8 April 2024

Wollongong documentary about Aussie quirk one foot closer to the 'internet’s highest honour'

| Dione David
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Barefoot woman puts feet on desk while video conferencing someone on her computer

Thirroul-based ethical film and video production company Painting in Pictures has been nominated for a Webby Award for their short documentary Why Australians love going barefoot. Photo: Painting In Pictures.

A Thirroul-based production company is in the running for what The New York Times has hailed the “internet’s highest honour” for a documentary on a ubiquitous Australian habit.

Painting In Pictures, the company that recently won at the XPRIZE film competition funded by Elon Musk for a documentary about the role of whale poo in carbon sequestering, has been nominated for a Webby Award for their BBC short documentary, Why Australians love going barefoot.

Shot almost entirely in the Illawarra, it showcases various Wollongong landmarks, including Moore Street in Austinmer, Thirroul Beach, Thirroul Library, Sandon Point, Wollongong Central and Crown Street Mall, and local businesses, including Thirroul Village Cellars, Thirroul’s Buck Hamlin cafe, Barefoot Podiatrist in Corrimal and Austinmer’s Moore Street General cafe.

Fans can now vote online to help Painting In Pictures win at the 28th Annual Webby Awards, presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences, the leading international awards organisation honouring excellence on the Internet.

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Running six minutes and two seconds, the documentary delivers exactly what the title promises. Painting In Pictures co-founder Joe Harrison described it as a “lighthearted project that revealed not just cultural idiosyncrasies but also sparked conversations on the unexpected benefits behind it”.

“In this country, and perhaps particularly in coastal regions such as ours, going barefoot is a social norm, and many Australians don’t even realise that the broader international community find it really quirky. It’s this weird cultural phenomenon we’ve adopted and normalised. The documentary is an exploration of why Australian barefoot culture is even a thing,” he says.

“Creating this short documentary for the BBC was an adventure in itself – diving into the quirks of Australian culture and seeing how something as simple as going shoeless puzzles our international friends.

“We’re honoured by this recognition and can’t help but smile at the thought of our barefoot journey making such an impact.”

Joe Harrison and Kirsty B. Carter of Painting in Pictures

Painting in Pictures’ Joe Harrison and Kirsty B. Carter were “over the moon” with their Webby nomination. Photo: Painting in Pictures.

As director of photography and co-producer, Joe is just one half of a powerhouse team of two that includes Painting In Pictures director and co-founder Kirsty B Carter, who not only wrote, directed and presented the engaging short documentary but often kicked off her shoes and starred in it.

She said the dynamic duo of two was “over the moon” with its 2024 Webby nomination.

“As an Aussie woman weaving tales of our nation’s cherished barefoot traditions, this nod is both a delightful surprise and an honour,” she said.

“To find ourselves in the same constellation as luminaries like Michelle Obama, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, and the ever-so-popular Taylor Swift – courtesy of an award that shines a spotlight on the best on the internet – is truly beyond our wildest dreams.

“Here’s to hoping our story can tread lightly yet leave a lasting imprint, much like the barefoot culture we celebrate.”

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Painting in Pictures is celebrated for its compelling storytelling and use of eco-conscious production techniques, which demonstrate its unwavering commitment to sustainability.

“Nominees like Painting In Pictures are setting the standard for innovation and creativity on the internet,” The Webby Awards general manager Nick Borenstein said.

“It is an incredible achievement to be selected among the best from the nearly 13,000 entries we received this year.”

Winners will be announced on Tuesday, 23 April, and they will have an opportunity to deliver one of The Webby Awards’ famous five-word speeches. Past five-word speeches include Steve Wilhite’s “It’s Pronounced ‘Jif’ not ‘Gif'”, NASA’s “Houston, we have a Webby” and SZA’s “The internet scares me. Thanks.”

As a nominee, Painting In Pictures is also eligible to win a Webby People’s Voice Award, which is voted online by fans across the globe from now until 18 April.

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