank you Sarah RIP (@Lynestel)
so sorry to also hear news re #SarahWatt much love and sympathy to William MacInnes and family RIP Sarah xx (@BrownSquirrel)